Mel Karmazin

"SiriusXM is targeting the likes of Pandora and Spotify," says Billboard

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - 11:40am

SiriusXMFor those keeping score at home, there are now at least four major music companies looking to emulate Pandora-like personalized Internet radio. The latest addition is SiriusXM. Though the satellite radio company has for years now been hinting at some kind of "personalization" features (RAIN coverage from November 2010 here), details were nowhere to be found. Until now.

CEO Mel Karmazin said during SiriusXM's earnings call that, "Late this year, we plan to debut a SiriusXM version of personalized music online, allowing subscribers to tailor their favorite SiriusXM music channels to their tastes."

The web radio stations will be available to SiriusXM's Internet radio subscribers. And they will of course be commercial-free.

"Free and freemium competitors online will have a tough time matching the commercial-free aspect of SiriusXM-branded music combined with the unique sports and talk content we offer," argued Karmazin. Clear Channel's own personalized radio service is commercial-free, while Pandora and others offer to remove commercials for paying users.

"Make no mistake, SiriusXM is targeting the likes of Pandora and Spotify," writes Billboard. "SiriusXM's entry into personalized Internet radio shows this is a very competitive space." In just the past few weeks, its bee reported that Spotify, Rdio and are also developing Pandora-like Internet radio services (RAIN coverage here, here and here).

Karmazin also took the opportunity to attack streaming radio royalty rates, which he says are "extraordinarily high." And Billboard writes (here) we can expect SiriusXM "to become even more vocal about the webcasting royalties paid by services such as Pandora and iHeartRadio."

SiriusXM is already unhappy with its current royalty rates. The company has been trying to secure direct licenses with rightsholders, thereby avoid SoundExchange and the statutory license (RAIN coverage here). Then SiriusXM sued SoundExchange and A2IM for allegedly interfering with its attempts to obtain those direct licenses (RAIN coverage here and here).

Finally, SiriusXM recently updated its Android app to include more interactive features. The upgrade allows mobile users to replay up to 5 hours of content, start songs and shows from the beginning, skip ahead and access SiriusXM's new 2.0 channel line-up. You can find out more here.

SiriusXM chief: Personalized radio coming, mobile monetization difficult

Friday, February 10, 2012 - 11:25am

SiriusXM chief Mel Karmazin"Personalized radio" is coming later this year from SiriusXM, said CEO Mel Karmazin during a quarterly call. So is "on-demand" content. But he still views Internet radio as "not a game-changer" and says AM/FM radio "is still our biggest competitor, by far."

We've heard Karmazin hint about a personalized radio service before, ranging from August 2011 (RAIN coverage here) to just last January (here). Such an offering would be part of the satellite broadcaster's new 2.0 service, which launched in October 2011 (more here).

Karmazin also spoke to the difficulty of monetizing mobile audience -- an oft-raised concern as mobile takes a larger share of web radio listening. "There's just too much supply out there," he said. "It puts the power in the buyer of advertising."

You can find more coverage in today's Taylor on Radio-Info newsletter here.

New York Times talks to SiriusXM, SoundExchange chiefs following licensing uproar

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 12:00pm

Mel Karmazin, CEO of SiriusXMIn late October, artist unions and SoundExchange issued official statements protesting SiriusXM's attempts to directly license music from copyright holders, thus circumventing SoundExchange (RAIN coverage here). Reports of SiriusXM's direct licensing aims first surfaced in August (here).

“We think rights holders should benefit from a more competitive and open environment created by inviting individual labels to set their own value on their content rather than having to follow the industry collective,” SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin (pictured right) now tells the New York Times.

The NYT also spoke with SoundExchange president Michael J. Huppe, who said that "at the end of the day, what [SiriusXM is] trying to do is get content for less money." He said SoundExchange would continue to push in the opposite direction, asking for higher royalties from the satellite radio broadcaster. "We believe that content is already undervalued."

Comments the NYT: "Sirius’s move was only the latest example of a gradual shift in the financial infrastructure of music. Many companies, from major labels to providers of background music, have been trying to reduce costs and gain control by circumventing the large organizations that have historically processed licenses and royalties."

You can find the full New York Times article here.

Karmazin: Lynx to include on-demand and time-shifting capabilities

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 12:25pm

SiriusXM's coming 2.0 Lynx receiverSiriusXM grew its profits and subscriber base in Q3, the satellite radio broadcaster revealed in today's earnings call, while CEO Mel Karmazin offered more details about the coming 2.0 Lynx radio receiver.

The company saw a 54% gain in Q3 net profit, reaching $104.2 million after growing revenues by 6%. SiriusXM has cut programming and content expenses by 20% since the companies merged, according to Karmazin. (It hopes to reduce such costs further with direct licensing deals to avoid SoundExchange, more coverage here and here.)

SiriusXM now has 21.4 million subscribers, a new record high. The company gained more than 333,000 new subscribers in Q3, though that rate of growth is down compared to last year.

Finally, Karmazin discussed the yet-to-be-released, Android-powered Lynx radio (more coverage here). The 2.0 receiver will include on-demand music and talk programming and will be able to record up to 200 hours of content for later playback. Karmazin said the Lynx should be released before the end of the year.

Lynx will be one of the first devices to use SiriusXM's new 2.0 service, which includes more channels and will apparently eventually include personalization features (more here).

The CEO also mentioned that "he is not concerned that customers will defect to free Internet radio rivals," according to Reuters, even after SiriusXM raises prices at the beginning of 2012.

You can find more on the story from Reuters here and here.

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