iHeartRadio

QUICK HITS: Musicians on Spotify; iHeartRadio Theater pics

Friday, October 11, 2013 - 11:45am

Video: NME Magazine took a video camera to young musicians in the U.K. to ask them, bluntly, whether Spotify is evil. (Watch it here.) The answers were (perhaps politely) all variations on the theme of “No.” Musicians (at least, the ones edited in) expressed favor for the exposure and marketing opportunities of being on the Spotify platform.

iHeartRadio Theater pics: Four years after opening its New York City theater, iHeartRadio is expanding its venue business to Los Angeles. Using a remodeled TV studio (formerly the stage for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno), iHeart will host an opening night featuring Katy Perry, as has been well publicized. Billboard got inside the place, still showing signs of construction, and snapped some photos. (See them here.) There’s also some Q&A with Clear Channel exec Tom Poleman. 

RAIN Weekend Perspective

Friday, October 4, 2013 - 10:30am

RAIN’s Weekend Perspective reviews the week's main events, and refreshes your synapses for next week.

The week started with a legislative bang when Rep. Melvin Watt introduced the Free Market Royalty Act in Congress. (Just in time for a general governmental shutdown.) The bill has two main planks: first, to withdraw the terrestrial radio exemption from paying artist and label royalties, and second, to remove the government from its traditional role as arbiter of royalty rates. RAIN interviewed attorney and consultant David Oxenford. Today, Oxenford posts a comprehensive analysis of the bill on his Broadcast Law Blog.

METRICS

On the metrics front, important measurements arrived from Triton Digital and Pandora.

Triton’s Top-20 Web Metrics Ranker for August revealed broad, if incremental, webcast gains across broadcast streams and pureplays measured in the report.

Meanwhile, Pandora (which is included in the Triton report) released its own monthly Audience Metrics report for September, announcing substantial year-over-year gains in active listeners, listening hours, and share of all U.S. radio listening. Small month-over-month gains were reported as well. September was the first month in which Pandora and iTunes Radio operated concurrently, a competition undergoing much scrutiny. The results of that half-month of activity bolsters Pandora’s claim that Apple’s new service does not pose a dangerous threat to Pandora’s audience growth or retention. But, of course, it’s early days.

PARTNERSHIPS:

A few business development scenarios enlivened the week. First, and most significantly, Rdio augmented its service model by introducing free, unlimited Internet radio-style streaming to its mobile apps, which previous allowed only a 14-day trial before asking customers to subscribe for ongoing listening. The new feature, called Stations, is ad-supported, thanks to Cumulus Radio repping Rdio’s inventory as part of the recently completed deal between the two companies. Rdio and Cumulus wasted no time putting their alliance into action. 

Songza linked arms with FourSquare, inviting users of the lean-back streaming service to check in at select FourSquare locations to receive Songza rewards -- including six months of free premium service in some cases.

Clear Channel-owned iHeartRadio moved to flesh out the Talk section of its radio aggregation platform, snagging rights to distribute certain Turner Broadcasting content. The new shows and clips will help balance an already strong ABC presence in iHeart Talk.

 

Spotify adds four countries to its international portfolio

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 12:10pm

As jubilantly announced on its public blog (“Hello Argentina, Taiwan, Greece and Turkey -- Spotify here!”), the interactive streamer has expanded its reach. With the addition of those four, Spotify now distributes its desktop and mobile app experiences in 32 countries. The deal is standard Spotify: free, ad-supported desktop listening, a subscription tier to eliminate the ads, and a higher sub plan for mobile streaming and downloading.

Here are the international ranges of other music listening platforms:

  • iTunes Radio: U.S. only Xbox Music: 22 countries (free streaming available in 15)
  • Google All Access: 11 countries (U.S., Australia, added nine European countries in August)
  • TuneIn Radio: 80 countries and territories (see here)
  • iHeartRadio: U.S. only
  • Pandora: three countries (U.S., New Zealand, Australia)
  • Rdio: 31 countries
  • Rhapsody: 17 countries (some non-U.S. apps are branded as Rhapsody-owned Napster)
  • Slacker: U.S. and Canada
  • Songza: U.S. and Canada

As a counterpoint to the relentless regional agnosticism of internet radio (notwithstanding streaming broadcasts featured on TuneIn and iHeart), you might want to read remarks delivered by FTC Commissioner Ajit Pai (PDF) at last week's Radio Show luncheon. In his speech, Commissioner Pai held forth on the value of localism, before discussing revitalization of the AM band. 

iHeartRadio music fest to stream live on Yahoo Music and PS3

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 12:40pm

Clear Channel has announced its 2013 iHeartRadio Music Festival will stream live via Yahoo Music and the Playstation 3 gaming console (It will also be broadcast live via Clear Channel terrestrial stations nationwide).

