connected cars

RAIN Summit Orlando Session 7: The Race to the Dashboard

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 10:45am

Presented by Triton Digital, this discussion will range from best ways for integration to happen (in dash, versus receiver) to identifying aggregators, to discussing best options for both listeners and streaming services during the interim stages.

Moderator: Brad Hill (RAIN: Radio and Internet Newsletter)

Panelists: Geoff Snyder (Pandora), Scott Burnell (Ford Motor Company), Ted Cardenas (Pioneer Electronics), Kevin Straley (TuneIn) , Steve Cotter (Slacker)

Weekend Perspective: Week Oct. 21-25

Friday, October 25, 2013 - 5:10pm

RAIN’s Weekend Perspective summarizes the week’s important events for a weekend catch-up, and revives your blasted synapses for coming week.

 

PARTNERSHIPS

Clear Channel and Black River: The radio group added to its growing portfolio of partnerships with record labels. Details not disclosed, but this one likely follows the template of Clear Channels agreement with Warner Music Group: higher broadcast royalties, lower streaming royalties, artist promotions on radio. [READ]

MUSIC SERVICES & APPS 

iTunes Radio reaches 20M listeners: And media outlets indulge in fuzzy math by comparing iTunes Radio and Pandora audience metrics, which use different standards. [READ

YouTube music service: YouTube is the gorilla in the room when it comes to music services. Not formally set up for music, the platform is nonetheless rampantly used for music search and playback, especially by young listeners. RAIN analyzes whether YouTube would compete with itself by formalizing a music service. [READ]

Sirius XM disappoints subscribers: Unexpectedly and without explanation, Sirius XM dropped several popular Clear Channel stations. The satellite company’s Facebook page swarmed with malcontent. [READ]

...and raises their rates: In its quarterly call to Wall Street investors, Sirius XM (SIRI) showed off steep gains in revenue and subscriptions from a year ago, but also lowered guidance for 2014 and raised rates on subscribers. [READ]

Twitter #Music nearing the end: Not official, but reports have us believe that Twitter’s music no-quite-service, underdeveloped but sometimes fun, and only six months old, will be shelved. [READ]

Microsoft plays the Web: Xbox Music was updated, and one new feature struck us as unique and potentially disruptive: a way of building a playlist from any web site that mentions artists and bands. [READ]

Rhapsody courts CD buyers: The music service gives one-month free subs to CD buyers at Best Buy. It’s an interesting play for consumers who might not be converted from ownership to access. [READ]

Songza updates: The Songza app is prettified for iOS 7. [READ]

“This American Life” goes endless: The public radio program, hosted by Ira Glass, has an 18-year archive of shows. A new TuneIn stream plays them continuously, with zero interactivity, for total saturation. [READ]

British music service sailing for U.S.: That would be Pure Connect, which works seamlessly with Pure WiFi devices. [READ]

ILLUMINATION 

Jim Lucchese: The CEO of The Echo Nest, a music intelligence company, describes how it powers many of the features used by millions of people across hundreds of music services. [READ Part 1] [READ Part 2]

DASH conference: A two-day conference in Detroit scrutinized every aspect of the connected-car movement, from the viewpoint of radio, solution providers, automakers, aftermarket companies, car dealers, and disc jockeys. RAIN was there. [DASH Day 1] [DASH Day 2]

OUTBURSTS 

Dave Allen vs. David Byrne: It’s a blog-debate. Settle in -- each of these gentlemen is voluble on the subject of Spotify. [READ]

 

DASH Connected Car conference, Day 2

Friday, October 25, 2013 - 11:45am

Jacobs Media presented the second and final day of DASH, The Connected Car AudioTainment Conference yesterday in Detroit. (See Day 1 coverage here.)

Day 2 added a new dimension to the previous day’s industry discussions about the future of radio in the car, by introducing car dealers into the cross-sector mix. Three Detroit dealership owners were featured onstage before an attentive audience of radio pros eager to learn what type of listening consumers want in their cars. Some of the learnings were blunt: “If you are getting into the car via an antenna, and everyone is connecting digitally, you’re going to be left out.” And, on the revenue side: “You’d have to give me quantified data, for me to continue advertising with you.” One dealer wrapped up his contributions with this rueful comment: “When I got into car dealership, I didn’t know I’d have to understand the Internet as much as I need to.”

A session called “What’s New in the Car?” spotlighted execs from two car companies (Toyota, GM) and two aftermarket providers (Pioneer, Panasonic). Greg Ross, head of infotainment at GM, noted his company’s commitment to Internet connectivity: “16-million cars will be sold this year, and all will be connected.”

Larry Rosin of Edison Research showed video results of a consumer survey of new-car buyers, providing the day’s best LOL entertainment. The audience chuckled over segments featuring the difficulties of operating tech-heavy dashboards. There was no chuckling over brick-wall sentiments expressed by some subjects, especially when asked how their listening habits have been changed by expanded options. “I don’t listen to radio anymore because I don’t have to,” asserted one.

Erica Farber, president of the Radio Advertising Bureau, moderated a panel investigation of in-car ad strategies. Later, a cohort of radio DJs were questioned about their perspective on connected cars by Buzz Knight, VP of Greater Media.

