Internet radio

It takes more than a good algorithm to top Gizmodo's "Best Streaming Radio" ranking

Friday, May 17, 2013 - 12:20pm

Gizmodo contributor Mario Aguilar decided to find the best "automated DJ" on a streaming music or Internet radio service, pitting eight top services against each other for his "The Best Streaming Radio."  

His original intent was to find the service with the algorithm that created the best sounding user-generated station (he only considered services that offer "generative playlists" -- the ability for users to create "stations" on the fly by simply typing in a single artist, song title, or genre). Nearly immediately he realized picking a winner based solely on a good mix was futile, as they all, by and large, do a pretty good job at this task.

So he widened his considerations to other facets of the services -- "integration with social networks to the design and overall usability of each service's unique features" -- for the shoot-out.

I'll let you click through to see his ranking, but I'll include a few of his points here about specific services:

Turns out he's not a fan of Clear Channel's iHeartRadio service, which (he wrote), "does so little and doesn't do it especially well." He called it "radio in the most traditional sense," and didn't mean it as a compliment, since "regular radio stations are terrible, which is why we turned to the Internet in the first place."

Pandora, which is "showing its age," only fared a little better. He found the service "less evolved" with only "very basic" social integration -- but "if Pandora has a selling point it's simplicity."

And though Last.fm may still have something to offer, in 2013 it "feels ancient." In fact, its concentration on scrobbling (tracking what you listen to on other services) makes it "more of a recommendation engine than a polished way to listen."

Aguilar actually had some high praise for Slacker's human-curated stations, which he says offer the "kind of variety you can't get from a machine." But, alas, this shoot-out was for algorithm-driven "generative playlist" channels. And the newly-redesigned Slacker interface seemed "ambitious and very good- looking, but it's pretty confusing" and "needs streamlining." Perhaps even worse, he said Slacker "completely missed the potential of social" media integration.

So -- does any service offer anything he likes? See which topped Gizmodo's The Best Streaming Radio here.

45% of TechSurvey 9 respondents listen to online radio weekly

Monday, May 6, 2013 - 1:00pm

Jacobs Media released the results of this year's TechSurvey 9 today -- their study of the habits and adoption of technology by radio listeners. Jacobs, for what it calls the "largest technology survey ever conducted for radio," examined how "Baby Boomers" plus "Gen's X, Y, and Z" across twelve radio formats use Internet streaming, social media, mobile technology, and more.

The TechSurvey 9 "Media Usage Pyramid 2013" (below) shows that 45% of Jacobs' respondents are now weekly Internet radio listeners. Interestingly, this is the same percentage Arbitron and Edison Research (in their Infinite Dial 2013 study) found as monthly Net radio users. Their weekly reach was just 33%. Keep in mind that The Infinite Dial examined a wider base of study subjects. See more in RAIN here.

Fully 20% of those studied are weekly Pandora listeners -- but Jacobs points out nearly a third of Pandora listeners are getting annoyed by commercials (that number was 20% last year).

This year, 11% of TechSurvey respondents own a "digital dash" system like Ford Sync in their cars. More than half of those surveyed can connect iPods or smartphones to their car's dash (62% of Gen Y).

In the press release, Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs says his "takeaway" is "radio’s ability to uniquely connect with consumers on their preferred platforms is the secret sauce for future success in the digital space." Likely a thought Jacobs will explain in more detail during the six webinars the team will present on the study (each focusing on a different radio format group). Details and registration are here. See more graphs from the study, including a larger version of the "Media Usage Pyramid," here.

StreamTrack announces partnership for multi-channel Net radio service for Asia

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 12:50pm

Santa Barbara-based StreamTrack, a digital media tech services company known for its RadioLoyalty platform, has entered a partnership to create an Internet radio brand for Asia, and specifically, China. 

The alliance is with PPTV (online video serving Chinese communities, with more than 200 live channels, and over 300 million registered users), China Mobile Entertainment Holdings, LTD (an online content company specializing in bringing western content to Asia), and One World Media Group (music, radio, and film production -- including their flagship Oneworldradio.tv).

China Mobile Entertainment will help secure content deals on behalf of PPTV, for their radio.pptv.com portal. Listeners will be able to tune in to popular International Top 40 programming as well as Latin, Caribbean, European, Asian, and Middle Eastern music, programmed by One World Media. The service will use StreamTrack's UniversalPlayer for streaming, and StreamTracks will manage ad sales and fulfillment on the platform.

StreamTrack's RadioLoyalty rewards stream listening with points, which consumers can redeem for merchandise.

Spotify would offer free, ad-supported Internet radio in markets Pandora can't access

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 3:35pm

Global music streaming service leader Spotify will reportedly soon offer ad-supported streaming radio in every country in which it operates.

Pandora, the leader in Internet radio, hasn't successfully negotiated licenses to operate outside the U.S., (and recently) Australia and New Zealand.

Spotify's main service is subscription-based, on-demand streaming. They do, however, offer a free, ad-supported, non-interactive streaming radio service as well. And while the service hasn't generated many rave reviews (we don't know about actual usage), especially when compared to Pandora, the move gives Spotify access to an audience Pandora doesn't have.

Three anonymous sources told Bloomberg Spotify is close to finalizing deals with record labels for the service, which is planned to launch next month.

Read more in Bloomberg here.

New Wahwah app users can "co-listen" to stations based on musical tastes or activity

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 12:20pm

The webcaster formerly known as Senzari has rebranded its streaming music service as "Wahwah," with a "mobile-first" approach, reports TechCrunch.

Actually, a "mobile-only" approach, at least for now. The Senzari web-based streaming service is being shut down and rebuilt (to relaunch in 2-3 months).

Wahwah.fm was itself a Berlin-based streaming music app, acquired by Senzari last October.

With the new Wahwah app, users can create personalized radio streams from a 15 million track music catalog. The app can also craft listening based on your current activity -- music for "working," "driving," or "running," for example.

There's also the "co-listening" option, by which listeners browse other users' shared radio streams (filtered by "trending," featured, location, friends, and activity). Apparently, the shared broadcasts are "live" -- that is, in real time, like a broadcast station (no pausing, skipping songs, etc.).

Senzari itself will reportedly remain the brand behind other future, non-music efforts. The company is based in Miami and backed by $3 million in funding. RAIN has covered Senzari (and Wahwah.fm) here. Read the TechCrunch report here.

Forbes writer thinks an Apple streaming play would hit Pandora in the ad revenue

Monday, February 25, 2013 - 12:00pm

Apple will hold its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, and naturally many are eager to hear the company's plans for a streaming music service. A Forbes writer predicts an Apple entry into streaming music wouldn't hurt SiriusXM, but it would likely take a toll on Pandora.

"The main issue for Pandora is going to be with advertisers," writes Richard Saintvilus. "This is where Apple will bring the most damage."

Apple would give Pandora competition for ad dollars it really doesn't have, and thus give advertisers leverage, which would drive ad rates down. Apple, with so many other revenue streams, could afford a music streaming service as a loss leader. Pandora, obviously, could not.

"This, then, puts Pandora in a position to sacrifice margin for revenue."

Saintvilus' bet is that Pandora gets acquired, by Facebook or Google. Read more in Forbes here.

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