The fest will also be televised as a two-night primetime special on September 30 on The CW Network.

Now in its third year, the festival takes place in Las Vegas this Friday and Saturday. Musical acts booked to appear include Justin Timberlake, Paul McCartney, Katy Perry, J. Cole, Elton John, Muse, Tiësto, and more.

Cumulus acquires stake in Rdio, will launch free, ad-supported music service

Monday, September 16, 2013 - 10:55am

Major broadcast radio group Cumulus and online subscription streaming service Rdio have forged a deal that gives Cumulus a significant online outlet, and not only affords Rdio access to the broadcaster's music programming, but allows it to launch a free, ad-supported service in the U.S.

Cumulus will sell ad inventory for the free service. The new service will likely feature a combination of Internet radio and on-demand listening.

No cash changes hands in the new deal. According to a press statement, "Cumulus will obtain a significant equity stake in Pulser Media, Rdio's parent company, in exchange for exclusive content, media and on-air promotional commitments over a five year period."

"This is our digital play," Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey told The New York Times in a joint interview Friday with Rdio chief Drew Larner.

Cumulus operates 525 AM and FM stations. Cumulus station streams are available on Clear Channel's iHeartRadio platform.

Dickey told the paper, "We’re trying to be much more active in the audio ecosystem than just passively handing our streams over. That has severe limitations in terms of our ability to monetize."

Rdio launched in 2010 by Janus Friis, the co-creator of Skype. It's available in 31 countries. Its most direct competitors are services like Spotify, Google Music All Access, Rhapsody, and Mog.

The New York Times has more here.

Songza raises $4.7M to forge ahead with ad solution program

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 9:20am

Internet radio service Songza completed a $4.7M round of private equity funding yesterday, almost exactly two years after receiving $2M in venture funds (as reported in CrunchBase). Yesterday’s commitment will be invested in scaling Songza’s native sponsoring platform, in which advertising creative is integrated into Songza “life moments” streams. (See Billboard's reporting here.)

Internet radio advertising lags the sophisticated user targeting of the web at large. If demographic ID is a brass ring, personal targeting is a holy grail. The most rudimentary network advertising on the web can accomplish the former, while browser-cookie placement and personal profiling can deliver startlingly individualized results. Targeting technology is what makes a user’s eyes widen in astonishment (and often alarm) when an ad pops up on Facebook that reflects browsing activity on external sites just a few minutes before, refined by an understanding of the user’s personal Facebook profile.

Internet radio ads generally convey a better sense of protected privacy, but in advertising, privacy equals cluelessness and reduced value. For users who don’t have knee-jerk reactions against targeted ads, irrelevant sponsor messages that interrupt an audio stream can seem all the more intrusive and annoying for their blindness. Recent tests of iHeartRadio (video pre-roll) and Pandora mobile (display pop-ups) betray some network buying at a low value to both the user and the advertiser. (Songza runs irrelevant ads, too.)

Songza’s specialty programming offers curated music streams targeted to common life situations, day parts, environments, and moods. The categories are often smartly thought-out; one at-work channel eliminates all lyrics (good for writers). It makes sense, and might even be pioneering, to evolve ad solutions that match the “life moments” of each stream, where the curation of sponsor messaging is pertinent to the user’s real-world circumstance. And since Songza offers registration via Facebook and Google+ (standard for many sites, but not all internet listening services), and requires access to the user’s personal profile, the second crucial part of holy-grail targeting is in place.

Songza isn’t mentioned as often as Pandora, Apple, and Spotify in industry coverage. But this round of capital funding could result in distinct revenue rewards, while providing a more personalized (if snoopish) consumer experience.

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