Pandora officially launches in Australia and New Zealand

Paul Maloney
December 11, 2012 - 12:15pm

Pandora has gone live Down Under.

The leading webcaster in the U.S. is "fully live" in Australia and New Zealand, with both the web-based player and fully-functioning mobile apps for Apple and Android devices. The launch marks Pandora's first official entry in nations outside the U.S. since the company limited listening to home nation in 2007. 

In July (coverage here), Pandora "beta launched" in the two countries, but streaming only to desktop listeners (no mobile) -- but with the aim of a fully-mobile service. Holden will be the first car company in Australia and New Zealand to offer full compatibility with Pandora via its new Holden MyLink infotainment system.

"This is especially important in Australia and New Zealand," according to Pandora's press release, "which are among the world's most mobile-centric societies."

To accompany the launch, Pandora created "genre stations of Australian- and New Zealand-specific music," and has hired a local Managing Director for the new markets. Jane Huxley most recently led digital efforts for Fairfax Media, one of Australia's largest diversified media companies (Australia and New Zealand-based newspapers, magazines, radio and digital media).

You can see Pandora's Australia Genre Stations here, those for New Zealand here, and download the app for those markets here.

Paul Maloney
December 11, 2012 - 12:15pm

Hubbard Radio D.C. news outlet WTOP-FM has stopped inserting online-only ads into its web streaming, thereby duplicating its on-air programming online.

Senior Regional VP/Market Manager of Hubbard Radio's Washington, D.C. properties, Joel Oxley, explained the move as one to help Arbitron ratings: "Since WTOP is now a simulcast, those listeners can now be added to our Arbitron ratings. For WTOP even a slight move up in ratings can mean a significant rise in revenue." (quote from Inside Radio coverage)

If there are programming differences -- including ads -- between a station's on-air and its stream, Arbitron counts those audiences separately. If the programming is identical, Arbitron can combine the listening. Saga Communications announced a similar move in August (coverage here) for its streaming stations.

Paul Maloney
December 11, 2012 - 12:15pm

Musician Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) -- who's now also chief Creative Officer for Beats Electronics -- is hinting about a revolutionary new music recommendation platform from his company, set to launch in 2013.

Reznor's characterization of the platform as a combination of expert curation and machine intelligence sounds more than a little like customizable online radio (a la Pandora, etc.).

Reznor told The New Yorker (here) (as reported by Billboard, here) the technology "uses mathematics to offer suggestions to the listener... based partly on suggestions made by connoisseurs, making it a platform in which the machine and the human would collide more intimately." (here) observes, "Reznor's actual comments suggest that he isn't aware of the history or landscape of music curation and discovery. Yet, given that he is Trent Reznor, it's also possible that they really are pushing such services to a new level."

Beats, which owns the popular Beats By Dre line of audio accessories as well as the on-demand music service MOG, has code-named the service "Daisy."

Billboard writes, "Music discovery, or 'the problem of what to listen to next,' is a vexing one for music services as well as record companies that believe people will buy more music if they were exposed to more bands that match their tastes."

Last week competitor Spotify added a new feature that offers playlists from musicians, celebrities, and genre experts, customized to the listener's own playlists, preferences, and listening patterns.

Paul Maloney
December 11, 2012 - 12:15pm

The non-profit "Friends of MVY" has already raised about $175-thousand of the necessary $600-thousand to keep WMVY programming alive online. Aritaur Communications president Joseph Gallagher, the current owner, told The New York Times a "major donor had made an offer," as he assembles a governing board. The paper featured its coverage in its New York edition, and in the Media Decoder blog online. 

The Martha's Vineyard, MA station is being sold (pending FCC approval) to NPR-member WBUR, but the non-profit hopes to keep MVY's traditional adult alternative/eclectic format going as an online-only station (see our coverage here).

WMVY reportedly attracts about 30-thousand unique monthly listeners to its live online stream. Backers must "be able to convince a much higher percentage of its listeners to continue to donate to keep it going," Gallagher told the paper.

Gallagher explains the number of online listeners is not enough to sustain a commercial venture, thus the decision to keep the stream non-commercial. Gallagher said, "The power of MVY is its deep, deep relationship with its listeners."

Read more in The New York Times here.