online radio

Free Last.fm online radio to be limited to U.S., UK, and Germany - and only on its website

Thursday, December 13, 2012 - 3:15pm

CBS Interactive-owned music service Last.fm has announced it will shut down its online radio service in all but eight countries, "due to licensing restrictions."

While U.S., UK, and German listeners will still be able to use the Last.fm radio service free via the website, radio via the Last.fm desktop application in those nations will become solely a subscription-based service (ad-supported free radio via apps had been available to users in those countries). Mobile access to Last.fm radio (since April 2011) has been subscription-only, and will remain so.

Elsewhere in the world, Last.fm's radio service has been subscription-only since 2009. It will remain so for Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Brazil. But elsewhere, Last.fm online radio will entirely cease on January 15.

The cost of licensing copyright sound recordings has always been, and continues to be, inhibitive to online music companies in the U.S. and elsewhere.

2012 marked the tenth anniversary of Last.fm's founding. It was purchased by CBS in 2007, and remains based in England.

Last.fm also announced an upcoming revamped desktop client.

Last.fm features a music recommender system called "Audioscrobbler," which compiles details of users' music habits ("scrobbling") -- on Internet radio stations, local files, or portable devices -- and builds a detailed profile of each user's musical tastes. It's this database that powers Last.fm's music recommendation capability.

Read the Last.fm announcement here.

Apple deal with labels might include sharing ad revenue, inventory for relaxed restrictions in how it uses music

Friday, October 26, 2012 - 1:35pm

Bloomberg News reported late yesterday that Apple's rumored negotiations with record labels (first reported in RAIN here) "have intensified," and that negotiators could reach a settlement by the middle of next month. That would pave the way for Apple's own ad-supported Internet radio service to launch in early 2013.

Early last month, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal broke the story that Apple had been in talks with major record labels for its own webcast service. Following the publication of the Bloomberg story, Pandora's stock price fell 12%, to an all-time low of $7.97 this morning, valuing the company at about $1.3 billion.

The negotiations reportedly involve record labels getting a share of advertising revenues and inventory. "In addition to an upfront fee, record companies are seeking a percentage of ad sales and the ability to insert their own commercials for artists," Bloomberg reports.

In exchange for sharing ad income and space, Apple would presumably be allowed to stream music without the same constraints with which other webcasters do (the technical term for these constraints is the "sound performance complement" of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act). Apple "wants listeners to be able to buy tracks as music streams or revisit what they’ve heard in auto-generated playlists."

"If Apple offers a radio product, it will be far superior to anything else on the market," Rich Greenfield, a New York analyst with BTIG, told Bloomberg. "They’re seeking direct licenses to avoid all the restrictions that come with a compulsory license." 

The story also reported that Apple's Internet radio service would be mobile-focused, "tailored for its iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch" devices. In other words, if sources are correct, the service won’t be focused on delivering music through a Web browser.

Bloomberg attributes all of these details to "people with knowledge of the talks."

Read Bloomberg News here.

Leykis' Pure Pop Hits stream to launch 50-thousand song commercial-free marathon

Monday, July 30, 2012 - 12:55pm

Tom Leykis today pledged his online Top-40 Pure Pop Hits will play 50-thousand songs back-to-back without commercials beginning today at 2pm CT (3pm ET/Noon PT).

Similarly, in July 2010 Leykis launched his indie pop stream New Normal Music by playing 50,000 songs in a row, all less than a year-old (RAIN coverage here). Leykis's NewNormalNetwork also produces or presents active rock New Normal Rock, oldies Great Big Radio, and podcasts like his own high-end cocktails-focused "The Tasting Room." 

In April Leykis returned to the microphone with a daily online show. His last on-air gig ended in February 2009, when KLSX-FM/Los Angeles owner CBS Radio changed the format to top-40 (RAIN coverage).

"50,000 in a row means that we won't play a single commercial for the rest of 2012," said Leykis. "Next time you're listening to hit music, ask yourself why you tolerate the constant commercials, phony rose giveaways and hokey DJs of your local top-40 radio station."

