radio

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.

Radio's denial of Pandora might end up costing them both when ad dollars "move on"

Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 1:25pm

Broadcast radio's squabbling over Pandora's attempts to assert itself as a major player for radio ad dollars has made it on to the pages of The Wall Street Journal. And one expert told the paper this split may end up costing both Pandora and traditional radio in the long run.

You'll recall (here) Arbitron this week issued a statement -- apparently at the behest of its broadcast radio customers -- critical of listening estimates for Internet radio services based on server log data, self-reported listener demographic info, and without a "detailed description of methodology" (like Arbitron's). Market research firm Edison Research has recently been issuing estimates of Pandora's listening with metrics identical to traditional broadcast radio studies (more here). Pandora founder Tim Westergren called Arbitron's statement part of a "concerted effort" to keep Pandora out of the radio ad market as the online radio medium grows into real competition for radio.

"The broadcast industry does not want the world to know about us, basically."

This week's Arbitron statement came as the company is trying to convince its broadcaster clients to support its upcoming Total Audience Measurement product (more here), designed to measure and consolidate on-air, online, and satellite listening.

Late yesterday came news that Clear Channel-owned online ad-sales firm Katz360 -- like Arbitron, a company the counts broadcast radio groups as its main clients -- dropped Pandora from their sales network (see today's top story). (Pandora is far-and-away the most-listened-to webcaster online, dwarfing the online audiences of broadcasters like Clear Channel, CBS Radio, and Cumulus.)

Marketers are making it clear, however, they want a more "all-in-one," cross-platform ratings system to better target their ad messages (see the second-half of this recent RAIN story). Matt Feinberg, a former radio ad-buyer, told the Journal, "There are so many media vehicles out there for consideration the harder you make it for an advertiser or agency to make a decision, the quicker they will move on."

Wall Street Journal subscribers can read their coverage here.

Digital will surpass radio during holidays for advertisers, says Strata survey

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 11:10am

Online advertising continues to growA new "flash survey" from Strata Systems predicts that Internet/digital will rank #2 this holiday season among for holiday-oriented advertisers. That displaces spot radio, which falls to #3. The top spot is claimed by spot broadcast and cable TV.

"That said," reports Media Daily News (here), "most respondents indicated the media planning process isn’t as much as an either/or option as it used to be, and that more of their clients are merging analogue and digital media into integrated holiday campaign strategies."

Radio sees ulterior motives in music industry's support for TV spectrum auction

Friday, November 18, 2011 - 12:00pm

Four music industry lobby groups sent a letter to the Congressional debt-reduction "supercommittee" yesterday, encouraging lawmakers to let the FCC auction television broacast spectrum wireless operators. The American Federation of Musicians, the Recording Academy, SoundExchange and the Music Managers Forum say the auctions could raise billions of dollars in revenue for deficit reduction, as well free up spectrum for wireless broadband devices. Broadcasters that own television licenses want to choose whether they relinquish this spectrum, and want to be fully compensated for doing so.SoundExchange

But why are music industry interests speaking up regarding television spectrum? The Hill's "Hillicon Valley" blog put it simply: "Broadcasters and the music industry have a long-running feud over whether artists should receive royalties when radio stations play their songs."

The music industry groups say they are interested to "hasten the migration of music fans to cutting edge (wireless broadband) platforms that compensate artists," by paying royalties they say are a "basic economic and civil right for musicians."

The groups wrote, "It would seem to us that the NAB is not entitled to spectrum owned by the public, or costs associated with relinquishing it, and the federal government reclaiming this spectrum for purposes of deficit reduction is the kind of shared sacrifice that is required in these difficult times."

The NAB doesn't buy it. Spokesman Dennis Wharton fired back, "By coupling a TV spectrum issue with an unrelated performance tax on radio stations, the music industry sets the standard for grasping at straws. This is a Hail Mary pass that deserves to fall incomplete."NAB

Inside Radio believes the letter is part of a new music industry "tactic: find ways to make it difficult for broadcasters to do business such as by opposing license renewals.  The request to the Super Committee fits into that strategy, and similar moves are in the works, according to insiders who say bad feelings among many in the music community linger."

