RAIN 8/9: Politicians target likely supporters on Pandora

Paul Maloney
August 9, 2012 - 1:20pm

ProPublica reports "it's not clear why" a pop-up ad for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared on North Carolina resident Crystal Harris' mobile phone screen — "whether she was targeted, because, for instance, she lives in a swing state, or because she was listening to Garth Brooks."

As they announced in November, Pandora is offering its audience targeting capability to political advertisers (see RAIN here). The webcaster can indeed "send ads to particular listeners based on their favorite artist or type of music, as well as by their age, gender and state, county or congressional district." USA Today adds that Connecticut Senate hopeful Republican Linda McMahon and Wisconsin Democrats who had hoped to recall that state's Governor Scott Walker have also used the webcaster's platform for targted ads.

But just because Ms. Harris lives in North Carolina and is a country music fan, that doesn't mean she's interested in hearing from Mitt Romney. "Don't harass me on my email. Don't stalk me on the apps that I use. To me, that just crossed the line," Harris told ProPublica.

"We don’t get it," writes Eliot Van Buskirk in the Evolver.fm blog. "Flip on a television, and you’ll see all sorts of advertisements, assuming you don’t know how to use your DVR. Those are targeted based on where you live and what you’re watching. Why should music apps be any different?"

Perhaps it's indicative of the struggles online publishers and content producers face in trying to monetize their businesses on a medium (the Internet) that taught consumers content is free. Most services are lucky to convert 5% of people who sample to a subcription plan. Free services are left only to run ads, or ask for donations (which often meets with gripes and groans from users as well). Or, do you supposed it's not the presence of advertising, but the nature of it (in this case, sending an ad for a Republican to a registered Democrat)? That politics can be so offensive to our sensibilities that we're far more outraged at being targeted by politicians than by, say, laundry detergent? 

Read more in ProPublica here, USA Today here, and Evolver.fm here.

Paul Maloney
August 9, 2012 - 1:20pm

Internet radio and on-demand streaming services contributed about $54 million -- or 25% -- of Warner Music Group's recorded music division's digital revenue last quarter. That reportedly amounts to about 8% of Warner’s total revenue for that period, reports AllThingsDigital. (Note, this revenue does not include the licensing paid by cloud/locker services from Apple and Amazon.)

"What’s more encouraging for Warner — and presumably, the rest of the big labels — is that streaming revenue is growing quickly, but doesn’t seem to be cutting into traditional digital sales from outlets like iTunes," writes Peter Kafka. "Just as encouraging: Warner says that after you net out the effect of currency fluctuations, the increase in digital sales was bigger than the decrease in physical sales."

Dare we to even imagine that streaming services like Internet radio might have a promotional benefit to the copyright owners?

Read more in AllThingsDigital here.

Michael Schmitt
August 9, 2012 - 1:20pm

Stitcher in BMWBMW and MINI have announced in-dash support is now available for talk radio streaming service Stitcher. BMW and MINI's in-car web radio services require a connected iPhone. BMW has more info here.

Stitcher joins other services like MOG and Pandora on BMW and MINI dashboards. The companies first announced they would be working together back in March (RAIN coverage here).

Stitcher has also updated its mobile apps to include the Stitcher List, "a tasty way to find popular radio streams" that lists "popular podcasts or streams ranked in their category's top 50, new programs trending fast, and the most popular shows on social media." Engadget has more coverage here.

Paul Maloney
August 9, 2012 - 1:20pm

The webcast service Songza, known for its "music concierge" interface that offers playlists based on the time of day and your likely activities, launched in Canada this week. The free service is now available to Canadians on the Web, Apple and Android mobile, plus home streaming device Sonos (see below).

Though the Internet is a global marketplace, many webcast services aren't available outside their home country due to the difficulty in negotiating licensing with copyright owners around the world.

Songza worked with Canada's music licensing company Re:Sound to secure the necessary licenses to stream to a Canadian audience (an audience, by the way, with a significantly high broadband and smartphone penetration, as well as the relative lack of other streaming options).

Sonos owners (that includes those in the U.S. as well) can now access Songza on their devices, and "Songza's music concierge goes a step further so that you can choose a playlist based on rooms in your home."

By the way, Sonos has also announced availability of Amazon's new Cloud Player music storage service on the device.