Ed Cohen from Nielsen (who started the "Wild West” characterization of connected cars) hosted a consumer tracking panel, and Scott Burnell (Ford) joined Brian Lakamp (Clear Channel/iHeart) and Sarah Lumbard (NPR) in a discussion about partnering with automakers.

Sirius XM reports record earnings, lowers guidance, raises rates

Friday, October 25, 2013 - 11:45am

From the department of mixed messages, Sirius XM reported record earnings on yesterday’s quarterly call, predicted disappointing earnings for 2014, and handed a rate increase to subscribers. SIRI stock is down over six percent on Friday, as of this post.

The third quarter was positive for the satellite broadcaster, showing year-over-year revenue growth of 11 percent, and subscriber growth of 9 percent over Q3 2012. Good wind for sailing forward? Well … the company shaved nearly $200-million off the average $4.17-billion revenue estimate Wall Street predicted for 2014, and handed a price increase of six dollars per year to its 26.5-million subscribers. The street isn’t over the moon about the lowered forecast, but favors Sirius XM’s confidence in hiking rates for only the second time since 2008.

Satellite radio faces the future with enviable advantages, and strengthening competitive headwind -- especially in the car. Most new cars have factory-installed satellite receivers, and offer months-long trial subscriptions designed to addict new listeners to the Sirius XM service. That distribution tactic plays out to a 45-percent conversion from trial to paid subscription. Historically, satellite’s increasingly entrenched position in the dashboard has disrupted AM/FM’s traditional reign in the car, forcing it to share built-in dash territory.

Going forward, Internet-connected dashboards offer an expanded suite of built-in listening choices. Even disconnected head units that permit smartphone plugs insert a competitive wedge between the driver and what comes through the car speakers. Pandora is the leading IP-delivered alternative to both AM/FM and satellite in the car, and many other options (including iPod playlists) cater to fine-tuned user customization better than one-to-many broadcast models.

INTERVIEW: Fred Jacobs and the DASH conference

Friday, October 4, 2013 - 10:30am

The connected car, built with a digital dashboard and Internet-delivered audio, is an increasingly vital touchstone for both broadcast radio and Internet radio. With that in mind, research and consulting firm Jacobs Media is hosting DASH: The Connected Car AudioTainment(™) Conference, scheduled for October 23 and 24 in Detroit, where the company is located. (See the DASH site here; the conference agenda is here.)

DASH is a deep dive -- a day-and-a-half conference devoted to the present and future of infotainment in the car. The event seeks to bring together many sectors which are converging in the space for a comprehensive discussion of how different influencers are shaping the future of car radio.

RAIN spoke with Jacobs Media president Fred Jacobs, to discuss the vision of his DASH conference.

RAIN: How did the DASH conference come to be?

FJ: The idea was to put together a mash-up of constituencies that are critically important to the conversation -- OEMs, tier-1s, advertising agencies in the automotive space, and car dealers. And of course radio people. There are a lot of moving parts. The challenge was to put together a conference that touches on all these different flavors.

To us, it’s simple. When you think about the role the car plays in the overall health and welfare of the radio business, it comes down to two things. First, the lion’s share of listening to broadcast radio takes place behind the wheel. Second, automotive is the largest category of revenue generation for most radio stations. So we thought: Let’s design a conference solely dedicated to the connected car.

Another genesis of this was the Consumer Electronics Show. A few years ago, Alan Mulally of Ford presented one of the keynotes. The automakers are excited about the [connected car] space. At many of [the tech-oriented conferences], radio is MIA. Pandora is there, satellite is there. We felt that radio needed to figure out that this space is critically important, and radio needs to be there.

RAIN: Radio has the most to lose in a big disruption taking place in the car. If radio is behind the curve, what do you think is the future of AM/FM in the car?

FJ: AM/FM is always going to be there. But broadcast radio outlets have to rethink their strategic position. For the most part, radio stations have been in competition with other stations down the dial for ratings and revenue. Part of what DASH is all about is to help open up their points of view to begin to see that they’re competing on a much grander scale.

You might think, ‘We have time.’ I think that would be a mistake. The radio industry needs to engage with the space, we need to get involved, deepen our relationships with the car companies -- they really do represent a large part of our future. We need to engage with them and let them know that broadcast radio always has been, and always needs to be, an important element of what is rolling off these assembly lines. We’re hoping that this event really helps deepen the relationship.

RAIN: In your “Connected Car” Super Session at the Radio Show in Orlando last month, you and Roger Lanctot showed videos of prospective car buyers grappling with the challenge of turning on the radio in digital dashboards. You also predicted that by 2017, all cars would be knob-free. Are those videos a warning to car companies?

FJ: They are. It’s very Wild West out there. The car companies are all moving in different directions. None of these systems talk to each other. The OEMs feel that what they’re developing is the right way for them. It’s every company for itself. They’re all doing extensive research to figure out what the consumer wants, but it’s still pretty embryonic. Those videos really show that.

