Silicon Valley

Tech-related hires at CBS Radio, NPR, and SoundExchange

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - 11:05am

CBS Radio has brought on Neil Salvage to helm its digital sales. Salvage will be responsible for national and local digital assets sales -- websites, mobile, and streaming. He'll report to CBS Radio President of Sales Michael Weiss (coverage in Radio World here).

Meanwhile, NPR has created a Silicon Valley-based technology correspondent position, and brought on journalist Steve Henn for the role. He'll report on how technology affects the lives of citizens and consumers, and cover startups, venture capitalists and the entrepreneurial culture of Silicon Valley, NPR said. He's currently the technology and innovation reporter for American Public Media's "Marketplace." More here.

SoundExchange

SoundExchange has appointed Scott Day as CTO. He most recently served as CTO for financial services and media company The Motley Fool. Jonathan Bender was recently named COO. SoundExchange is the recording industry agency that administers royalties for digital uses of copyright sound recordings (e.g. webcasting). There's more here.

While prohibitive licensing keeps Europe off-limits for most U.S. webcasters, it's a different story for on-demand start-ups

Monday, November 21, 2011 - 1:05pm

Former Live365 exec Rags Gupta suggests the reason we see on-demand music services starting-up in Europe (and not, say, Silicon Valley) is that it's simply easier to license the content there than in the U.S. As such, "investors in Europe aren’t as jaded when it comes to music startups as their U.S. counterparts," writes Gupta. "Index Ventures stands out in this regard. Bolstered by their success with Last.fm, they’ve added Songkick, SoundCloud, and RJDJ to their portfolio in recent years."

This apparent hospitality towards on-demand start-ups doesn't translate to Internet radio, unfortunately. Fragmented licensing regimes from country to country make it a virtually impossibly expensive and complex matter to license music separately for every country. This means many U.S. webcasters (e.g. Pandora) simply don't make their streams accessible outside the United States. 

Last.fm (purchased by CBS for $280 million) and Spotify (now with more than 2 million paying customers across the 8 countries in which it's available) are two obvious examples of music start-ups coming out of Europe. Another is French-based Deezer.

"The minute that I tell the major music labels that I am not interested in signing for rights to the U.S., the negotiations over terms become much, much easier," Deezer CEO Axel Dauchez recently told Reuters. The company apparently has no plans to launch in the United States. 

Read Gupta's piece in GigaOm here.

Tech expert illustrates big upswing coming for mobile and audio technologies

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 9:00am

Internet venture capitalist Mary Meeker recently highlighted some interesting trends, and made a prediction or two, that should be of special interest to our industry.

Meeker Web 2.0 slide

Most importantly: she demonstrated how quickly the mobile Internet is growing worldwide, and she predicted that audio-based technologies represent "the next big thing."

Meeker is with the firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and spoke at the recent Web 2.0 conference in Silicon Valley. She covered a lot of interesting information in her presentation, which we recommend you watch here. Here are just a few of the pertinent trends in mobile:

Worldwide, there are nearly 1 billion 3G subscribers, and that's only 17% of mobile subscribers (so there's lots of room for wireless Internet growth). More people worldwide have cellular/mobile access than are connected to the electrical grid. Smartphones now outship feature phones in the U.S. and Western Europe. Smartphones and tablets outshipped PCs (notebooks and desktops) in the fourth quarter of 2010. And the Windows operating system installation base on Intenet-enabled devices fell below the 50% mark in the second quarter of 2010.

Meeker Web 2.0 slide"When people look back at this era we're living in now, in 10, 20, 30 or 50 years, they will say this is the time when people got empowered with mobile Internet-connected devices," she said. [The slide on the right shows the adoption rate of 4 different technologies in the U.S. over time, plotted as a percentage of the population using each technology. The blue line is AM radio, the gold is television, the red is Internet, and the green is mobile Internet. The pink vertical bands represent times of economic recessions.]    

Meeker revealed she and her company think audio will likely be an important content driver for wireless mobile (she pointed to the fact that 60% of Pandora users access its content on mobile, a higher percentage than Facebook or Twitter). "We think the next big thing is the big things on the sides of your head -- those would be your ears." She pointed to the existence of four billion Bluetooth enabled devices in the market, and the quickly improving quality of headsets, wireless speaker systems, car audio connectivity, and sound "creation and sharing" platforms. Three of four companies she spotlighted for successfully introducing services in one market then widely expanding are audio-related (Shazam, Spotify, and Soundcloud).

Finally, she sees an upside for revenue in all of this in the form of shifting ad dollars. Comparing the amount of time consumers spend with various media to the amount of money advertisers spend on those media, Meeker says "it's way 'out of whack' for both Internet and mobile... a $20 billion opportunity in the U.S. if the revenue equals the time spent."

Jennifer Lane's Audio4cast and the San Jose Mercury News both have very good coverage of Meeker's presentation.

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