Last.fm

Last.fm's Baumschlager heading to Rdio

Friday, February 3, 2012 - 11:00am

Stefan BaumschlagerStefan Baumschlager, Chief Label Pleaser for CBS Interactive's Last.fm, is leaving to join on-demand music service Rdio.

Baumschlager tells All Access he'll help Rdio "with their roll-out across Europe." He had served with Last.fm for more than 5 years.

All Access has more coverage here.

Convergence of broadcast and online radio may question logic of keeping audience estimates separate

Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 9:00am

The ongoing tussle between the broadcast radio industry (which we covered most recently here and here) and Internet radio (mostly Pandora) over ad dollars is now on display for the ad industry in the pages (and website) of AdWeek.

"The streaming services need advertising dollars, and they have monies previously allotted to broadcast budgets in their crosshairs," reads the article, titled Streaming Music Has a Problem—It's a Huge Success. "It is, in general, a well-trod story: New medium goes after old ad dollars. But in this case, the stakes are unusually high. Online radio’s very survival depends on stealing ad dollars from its traditional counterpart, and it needs to do it fast." 

See, Internet radio's ad revenues have been estimated at just 5% those of the broadcast radio industry. In fact, listening is growing far more quickly than ad sales (Pandora CEO Joe Kennedy told CNBC (see video here), "In the short run we really continue to focus on investing (in) this tremendous opportunity to disrupt the traditional radio business. Today we only have a bit more than 4% of all radio listening in this country," he added, which "illustrates how much opportunity lies ahead of us.").

Then of course there's the "onerous" royalties arrangement for copyright sound recordings (an obligation broadcasters don't have, and the terms of which can't be changed until at least 2015) putting pressure on webcasters to bring those ad dollars in.

Aside from the size of the pile (eMarketer estimates broadcast radio's 2011 ad revenue at $15.7 billion -- the graphic you see is from AdWeek), what makes traditional radio ad dollars a logical target for webcasters is the form online radio advertising is taking: traditional audio spots. "As streaming usage migrates to mobile (70% of Pandora’s listening is via smartphones, for example) and vehicles (which utilize smartphones), the ads need to look and feel a lot more like traditional broadcast spots than display ads," AdWeek staff writer Erin Griffith reports. "Filling that mobile inventory with audio spots, supported by broadcast-allocated ad dollars, requires that streaming services are defined as radio, not digital."

And as webcasting emulates the broadcast model, broadcasters have buttressed their position by adopting customizable and interactive digital services themselves (e.g. Clear Channel Radio's iHeartRadio, CBS Radio's Radio.com on top of CBS's purchase of Last.fm). "As consumption of all media shifts online, both sides — their respective diss wars aside — will likely need to act more like the other in order to sell their ad inventory." And this perhaps calls into question the logic of cordoning off listening estimates for broadcasters from those of webcasters. Especially when ad dollars, for both sides, are at stake.

Read the AdWeek article here. And we'd love for you to leave a comment with your thoughts (if you don't see the form below, please click the "Add a comment" link).

Mashup of Last.fm, Spotify, SXSW helps you pick which bands to see at the festival

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 11:00am

Lastsx.swLastsx.ws is a new mash-up of streaming music services that helps you decide which artists to see at SXSW -- the Austin, TX festival that runs from March 13-18 this year.

The service uses your Last.fm listening info to pair you with similar acts scheduled to play at SXSW, then lets you listen to those artists through Spotify.

Evolver.fm has more coverage here and you can find Lastsx.ws here.

12/9: Spotify plants a flag in online radio territory with a revamped approach

Friday, December 23, 2011 - 11:00am

In a move publications across the web are describing as "taking on Pandora," Spotify today announced it will soon re-launch its revamped customizable Internet radio service.

The refreshed radio service lives as an "app" inside Spotify's desktop program (which is primarily focused on listening to music on-demand). It offers users the ability to create radio streams out of artists, songs or genres. Users will be able to skip an unlimited number of tracks and bookmark songs for later on-demand listening. The service even provides users with a long list of radio station suggestions based on their listening history (read more here).

The new service is enabled by Spotify's new app platform (here) that allows partners like Rolling Stone and Last.fm to steer listeners towards new music discoveries in the same way traditional radio has for years.

New HTML5-powered Last.fm Discover packs a visual punch

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 11:05am

Last.fm DiscoverCBS-owned Last.fm has launched a new online radio service called Last.fm Discover. As its name implies, the service focuses on helping users find new music from upcoming independent artists.

Last.fm Discover is reportedly based on a library of 2 million tracks. It features a playful HTML5 layout where users "stroll" through virtual hills, uncovering different musical styles along the way (some quite ridiculous).

Users can click any style to launch a radio stream of similar music. Users can then customize their stream by requesting additional similar music or something different. Some tracks can be even listened to on-demand. Last.fm even creates instant playlists out of single songs users select.

"This isn’t revolutionary, but it is fun," comments GigaOM. "That makes a big difference in a market that relies, to some degree, on novelty."

That seems to be the point, according to Last.fm's head of product Matthew Hawn. He told GigaOM that "too often online music 'ends up looking like a spreadsheet.'" Last.fm Discover is anything but a spreadsheet, applying new visual ideas to online radio.

You can try Last.fm Discover here and find GigaOM's coverage here.

Apps for on-demand service Spotify add "interesting, programmed and curated channels"

Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 11:00am

Spotify's new app platformYesterday on-demand music service Spotify announced a new app platform that allows partners like Rolling Stone and Last.fm to steer listeners towards new music discoveries in the same way traditional radio has for years.

For example, the app from CBS Music Interactive's Last.fm will not only recommend new Spotify music to users but will automatically create radio-like playlists based on a single track or the user's listening history. "This is bound to be a killer app for the service," writes Engadget (here).

Rolling Stone's app similarly will offer curated playlists every day "to highlight cool new music," writes VentureBeat. "A Moodagent app will help choose tracks according to your state of mind," writes MediaPost

"The apps turn Spotify into something more than just a streaming music service," comments VentureBeat. "Now, Spotify can be the center of your musical universe."

"Spotify becomes an on-demand service AND an endless number of interesting, programmed and curated channels with this move," writes Audio4Cast's Jennifer Lane (here).

Other app partners include Billboard, Pitchfork, We Are Hunted, The Guardian and others. Spotify will allow other third-party developers to build apps as well. 

In sum, the apps will help users discover and learn more about new music -- all within Spotify's "sandbox." The app platform moves Spotify closer to competing directly with Internet radio services, if not radio as a whole.

Though currently only available to desktop users, the company may eventually bring the app to mobile devices as well.

Spotify is an on-demand music streaming service, allowing users to listen to specific songs out of a library of 15 million tracks. The company offers an ad-support free service and paid subscription offerings. It directly competes with other services like MOG, Rdio and Rhapsody. It currently has 2.5 million paid members worldwide.

You can find out more from Spotify here, VentureBeat here and MediaPost here

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