RAIN 9/29: Online music services' new Facebook integration angering some users

Michael Schmitt
September 29, 2011 - 9:00am

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg announces the social network's music partnersFacebook, music services and webcasters are weathering user complaints over changes since the introduction of the social network's new music integration last week (RAIN coverage here). The update allows services like iHeartRadio, Slacker, Spotify, MOG, Rdio and others to automatically post information on Facebook about what you're listening to.

On-demand music service Spotify in particular has made headlines for requiring new users to register using Facebook. Already Spotify has responded, launching a "private listening mode" that won't post users' listening to Facebook (Lifehacker has more here).

Clear Channel's iHeartRadio also requires Facebook logins to use the new custom radio service. Many listeners aren't thrilled about that, reports Inside Radio (one listener commented it was "a step in the wrong direction"), but "other [services] are contemplating a similar move." The benefits of integrating with Facebook may simply be too good for radio to pass up.

For one thing, there's the exposure that comes with posting content to Facebook users' timelines. "Services like Slacker and iHeartRadio should be able to pick up new users easily," wrote Billboard (here). "With low barriers to adoption and Facebook's broad user base, Slacker and iHeartRadio should be well represented in users' news feeds and tickers."

Then there's the valuable data about users that Facebook provides. "The marketing leverage that can be achieved through integrations with things like Facebook is at this point almost impossible to measure -- it’s so phenomenal," Triton Loyalty president Chris Bell told Inside Radio. Facebook provides important information about users, which allows radio to offer better ads and create an overall better experience, argued Bell. "The reality is age, gender and Zip code information would put the radio industry light years ahead of where it is now."

Subscribe to Inside Radio's newletter here.

Paul Maloney
September 29, 2011 - 9:00am

One well-respected industry journalist recently shared his own thoughts regarding radio's embrace of Facebook data-sharing: Sean Ross, in Radio-Info.

Facebook page with Spotify timelineSeveral online music/Internet radio were announced last Thursday as part of Facebook’s new music platform, like Spotify, iHeart Radio, Rhapsody, Slacker, RDIO, MOG, and Jelli. Ross found that while he enjoys the ability to share music, sharing everything all the time can quickly lead to "too much information," for both ends of the transaction.

"With Spotify, however, I was already concerned about what I might be unknowingly sharing with my Facebook friends," Ross wrote. "And the iHeartRadio app, while much improved, was a little heavy handed about asking me to log in through Facebook (which you have to do to create personalized stations). It also no longer lets me add a station to my favorites from the App, but tries to make me sync my station preferences to iHeart’s cloud."

As suggested in RAIN's top story today, online radio/music services may soon feel some blowback to what might be perceived by listeners as "too much Facebook sharing," and find pulling back a little leads to a better consumer experience. 

"The first goal of making 'radio' available on more platforms should be increased listening, or maintaining existing listening, by going where listeners are," said Ross. "Building a station’s mailing list or harvesting metrics for advertisers, particularly somebody else’s advertisers, should be a bonus, if listeners are willing to share. Interactive is good. Intrusive isn’t."

Sean Ross writes the Ross on Radio newsletter and Radio-Info (where he's Executive Editor, Music & Programming) column twice weekly. He's also VP/Music and Programming at Edison Research. We recommend you read his column, "Read This Article, No Facebook Log-In Required," in Radio-Info.

Michael Schmitt
September 29, 2011 - 9:00am

Amazon's new Kindle Fire will support third-party apps, reportedly including one from PandoraAmazon yesterday unveiled a new line of Kindles including an Android-powered tablet which includes streaming abilities. Called the Kindle Fire, it will run third-party apps -- reportedly including offerings from Pandora and Netflix. It will also include access to Amazon's cloud music service

The Kindle Fire lands in November for $200. That relatively low price tag in particular means that potentially millions of consumers will soon be carrying around a device (designed for other purposes) that will enable them to wirelessly connect to online radio. The Chicago Sun-Times has more coverage here.

Michael Schmitt
September 29, 2011 - 9:00am

We7's Internet radio websiteUK music service We7 has discontinued its free on-demand service, instead focusing on its customizable Internet radio offerings.

Last year the service debuted "Internet Radio Plus" in an effort to essentially become the Pandora of Europe (RAIN coverage here). Now registered users of that web radio service can "request" up to 50 songs or albums per month, essentially adding limited on-demand functionality to Pandora-like Internet radio.

"The majority of people want their music picked for them based on the genre or type of artist they like," said We7's CEO, explaining why they dropped their on-demand service. We7 is ad-supported, but users can pay to remove ads (plans range from £5-10 per month).

PC Advisor has more coverage here.