Nielsen buying Arbitron, also creating Twitter TV rating. Taylor asks, "How about for radio?"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 1:30pm

Nielsen and Twitter have forged a deal to create the "Nielsen Twitter TV ratings" to measure the total audience for social TV activity on the social media platform. Couple that with today's news that Nielsen is buying radio ratings leader Arbitron, and smart folks like Tom Taylor begin to ask, "Can radio be far behind?"

There's no real indication of such a development yet, but it's not hard to imageine that "a new radio morning show could be 'trending,' one of these days," suggests Taylor. Read more from him today here.

Read about Twitter TV ratings at LostRemote here and GigaOm here.

Academic's math shows Pandora pays sound recording royalty at 10 times the rate of UK radio

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 12:10pm

We've heard (at the recent House Subcommittee hearing on the Internet Radio Fairness Act for one, but elsewhere too, and often) the recording industry:

  • doesn't like the amount of royalties streaming services pay to play copyright recordings, and wants more;
  • really doesn't like that U.S. broadcasters don't pay at all; but should, like the good folks of the non-U.S. broadcast world.

So, how much does, say, a UK radio broadcaster pay to play a copyright sound recording per listener, and how does that compare to other services, like Spotify or Pandora?

Enter David Touve (you may remember him as the Washington and Lee University Assistant Professor of Business Administration who estimated that U.S. broadcasters would owe the recording industry $2.5 billion a year if they were required to pay at the webcasting rate here).

Using data from PPL (which collects royalties from UK radio) and RAJAR (which measures listening), and estimating 12 songs per hour, Touve estimates "the value of a single radio play to a single listener in the UK for only that portion of the royalties that are paid to record labels, featured artists, and performing artists" is £0.000073, or $0.00012.

"For comparison, I believe the value estimated above is 1/36th the rate reported by Zoe Keating ($0.0042) [Touve's referring to this] for her receipts from streaming music services (e.g., Spotify), 1/10th the rate ($0.0011) paid by Pureplay Webcasters in the U.S. (e.g., Pandora), and 1/18th the CRB-established default Webcaster rate ($0.0021) in the U.S."

Put another way: Pandora currently -- under the settlement "discount" rate -- pays at a rate ten times what UK radio pays to perform sound recordings.

(The difference in audience size between Pandora and the broadcast industry of a country like the UK, much less the U.S., naturally means the recording industry's take from broadcasters will be much larger. But what Touve is putting in high relief is the discrepancy between the rates.)

Read Touve's latest Rockonomics blog entry here.

Pandodaily columnist wants music, not more "features"

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 12:10pm

Pandodaily's Erin Griffith has some food for thought for digital music startups: Hold the bells and whistles, and just start forking over the music.

(She opens her column be reviewing the discussion of how expensive and complex music royalties make it onerous for digital music start-ups (in RAIN here), but her ideas that follow aren't really related to that discussion.)

Griffith reminds us of the concept of "FNAC" -- that is, "Feature, Not a Company."

"If its pitch is something like, 'Spotify is great, but don’t you wish you could (fill in blank with one missing feature)? That’s what StartupX does,'" she writes, "it’s probably a FNAC."

In other words, the only real differentiator many (potentially-failed) music start-ups have is in the presentation of music -- the "features."

But "the last thing listeners want in a music streaming service is more features. Typically when a user opens a music application, he or she wants to listen to something right now, not to browse for 15 minutes discovering new artists," she argues.

Who's "keepin' it simple?" The revamped Songza. The "streamlined" update to Spotify. And "If you think about it, traditional radio is the simplest of all... when I get into the car, I almost always listen to radio. I even have my phone out for navigation, but it’s just not worth the trouble of booting up an app," she says. "That could change if I ever upgrade to a fancier car with built-in apps. But the point is that simplicity — with as few options and features as possible — will always win."

Read Griffith's column in Pandodaily here.

62% of Millennials, 50% of Gen-X say Net is their "main source of entertainment"

Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 1:25pm

New Scarborough research shows what the company calls "heavy" users of radio are significantly more likely to use the Internet as a source for entertainment than Americans who listen to less radio.

Fully 40% of adults qualify as "heavy" radio users (though not surprisingly, it's a little "top heavy": 36 million Boomers, 30 million Gen-Xers, and 19 million Millennials). In that group, 62% of Millennials (18-29) and half of Gen X (30-44) say the Internet is their main source of entertainment.

A third of Gen X has listened to Internet radio in the past month (nearly a quarter of Baby Boomers (45-64), and 40% of the youngest set -- see the chart).

