MOG

GigaOm gets a view of how Beats instructs human curators to program playlists for new service

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 1:10pm

Music subscription services have lately shown a greater understanding of the power and need for musical "gatekeepers" or curators to help users parse the oceans of music to discover that which they're likely to enjoy (just lately, see Spotify Browse  and Rdio Stations). In radio, of course, these wise sherpas have been called "programmers."

Beats Music (more in RAIN here) has stated that effective curation is its guiding principle as it rebuilds the Mog service (we've covered this here).

GigaOm got access to some Beats Music "internal guidance" for the musicians and freelancers who are creating playlists for the new service. These programmers are working with a web authoring system to sample songs and build playlists that Beats Music editors request (apparently focused on artists, genres, years, and listener activity -- and less than 70 minutes long).

"Beats Music definitely doesn’t want to sound like college radio. It wants human curation, but no strong DJ characters, with the exception of those well-known musicians asked to participate," writes Janko Roettgers for GigaOm. "Freelancers are told to 'beware of personal whims' and 'avoid overly clever transitions.' Oh, and 'talking down to listeners' isn’t desired, either. Record store clerks apparently don’t need to apply."

Read GigaOm here.

Powered by The Echo Nest, new Rdio Stations includes automatically generated customized You FM

Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 12:25pm

On-demand music service Rdio is making a big push towards delivering music in a personalized radio style, with its "new and improved" Stations feature.

Many have made the case that while a true on-demand, "pull" service allows listeners maximum flexibility (you simply choose whatever you want to hear), a more "radio-style" presentation makes for an easier "lean back" listening experience, and can introduce a listener to new music relevant to their tastes, couched within familiar favorites. As on-demand music services have evolved their offerings in the past few years, we've seen them paying more attention to improving their radio-style services

Rdio's new Stations is powered by data from The Echo Nest, which also announced the new service in its blog.

One cool feature is called "You FM." It's a custom stream based on an Rdio user's listening history, song ratings, Facebook likes, Twitter follows -- which is constantly updated as this data changes. It can also be manually customized. Similarly, "Friend FM" uses a listener's Rdio friend's tastes to generate a streaming music stations.

Rdio Stations also offers more than 400 of the traditional genre- (and what it calls "sub-genre") radio stations. Users can also generate stations based on a favorite artist of song (in the Pandora vein). Finally, if a listener chooses to listen to something "on-demand" (say, a full album), the "AutoPlay" radio function will continue to play music similar to the choosen piece after that piece is complete (competitor MOG can do this as well).

All Rdio stations allow users to skip songs, and replay songs as well (this is an on-demand subscription service, after all). But they allow further customization by way of a five-position setting that ranges from "Popular" (well-known songs) to "Adventurous" (deeper cuts). Finally, Rdio is using a "full-screen" takeover for the player, with a very simplified control icons in favor of huge, colorful CD cover images.

In a blog entry, The Echo Nest explains how its data helps power the new Rdio Stations. "We've spent over a decade researching and developing ways to understand Musical Identity. For each person, we develop an individual Taste Profile. To build You FM and Friend FM, Rdio worked closely with The Echo Nest to extend each user’s Taste Profile across the entire world of music, creating a radio representation of your taste, or that of any of your friends."

The Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese will moderate a panel at the September 17th RAIN Summit Orlando. More details soon.

Read more from The Echo Nest here; more on Rdio's Stations in Engadget here.

CNet: With music services so reliant on mobile, bundling makes sense

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 - 12:20pm

A CNet report says Beats Electronics is negotiating with AT&T to launch its music-streaming service Daisy bundled with mobile data plans.

The goal for Beats would be to build up a large audience in a very short time -- in a sense, to "catch up" on competitors like Spotify and Google. Key for AT&T is Beats' "well-established brand," says CNet. AT&T might see it as a worthy partner to drive phone and data sales plans.

Beats owns the online streaming service MOG now. The company says they'll differentiate their new service by making it more focused on "curation," that is, programming designed by musical experts.

