Google Play Music All Access beats Apple streaming radio product to market

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 11:55am

As expected, Google formally announced its new online music subscription service, Google Play Music All Access today at its Google I/O developer conference.

The company is touting the service as "radio without rules," according to The Verge. It reports the All Access service "allows users to create radio stations from particular artists — providing comparable functionality without any of the limitations," but went into no further detail. One might assume the "functionality" is "comparable" to Pandora and other such services, but "without any of the limitations" of the statutory webcast license, which prohibits on-demand song plays, going backwards in a stream to re-hear a song, etc. (We delved a little further into these matters yesterday here.) 

By and large, it's music subscription of the Spotify/Rdio sort: $9.99/month unlimited on-demand access and playlist features, for computers and Android devices. Listeners can access both "local" music (which they have stored on their computer or handheld) as well as Google's streaming-available collection, as a single "master library." The service includes a "recommendation engine" to help listeners discover new music based on their preferences. Google is offering a 30-day free trial, and if you sign up by the end of June, it's just $7.99/month.

Read more from The Verge here.

Atom Factory CEO's vision for radio disruption is here: Internet radio in the car

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 12:50pm

Troy Carter is founder and chairman/CEO of entertainment management company Atom Factory -- he's Lady Gaga's manager. He says when he thinks of music industry segments ripe for some tech-driven disruption, he thinks of AM/FM radio. He spoke yesterday at this week's Disrupt NY 2013 conference.

When asked "what holes a technology start-up could fill" that would benefit working musicians, Carter said "Figuring out terrestrial radio, particularly in America."

"I think the opening right is figuring out terrestrial radio, that's the one space that Sirius could have done it with subscription radio, but you look at Clear Channel and CBS, it’s not what people want," he said. "People just get in a car and turn on a local station. It’s going to be interesting when you get in your car and you’re listening to a 17-year-old kid in Russia."

Which, to us, sounds a lot like Internet-delivered radio -- which can be delivered to your car today!

Reporting on Carter's remarks, TechCrunch suggests it's a company like Slacker as "the type of product that could play a role."

TechCrunch's coverage of Carter's remarks, with video, is here.

AOL Radio will reportedly survive AOL Music closing

Monday, April 29, 2013 - 12:00pm

Word began to leak on Friday afternoon -- via former employees on Twitter -- that AOL Music has shut down.

AOL Music's rock news property Spinner (itself an early pioneer in online radio) will reportedly continue to operate AOL Radio channels. Spinner editor Dan Reilly first began to tweet about staff layoffs early Friday afternoon. AOL Radio program director Thomas Chau later tweeted to clarify that AOL Radio would not be part of the closings.

At one time AOL Radio music streams were featured on CBS Radio's platform. In October of 2011, AOL Radio channels instead became available within Slacker's interface (see RAIN here).

AllThingsDigital reminds us of "Microsoft’s (2006) shuttering of MSN Music, while Yahoo closed the doors on its Yahoo Music services in 2008, as well as shutting down its MusicMatch service the year prior (just three years after acquiring it in 2004 for $160 million)."

Read more from AllThingsDigital here and Mashable here.

Grooveshark's new survival ploy: licensed online radio, programmed by listeners

Monday, April 22, 2013 - 1:10pm

Embattled online music service Grooveshark today unveiled a new service it simply calls "Broadcast": converting playlists into user-generated online radio.

Grooveshark is currently being sued by all four major record companies for copyright infringement, and its mobile apps were banned from both the Apple and Google Play stores. Yet, Grooveshark still attracts 3 million monthly users, and adds another 200,000 new users each month, according to coverage in Mashable.

The new Broadcast feature "lets users transform a playlist into a live broadcast with the click of a button," Mashable writes. "The DJ can select songs, record 30-second audio interludes and see real-time listening stats; listeners can engage with one another and offer feedback and song suggestions to the DJ through a live chat feature on the side." This is very reminiscent of licensed services from companies like Live365 and Radionomy. Grooveshark says it is negotiating licenses for the service with record labels.

Read Mashable's coverage here.

Rumored summer launch for Apple's own streaming radio service

Friday, April 5, 2013 - 11:50pm

New reporting from CNet is possibly giving some shape to Apple's much-anticipated streaming music service.

All of these details are sourced from the ever-insightful "people familiar with the negotiations," so none are official. But according to what CNet has heard, Apple is close to settling with Warner Music and Universal Music groups (not yet Sony, nor publishers) for a summer U.S. launch of a non-interactive (like Pandora, not like Spotify) streaming service.

Allegedly Apple will pay royalties less than the statutory rate, and just half what Pandora pays. But to sweeten the deal, Apple will share ad revenue -- possibly as much as 35%-45% -- from a new class of audio ads (not simply the small iAds displays). And Apple is supposedly "proposing to the labels... a full-on, multinational sales force that would sell audio ads akin to what Pandora serves up for listeners to its free service." Apple also hopes to launch the service in the UK, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan (Pandora is legally available only in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand).

Read more from CNet here.

RAIN ANALYSIS: We'd like to know much more about (a) features that will make Apple's service unique in the marketplace (the CNet article mentions features like "going back to the beginning of the song" and "making it easier to purchase music," which sound mildly interesting, but aren't really anything to hang a service's hat on; and (b) how the music will be "programmed" (i.e. human curation, internal iTunes data, third-party data). An automated, curated radio service based on iTunes data would be something genuinely new in the marketplace, which is currently dominated by only Pandora's Music Genome and services that use The Echo Nest. But would it be noticeably different from a user's perspective? -- MS

UK songwriters now earn more from digital players than from b'dcast radio

Thursday, April 4, 2013 - 12:30pm

An article in the UK's The Guardian reveals British songwriters earned a record £51.7m in UK royalties from digital music services in 2012 -- more than their take from broadcast radio.

"Digital music players are now the biggest single source of income for songwriters in the UK, having overtaken radio last year after previously eclipsing live events and pubs, according to the UK royalties body PRS for Music," wrote the paper.

Read the full article in The Guardian here.

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