Read the press release here.

 

Krasiniski leaves Arbitron; LDR adds N/T vet Hobbs; Pandora names Shapiro for political ads

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 11:00am

Arbitron SVP/Digital Media & Analytics Paul Krasinski has announced his exit from the company, and he's reportedly "headed for a social media company." In January 2011, Krasinski (right), then COO at Ando Media, joined Arbitron to lead the company's digital development. Arbitron is planning a return to online radio metrics with the launch of its "Total Audience Measurement" system.

Meanwhile, Listener Driven Radio has named Gabe Hobbs Strategic Advisor. Hobbs has more than 20 years experience in news, talk, and sports programming (1998-2008 he ran Clear Channel’s 275 news, talk, and sports stations). Listener Driven Radio recently launched its "Topic Pulse" service, which scans all available news sources, local blogs, Facebook posts, Tweets, and other social media so producers and talent can monitor topics and stories "getting buzz" in a market.

Finally, Pandora has named Rena Shapiro as Director of Political Advertising Sales. Shapiro (left), who was director/political and issue advocacy accounts at AOL, also helped create Google's political ad business. Last fall Pandora unveiled a new targeted ad product for political candidates and special interest groups, which targets listeners based on ZIP Code.

Radioplayer a testament to cooperation, fairness, and product-focus, says The Telegraph

Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 11:40am

You many know Radioplayer (see RAIN coverage here) is the online aggregate of radio in Britain, 315 streaming audio channels and on-demand content. It's a not-for-profit cooperative co-owned by the BBC and (most of) the UK's commercial radio industry, launched one year ago this month.

Today Radioplayer boasts seven million monthly unique users. And it represents a victory in successfully transitioning traditional media to an online platform, compared to television in the UK, says Emma Barnett, The Telegraph's Digital Media Editor.

"Where British TV companies have failed... the radio industry has genuinely managed to build a successful aggregator through clever cooperation and by focusing on the product, rather than the potential new revenue streams," she wrote. "British TV content crucially still doesn’t have a single web player."

Each participating station is given equal prominence in the player, and each displays their own advertising and content. And there is total autonomy for each contributing station. Radioplayer managing director Michael Hill credits the platform's success to "its fairness, openness and its not-for-profit status."

Radioplayer also generates revenue (which goes back into developing and improving the player) by licensing its technology. Two such improvements are the coming mobile app and an app for Internet connected television systems (more here).

Read coverage from The Telegraph here.

 

USC Annenberg study shows listening to radio as common an online activity as paying bills

Friday, December 16, 2011 - 12:05pm

You may have seen news coverage yesterday of the highlights from ten years of research on Americans' use and attitudes towards the Internet and new technology. The studies were done by the Annenberg School for Communication's Center for the Digital Future, at USC.

While most news sources focused on the report's dire predictions for print media ("Most print newspapers will be gone in five years"), kudos to Inside Radio for digging a little deeper for this tidbit: 22% of study respondents report "going on the Internet at least weekly" to "listen to online radio."Slacker on an iPad

[That data point is actually not from the recently-released highlights of the studies' findings over the last ten years; rather, it's from the 2010 Digital Future Report -- the tenth annual study in the series -- which was released in June.]

While that figure was outranked by online activities like general web-browsing, online banking, social networking, and gaming -- it's interesting that 22% is also the share of respondents who pay bills online. Also keep in mind that the "to listen to online radio" response was distinct from the "to download or listen to music" response (38%).

Here's another point the Annenberg summary made that should be of interest to broadcasters and webcasters: Over the next three years the tablet computer (e.g. Apple iPad) will become consumers' primary tool for most online/computing activities. Use of the trusty desktop will drop to 4-6% (laptops too!). "For the vast majority of Americans, the tablet will be the computer tool of choice by the middle of the decade, while the desktop PC fades away," the research summary reads. Food for thought.

Read Annenberg's highlights and predictions from their ten years of study here. Read highlights from the 2010 Digital Future Report (that has the online radio figure Inside Radio reported) here.

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