Gary Meo, SVP/Print and Digital Media Services, presented the study called "Inside the Minds of Radio’s Heavy Listeners" yesterday, the opending day of the Arbitron 2012 Client Conference. Meo also talked about how vital social media is -- especially to the 18-29 demo. 

"The importance of social networking to Millennials cannot be overstated…it is their #1 activity online, by far," he said (as reported by Tom Taylor here). The research reveals 84% of Millennials regularly use the Internet for "social networking". It was also significant for a number of Gen Xers (75%) and even Boomers (56%).

Download Meo's slide deck from Scarborough here.

Survey indicates Pandora listening not taking away from time with AM/FM

Friday, November 30, 2012 - 1:00pm

Vision Critical's new research indicates Pandora listeners spend more time listening to broadcast radio than non-Pandora listeners. What's more, on average, Pandora listeners' say their time spent with AM/FM radio has held steady over the last two years.

The charts from the research summary show that while non-Pandora users in the U.S. report spending just under 13 hours a week listening to broadcast, the average Pandora user tops 19 hours a week with terrestrial radio -- 50% more than the non-Pandora fan. The second chart shows that even over time, the average Pandora user reports spending slightly more time with AM/FM now than 2 years ago (or at least, is not spending significantly less time with AM/FM).

It's probably not controversial to say the typical Pandora listener is more comfortable with technology than the average person. So, perhaps it's not surprising the survey revealed Pandora listeners as much more likely to listen to AM/FM on digital devices than non-Pandora listeners.

A recent NPD Group study (here) seemed to show Net radio usage is cutting into music listening on more traditional media -- including AM/FM. Note that the Vision Critical study didn't ask about the format of respondents' on-air listening (music, news, talk, sports, etc.).

Pandora listeners in another recent survey (conducted on the webcaster's behalf) strongly favored the service over AM/FM regarding which was more "unique and different," "innovative," "engaging," and "connects me withe the music I love" (study here). But Pandora listeners told Vision Critical AM/FM has the edge in "easy," "convenient," and "helps me feel connected."

Vancouver-based Vision Critical surveyed more than one-thousand U.S. adults for the Canadian Association of Radio Broadcasters, "to better understand the potential impact on Canadian radio tuning in the event that Pandora, or a service like it, is launched in Canada."

See the Vision Critical summary report, "What Pandora Means for Radio," here.

RAIN Analysis: Naturally, we wanted to follow up on this with Vision Critical SVP Jeff Vidler. After all, the results of this study seem counterintuitive in light of Arbitron reports showing radio listening per capita declining -- declines that seem to correspond Pandora's gains.

Vidler suggested three hypotheses:

1. Interest in music is not a "zero sum" game. Flash back 100+ years ago and the consensus was that recorded music would kill live music performance. Then, radio was going to kill the recorded music industry. Then, in-car 8-tracks/cassettes/CDs were going to kill radio. But today, music is bigger than ever. Each new technology and platform simply provides a new way and a new reason for music fans to indulge in music — it’s additive. So it would seem to be for Pandora.

2. The enduring lure of broadcast radio is connection, not music. Pandora listeners, like most other folks, want to feel connected to other people, to what’s going on in their community and elsewhere. Broadcast radio does a great job at that. And, as music fans, they also want to feel connected to the music that other people like. Broadcast radio performs well there too. (The recent success of CHR radio may be the best evidence of this.) So, on this basis, it’s not that surprising that they might be above-average listeners to broadcast radio.

3. Arbitron isn’t capturing the full gamut of online AM/FM tuning. Do PPM meter-keepers, who listen through their headphones on their PC at work, or on the app on their smartphone, always remember to plug in their headphone insert? The study indicates that Pandora listeners are way above-average in listening to AM/FM on digital platforms, so it’s possible that Arbitron may not be capturing all their listening."

All three hypotheses make sense. The third is particularly interesting -- maybe apparent losses in per-capita AM/FM listening in recent years are really just an artifact of increases in headphone-based listening! -- KH

This is real: New audio app features humans reading the news

Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 12:45pm

A company called SoThree, founded by three former Google engineers, has unveiled a new smartphone app for the 94 million or so in the U.S. who can't read a newspaper while driving to work. It's called Umano ("human" in Italian).

Umano's team chooses about 15 news stories a day from the web, which its team of voice actors reads and records (material that's "geeky (which is code for techy/gadget stuff), scientific, entrepreneurial, and inspirational," according to The company hopes to expand its coverage to 100 articles a day over the next six months.

Now, if the software could incorporate local weather, traffic, and sports, they might really be on to something novel!

PandoDaily's (pretty unironic) coverage is here.

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