CNet writes, "With mobile at the center of all music offerings now, partnering with a big carrier makes good sense. There is also precedent for successful tie-ins, although no big examples in the United States. Spotify, for instance, captured a huge chunk of the Swedish population when, in 2009, it tied up with telco Telia -- an example that music label execs point to as showing the potential of bundling with wireless carriers."

Read more in CNet here.

Beats chief Iovine says he was pushing Steve Jobs for an Apple streaming service

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 12:25pm

Beats Electronics CEO (and Universal Music exec and record industry legend) Jimmy Iovine thinks that when it comes to creating a music service that fans will embrace, the tech guys don't stand a chance.

"I was shocked at how culturally inept most consumer electronics companies are... You can build Facebook, you can build YouTube, you can build Twitter — you can be a tech company and do that," he told AllThingsDigital's Peter Kafka at CES. "Subscription [music] needs a programmer. It needs culture. And tech guys can’t do that. They don’t even know who to hire. They’re utilities."

Obviously, Iovine has faith that his company, with "guys who know music and culture" like himself, Dr. Dre, and Trent Reznor at the helm, is far more suited to creating the killer streaming music experience.

"[Other music subscription] companies, these services, all lack curation... There’s no curation. That’s what we did as a record label, we curated," he said. "We are heavy on curation, and we believe it’s a combination of human and math... Right now, somebody’s giving you 12 million songs, and you give them your credit card, and they tell you 'good luck.' You need to have some kind of help. I’m going to offer you a guide... a trusted voice, and it’s going to be really good."

Interestingly, Iovine says he'd long been trying to push the late Apple founder Steve Jobs towards creating a streaming music subscription service.

"He wasn’t keen on it right away. [Beats co-founder] Luke Wood and I spent about three years trying to talk him into it... He didn’t want to pay the record companies enough. He felt that they would come down, eventually... I think in the end Steve was feeling it, but the economics... he wanted to pay the labels [for subscriptions], but [the fees were] not going to be acceptable to them."

At CES, Iovine and his company named former Yahoo! Music and Topspin CEO Ian Rogers (RAIN coverage here) CEO of Beats' music subscription service, codenamed "Daisy" (which will likely be a repurposed MOG, which Beats owns). More on Daisy in RAIN here.

Read the AllThingsDigital interview with Beats' Iovine here.

New Beats exec is former Yahoo! Music chief

Friday, January 11, 2013 - 11:10am

Beats Electronics has named Ian Rogers as CEO of its new music project "Daisy." Rogers will also become part of the leadership of Beats-owned music subscription service MOG.

We reported on Beats' Daisy project in RAIN here.

Rogers has been CEO of Topspin Media (a tech provider of retail and marketing software for musicians and other content creators) since 2008, after a stint as general manger of Yahoo! Music (including, at the time, Yahoo's online radio service).

Billboard reports, "Daisy... is Beats' revamping of the former MOG service, which Beats acquired last year. The service is set to launch in late 2013 as a stand-alone company under the Beats Electronics umbrella." Daisy's chief creative officer is Nine Inch Nails founder Trent Reznor.

Read more in Billboard here. and in AllThingsDigital here.

Fortune magazine features "massive music brain" The Echo Nest

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 10:10am

We've written about The Echo Nest before (here), and company executives have spoken at RAIN Summit events in the past. Fortune has published a profile of the company that offers a simple explanation of how The Echo Nest assembles what it calls "The Knowledge" -- its collection of data points on millions of songs that it licenses to leading online music services like Spotify, iHeartRadio, MOG, and Vevo.

The article suggests The Echo Nest's stance towards "openness" (it hosts "music-app 'hack days'" and gives "developers free access to its technology for noncommercial experimentation") "is making it the 'mothership' for entrepreneurs looking to 'create new musical experiences,' explains David McKinney, a coder in Australia whose experiments led to the creation of an investor-backed startup called Discovr."

Read the Fortune article here.

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