Of course, they also showed people who hadn’t had any orientation. But there’s some logic there. If we handed somebody an iPhone, who had never seen one before, chances are pretty good that, after playing with it for a couple of minutes, they’d be able to make a phone call or send a text. And that is typically not the case in [the digital dashboard] space. So [the car companies] have a long way to go here.

RAIN: One of the sessions at DASH represents car dealers.

FJ: I’m really excited about the car dealer session. They’re the ones who are charged with training customers to figure out how this works. It’s the local car dealer you go to when you’re having a problem with your system. They’re hiring specialists, they’re doing classes on Saturday -- it really has changed the nature of the dealership.

The other piece is the way car dealers and their ad agencies are looking to buy local media to build their brands. There is change happening at the dealership level. We think it’s important that DASH represent the car dealer.

RAIN: If AM/FM has the most to lose, pureplays have the most to gain.

FJ: Absolutely right. It’s important that they be there. Pandora jumped right in. We’ve got TuneIn and iHeart. I like the idea of bringing in lots of different players and turning them loose. You’re going to meet people and talk to people that you don’t normally see at conferences. At last count we’ve got 45 speakers -- paneling, moderating, keynoting, participating onstage. It’s a 360-degree view of the connected car. Our feeling is that our attendees will return from this conference with a much deeper understanding of what’s going on.

RAIN: What do you hope will be advanced during the DASH conference?

FJ: The goal is to bring these segments together at one conference, let people work together, talk to each other. The auto companies all understand the value of broadcast radio. They don’t need to be convinced that it’s viable. Broadcast radio needs to show that we care, are engaged, and understand the importance of the space.

What we also hope comes out of this conference is a greater realization of what broadcast radio’s true value is, as content providers. When you talk to automotive people about what broadcast brings to the table, they talk about local, they talk about personality, they talk about community. Yet, at times, [radio] has gotten away from those values. When it comes to the connected car, broadcast radio needs to redefine its value proposition, in an environment where there is increased competition, and commit to its unique differentiating elements. That is long overdue. We believe a conference like this can help accelerate that thinking.

I really think that no matter what your place in radio is, there is absolutely going to be something here for you. Personally, I hope that I have an opportunity to catch my breath, sit in the seats, and take some notes!

Fred Jacobs and Roger Lanctot illuminate the mysteries of Net-connected cars at The Radio Show

Friday, September 20, 2013 - 9:10am

It is an oft-repeated platitude that AM/FM will never be outcast from digitally empowered cars of the future. That might be true, given broadcast’s stalwart advantages of locality, simplicity, and ubiquity. Even accepting that premise, though, doesn’t address questions of form. What will AM/FM look like on the dashboard of a 2020 model-year car? How will it be operated?

Fred Jacobs (Jacobs Media) and Roger Lanctot (Strategy Analytics) took a swing at imagining the future by documenting digitally advanced versions of the present in their joint presentation, “Radio and the Connected Car,” at The Radio Show in Orlando. A highlight of the 45-minute multimedia session was a segment of consumer-testing videos staged in cars with digital dashboards. (That is to say, dashboards with infotainment display screens controlled by touch or voice.) In each of the four clips, a subject was given one task while sitting in the driver’s seat: “Find your local radio station.”

The setup foretold some amusement, and indeed, the audience tittered as test subjects helplessly swiped, scrolled, and called out commands in their attempts to simply turn on the radio. The tests did not represent actual new-car ownership, which in 2013 is supported by dashboard training at the dealership, but the point was less about the intrinsic value of sophisticated dashboard control than about the likely disappearance of push-button radio … and with it, the simplicity and naturalness which encourage broadcast listening.

One couldn’t help noticing, in the close-up views of four distinct dashboard systems, how divergent were the OEM approaches. One featured voice-based command-and-response, and another spotlighted Tesla’s vertically oriented 17-inch touch screen.

The operating systems powering these control platforms (and struggling to turn on the radio) differed from each other far more than Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile platforms do. Even throwing Windows 8 into the comparison, the car companies seem to be widening the chasm that separates drivers from a standard set of infotainment control features. If a unifying standard would coalesce this still-nascent product field, reduce development cost in the industry, and help consumers (of both new cars and rentals) get a grip on, well, turning on the radio -- that outlook seems like a receding vision.

Whether OEMs take many paths forward or few, Jacobs and Lanctot believe that the future will arrive in four to seven years. Their specific predictions? 140-million connected cars in 2017. (This means some kind of link to the internet and IP-delivered audio.) Universal plug-and-play in cars by 2020 -- in other words, Bluetooth or USB connections. (Their prognosis for the aux-in plug is grim: it’s on the way out.) And finally, in 2017, Jacobs and Lanctot claim that all cars will be knob-free. Or knob-deprived, depending on how facile you are with voice commands and 17-inch screens.

[On a side note, congratulations to Fred and Paul Jacobs and all our friends and colleagues at Jacobs Media, which this week marked 30 years in the business. With the Classic Rock format, audience research like its annual TechSurvey, and the birth of its jacAPPS mobile apps division, Jacobs Media has left its mark, and continues to do so, on our industry. Bravo!]

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