RAIN 12/1: New Spotify platform allows partners like Rolling Stone, Last.fm to "curate" new music, similar to radio's traditional role

Michael Schmitt
December 1, 2011 - 11:00am

Spotify's new app platformYesterday on-demand music service Spotify announced a new app platform that allows partners like Rolling Stone and Last.fm to steer listeners towards new music discoveries in the same way traditional radio has for years.

For example, the app from CBS Music Interactive's Last.fm will not only recommend new Spotify music to users but will automatically create radio-like playlists based on a single track or the user's listening history. "This is bound to be a killer app for the service," writes Engadget (here).

Rolling Stone's app similarly will offer curated playlists every day "to highlight cool new music," writes VentureBeat. "A Moodagent app will help choose tracks according to your state of mind," writes MediaPost

"The apps turn Spotify into something more than just a streaming music service," comments VentureBeat. "Now, Spotify can be the center of your musical universe."

"Spotify becomes an on-demand service AND an endless number of interesting, programmed and curated channels with this move," writes Audio4Cast's Jennifer Lane (here).

Other app partners include Billboard, Pitchfork, We Are Hunted, The Guardian and others. Spotify will allow other third-party developers to build apps as well. 

In sum, the apps will help users discover and learn more about new music -- all within Spotify's "sandbox." The app platform moves Spotify closer to competing directly with Internet radio services, if not radio as a whole.

Though currently only available to desktop users, the company may eventually bring the app to mobile devices as well.

Spotify is an on-demand music streaming service, allowing users to listen to specific songs out of a library of 15 million tracks. The company offers an ad-support free service and paid subscription offerings. It directly competes with other services like MOG, Rdio and Rhapsody. It currently has 2.5 million paid members worldwide.

You can find out more from Spotify here, VentureBeat here and MediaPost here

Michael Schmitt
December 1, 2011 - 11:00am

Turntable.fmCloud music, recommendation engines and group listening. Those are just a few of the big online music trends of 2011, according to a new ReadWriteWeb article.

The year was good for algorithm-powered Internet radio services, with Pandora going public in February and the Echo Nest fueling new music services like iHeartRadio.

"As powerful as these machine-driven recommendation engines can be, there's still something to be said for human curation," writes ReadWriteWeb, pointing out that human-curated music services like Turntable.fm (pictured) and Shufflr.fm gained in popularity during the year.

Turntable.fm drove another 2011 web music trend, one that harkens back to AM/FM: group listening, where many users hear the same music at once. Meanwhile, Facebook forcefully introduced social features to streaming services while giant tech companies pushed music into the cloud.

You can find ReadWriteWeb's full analysis of the biggest Internet music trends of 2011 here.

Paul Maloney
December 1, 2011 - 11:00am

The website TheDomains.com reported yesterday that Clear Channel has registered the domains "iheartweather.com" and "ihearttraffic.com" (prompting RAIN's Michael Schmitt to ask, "Does anyone 'heart' traffic?"). 

The domains obviously fit the theme of the media group's iHeartRadio service. Clear Channel purchased the "iHeartRadio.com" domain in 2007, which, if you type it in to a browser's address bar, resolves to "iHeart.com" (which the company just acquired this past February). Presumably, this is indicative of a strategy in which the company hopes to make you "heart" so much more than just "radio" (like "traffic" or "weather"... but not "sports," at least not yet: CC reportedly does not yet own "iheartsports.com").

Clear Channel this week announced that its two-month old customizable ("Pandora-like," if you will) stations will remain commercial-free until April 1 (in RAIN here). This move earned them at least one fan: The Motley Fool's Rick Munarriz. He wrote: "Stretching the commercial-free window is a bolder move than you think. It would seem to devalue its flagship terrestrial streaming feature, encouraging music-hungry -- and comedy-hungry -- smartphone owners and drivers to go the customized route sans ads... Clear Channel's decision to forgo near-term profits for long-term results is a brilliant move, and everyone else should be taking notes."

Read the entire piece from TheDomains here (hat-tip to Digitally Imported's Ari Shohat); from The Motley Fool here.


Paul Maloney
December 1, 2011 - 11:00am

AudioNow is a Reston, VA-based tech firm whose platform delivers audio content to mobile devices via voice networks (as opposed to the data network). So, to listen to a client's station, listeners actually call a phone number and plug in their headphones. The company says this system "expands your distribution to any mobile device without managing streaming services, sophisticated technology, developing third party applications, all while lowering your bandwidth costs by using only a single stream of bandwidth."

The company today announced the launch of "Any AudioNow," enabling broadcasters to use any streaming format (e.g. Windows Media Audio (WMA) and AAC/HE-AAC) on the AudioNow platform (which had previously been limited to streaming MP3).