What's more, Inside Radio sees implications for online radio too. "As online streaming royalties grow bigger with each passing year, (NAB president Gordon) Smith believes webcast rates are likely to become intertwined with an on-air royalty issue," they write today. "Broadcasters’ current streaming royalty agreement with SoundExchange expires in 2015 yet Smith thinks there could be a way to resolve both the on-air and digital royalty issues sooner than that, potentially with something similar to a universal settlement. But with some broadcasters more digitally invested than others, radio’s internal royalty debate may once again break down between large and small market operators. Smith said he was optimistic that won’t happen, suggesting any new proposal would include an even more 'progressive system' where size dictates costs."

 
Read more from The Hill here. Subscribe to Inside Radio here.

Promotion an endorsement of Pittman's digital initiatives, says company

Monday, October 3, 2011 - 11:00am

Bob Pittman, new CEO of Clear Channel Media Holdings

Bob Pittman has been named CEO of CC Media Holdings -- Clear Channel's parent company -- effective immediately. The company told RAIN the appointment is an endorsement of Pittman's digital initiatives, including building out web radio platform iHeartRadio.

"He has already generated a renewed sense of confidence and direction not only at Clear Channel, but across the entire radio and media landscape,” said Scott Sperling, co-president of THL Partners.

Pittman joined Clear Channel in November 2010 as an investor and Chairman of Media and Entertainment Platforms (RAIN coverage here). Since then Clear Channel has relaunched iHeartRadio as a customizable web radio service (powered in part by the acquisition of Thumbplay in March, more here). That new service will soon join Pandora on Ford and Toyota dashboards (more here and here).

Pittman, 57, has served as CEO of AOL Networks and was co-founder and CEO of MTV.

As CEO of CC Media Holdings, Pittman will oversee Clear Channel Radio and Outdoor Holdings. He takes over from Mark Mays, who announced over a year ago he would step down (but remain chairman of CC Media Holdings). The L.A. Times reports (here) Pittman is "the first head of Clear Channel...not from the founding Mays family."

You can find Clear Channel's press release here.

Guest essay by Michael Robertson: "The Smart Phone Killed the Car Radio"

Friday, September 30, 2011 - 11:00pm

Today RAIN brings you a guest essay from respected entrepreneur Michael Robertson. He founded MP3.com, in 2005 launched MP3tunes and most recently built DAR.fm -- a TiVo-like device for recording radio programs online.

Michael RobertsonIn 1997 I drove a beat up Honda up to LA to meet with the major record labels. I wanted to show them the PC would become the center of people's music life thanks to the new found capabilities MP3 brought. Music fans could warehouse massive music libraries, organize their music, make custom playlists, burn CDs and share that music experience with others. Those I met with scoffed at the notion that the home stereo would be replaced by the PC remarking that "most PCs don't even have speakers!" The major labels could only see the computer as a word-processor. But, I knew that the PC would displace the home stereo and become the music hub.

I have the same feeling today about the car radio getting stream rolled by the smart phone. Today's smart phone has a virtually unlimited audio catalog thanks to the net. Much of the content is interactive (meaning users can rewind, fast forward and skip ahead 30 sec). Many in the radio industry scoff at the notion of the phone replacing the ubiquitous AM/FM car radio. They say that users don't want/need a big library of programming - just the morning DJ / sports talker / political commentator that happens to be offered in their town. If that were true, why wouldn't listeners want those same shows in the afternoon for their drive home? The radio industry sees the ability to rewind/fast forward as unnecessary. They think that radio fans are passive robots who are content to just sit and listen. But, every indication I see in magazines, on TV, Twitter, blogs, etc. tells me that users want control.

DAR.fm now allows everyone to record AM/FM radio and have it automatically downloaded to any smart phone or tablet. I've put together some videos which show how to automatically sync radio shows to an iPad, iPhone, Android, or a PC to use with other mobile devices. (iPad/iPhone users click here) Whenever I jump into my car or travel, my phone already has a few episodes of my favorite radio shows ready for me to listen to. This YouTube video shows how I mount my smart phone and plug it into my car's stereo system.

My smart phone has already made my car radio obsolete because I rarely listen to broadcast radio. I'm not alone. More than half of adults 18-24 have used a portable MP3 player or phone for audio in their car. 41% are interested in rewinding, fast forward and pause (and I think the rest don't even know it's now possible and they'll want it to once they experience it). Radio purists dismiss smart phones as a threat to the AM/FM radio, but there was a day when every house had a home stereo too.

-- MR (originally posted at michaelrobertson)

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