D Story

Muve Music reaches 2M subscribers in limited cell-phone distribution

Friday, October 4, 2013 - 10:30am

Muve Music is an interactive music subscription platform available exclusively to Cricket Wireless phone users on the Android platform. This narrow distribution funnel seems to work well for everyone involved, including users who have made Muve “the most popular on-demand music subscription service,” according to the company’s press release.

Cricket packages Muve with other services in one of its subscriber plans. A paying subscriber to Muve is really a customer of the phone company’s tiered service. As such, Muve’s growth numbers benefit from a bundling strategy that isn’t available to Rhapsody or other stand-alone music subscriptions.

Coincidentally, Muve founder and ex-SVP Jeff Toig left the company a few weeks ago to join SoundCloud as Chief Business Officer.

QUICK HITS: Hoopla streaming; SoundExchange anniversary; Jeff Price

Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 1:05pm

Library music streaming: You can borrow ebooks from public libraries with an intermediary app called OverDrive. Now, a similar service has arrived for borrowing music and movies from local libraries, assisted by software app Hoopla. Hoopla stands between provider (media owners) and libraries, which must grapple with a buying model different from CDs and DVDs. The result, when it all comes together, is that library patrons can “borrow” music and movie titles by streaming them. Only a few dozen libraries across the U.S. are in the program currently.

SoundExchange celebrates its 10th: Anniversary, that is. SoundExchange, an important part of the commercial music ecosystem, is a performing rights organization that collects and distributes royalties to musicians and labels. Those royalties derive from many different venues, though broadcast radio is legally exempt from paying royalties to performers and labels. (Some broadcast groups do pay artist/label royalties in accord with open-market negotiation. That is a key point in the recently introduced Free Market Royalty Act.) Here is an infographic summarizing SoundExchange’s growth and collection amounts.

Jeff Price unloads: Jeff Price, founder of Audiam (which finds and distributes hidden royalties on YouTube) and TuneCore (a digital distributor of independent music), unleashes a meaty rampage (here) on the thesis of why selling music is no longer important in the age of Internet radio. “Spotify doesn’t need to stream the music it carries, nor be profitable from those songs it does stream, in order for its investors and owners to reach their financial finish line of selling the company or taking it public to make billions.” It might seem unusual for an accomplished venture entrepreneur to expound an Occupy Startups theme, but it does provide a knowing perspective.

Spotify's spotty Spotlight

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 12:45pm

Some noise is happening around Spotify’s recently-announced and felicitously-named Spotlight feature, which aspires to highlight new and exclusive music. Today’s view of Spotlight features Drake and Arcade Fire, so it’s not exactly bleeding-edge alt. Two up-and-comers, Haim and Lorde, are atop the new feature, and those two groups are getting most of the PR attention as Spotlight rolls out.

Never mind the confusions of whether Spotlight is looking under rocks for unknown talent or sitting on the couch with stars, the main problem is product bafflement. Interested users can’t figure out exactly what Spotlight is or how to find it. We scratched our heads here, poking at various Spotify environments (web app, Windows desktop app, Android phone app, iPad app) like chimps with sticks, trying to find a Spotlight-branded feature. On the Spotify blog, where Spotlight was vaguely announced Monday, one disgruntled customer griped, “You’d think they’d at least tell us what the product is.”

Answer: Spotlight is, in part, a Spotify-curated playlist. Find it by searching for “Spotlight On 2013.” The playlist has about 1,500 followers as of this post -- not huge uptake. But there's more to the fragmented Spotlight product. Feature articles, including band profiles of Spotlight artists (Haim and Lorde again), are branded as "Spotlight On" pieces, and can be found in the Browse section, after clicking the News button.  

Spotlight is clearly not (yet?) a broken-out discovery environment. And the playlist, in our opinion, isn’t compellingly interesting. But Spotify users should keep their hopes high for development here. Spotify is powering into “360 programming” -- witness the Spotify Landmark series, which debuted with an elaborate multimedia presentation of Nirvana history. So it would not be a surprise if Spotlight turned into an integrated feature that threw its marketing muscle behind new bands (much-needed positive PR, there), and which gave its users a more coherent environment to dig into. 

QUICK HITS: Royalty bill; listening while flying; Audio Industry Summit

Monday, September 30, 2013 - 12:10pm

Free Market Royalty Act: As promised (or threatened, depending on one’s perspective), on Monday morning Rep. Mel Watt introduced a bill that would have broadcast radio pay artist royalties, evening the playing field (again, depending on vantage) for Internet radio services. No doubt a developing story with reactions and commentary to come. (See Inside Radio note here.)

FAA prepares new gadget recommendations: Before long you’ll be able to listen to downloaded Rhapsody/Spotify/Rdio (to name a few) playlists while ascending to, and descending from, 10,000 feet. That annoying and arguably nonsensical devices-off period will be discontinued if the FAA, as reported, recommends that airlines eliminate it. Flying rules are determined by each airline, but are strongly influenced by FAA recommendations. Airplane Mode will still be required of devices during airplane use -- and the enforcement problem is not solved in the slightest. (See Digital Trends here.)

The Audio Industry Summit: This gathering is held in conjunction with Advertising Week in New York. Radio Ink covers highlights of last week’s sessions, which included discussions of the Arbitron/Nielsen merger, streaming radio, social media, and the future of radio. (See Radio Ink here.)

RAIN Summit Orlando now available for audio streaming

Friday, September 27, 2013 - 12:45pm

Did you miss RAIN Summit Orlando, the premiere gathering of Internet radio professionals? Now you can catch up with the entire audio content of RSO panels, keynotes, and RAIN Internet Radio Awards, either via streaming or downloading. For web listening, look at the sidebar of this page for the orange Play button. Click on any session listed beneath it, to hear that entire session.

The audio tracks are stored on SoundCloud (here), which is where you want to go for downloading any or all of the Summit sessions. Once downloaded, you can transfer to mobile and listen while sitting in a cafe (to block out the alt-caffeine soundtrack), while working out (Summit topics definitely get the heart pumping), or while meditating (for subliminal intake).

The Summit agenda and speaker list are laid out here. Broad topics include ad insertion, alternative revenue strategies, building a digital sales team, the Internet radio marketplace, streaming music trends, connected cars, and keynotes from Entercom CEO David Field and RAIN founder Kurt Hanson.

Getting a second wind, Grooveshark CEO forecasts live concert streaming

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 11:40am

Grooveshark, considered by many to be a bad boy of music streaming platforms, may be gradually emerging from a tangle of legal assaults. Last month the service scored a licensing agreement with Sony/ATV. A previous agreement with EMI was undermined by the label’s accusation that Grooveshark failed to produce accounting statements, but that complaint was settled, and the deal resumed last month (as noted in RAIN here).

The source of legal claims from the major labels (some of which are still in process) centers around Grooveshark hosting song files uploaded by users. Although the company purportedly responds to takedown requests, operating a business under continual DMCA shelter is like living in a tent during a hailstorm -- the protection is inadequate and you spend all your time repairing damage.

In an interview published in Business Insider, Grooveshark CEO Sam Tarantino forecast the future in terms of “a 360-degree consumer experience.” His particular focus is live concert transmissions, and Tarantino compares the economics of selling record products to high ticket prices of concert shows. The logic is that there is a sweet monetization spot around distributing live acts online, at lower cost to the listener, while building a more complete fan-artist relationship.

Read the complete interview at Business Insider here.

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