Spotify adds four countries to its international portfolio

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 12:10pm

As jubilantly announced on its public blog (“Hello Argentina, Taiwan, Greece and Turkey -- Spotify here!”), the interactive streamer has expanded its reach. With the addition of those four, Spotify now distributes its desktop and mobile app experiences in 32 countries. The deal is standard Spotify: free, ad-supported desktop listening, a subscription tier to eliminate the ads, and a higher sub plan for mobile streaming and downloading.

Here are the international ranges of other music listening platforms:

  • iTunes Radio: U.S. only Xbox Music: 22 countries (free streaming available in 15)
  • Google All Access: 11 countries (U.S., Australia, added nine European countries in August)
  • TuneIn Radio: 80 countries and territories (see here)
  • iHeartRadio: U.S. only
  • Pandora: three countries (U.S., New Zealand, Australia)
  • Rdio: 31 countries
  • Rhapsody: 17 countries (some non-U.S. apps are branded as Rhapsody-owned Napster)
  • Slacker: U.S. and Canada
  • Songza: U.S. and Canada

As a counterpoint to the relentless regional agnosticism of internet radio (notwithstanding streaming broadcasts featured on TuneIn and iHeart), you might want to read remarks delivered by FTC Commissioner Ajit Pai (PDF) at last week's Radio Show luncheon. In his speech, Commissioner Pai held forth on the value of localism, before discussing revitalization of the AM band. 

Webcast industry awaits impact of Net radio's most-anticipated launch ever

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 12:40pm

Is today the day it all changes? At some point today, Apple will release iOS 7, and with it, the most anticipated service in the history of Internet radio: iTunes Radio. And it's quite possible that the entire competitive landscape of Net radio shifts dramatically.

Leading webcasters Pandora and Slacker are doing their best to steal some of Apple's thunder today -- with updates for their services on Apple products. Pandora chose today to not only unveil redesigned company logos (left), it's speaking directly to Apple's audience with a new version of its app for Apple's iPad. The webcaster call it the "biggest redesign of the tablet app since launching on the platform when the device was first introduced in April 2010." Huffington Post covers the app and logo update here, with some nice images.

Slacker too has something for the Apple crowd, an "all-new" mobile app for iOS 7 (lower right), with what it calls the "My Vibe" feature. "My Vibe" offers human-programmed playlists for various activities (think Songza's Music Concierge or iHeartRadio's "Perfect For") like working out, studying, and driving. Venture Beat has the coverage here, along with lots of screenshots.

As impressive as these mobile app updates may be, it's hard to imagine focus being anyone but on Apple today. But how big a splash will it make, with listeners?

We have no information as to whether iTunes Radio listening will be measured by Triton Digital's Webcast Metrics (as are dozens of other leading webcasters like Pandora, Slacker, Clear Channel/iHeartRadio, CBS Radio/, and more). Nor do we know if Apple will publish their own listening metrics, as Pandora does monthly. So it might be tough for others in the industry to gauge exactly the new service's impact with consumers.

Certainly advertisers respect the reach of Apple, and are betting big that consumers will be there. As we've reported, major brands like Pepsi, Macy's, McDonald's, Nissan, and Procter & Gamble have paid as much as $10 million to be category-exclusive iTunes Radio launch partner advertisers. AdAge reports here.

Writing in Fast Company here, commentator John Paul Titlow says that while the service is a great strategic move for Apple -- to reinforce music-purchasing behavior in a market that's clearly moving towards "music as a service" on-demand consumption -- "for users, the benefits of iTunes Radio are less apparent, especially those familiar with Pandora." Pandora's 13-year head start on refining its music recommendation, he reasons, is a significant hurdle for any service looking to best it on its merits.

That said, Kevin Tofel at GigaOm says he's enjoying iTunes Radio, at least when compared to Google Play Music All Access (which recently introducing genre-based online radio). He writes (here): "I’m shocked that iTunes Radio is offering what I think is more music that I enjoy than Google... I find that with Google All Access, I’m spending more time tuning the stations to my likes and dislikes of each song. For iTunes Radio I might have disliked two or three songs over the past week."

We'll certainly follow up with more coverage of today's launch of Apple's iTunes Radio.

"The Race to the Dashboard" among five important industry topics Summit panels will cover Sept. 17

Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 10:40am

Steve Cotter is in his seventh years as SVP of sales and business development at webcaster Slacker, where he oversees distribution efforts that include partnerships with automotive manufacturers. Steve (right) will speak on the RAIN Summit Orlando panel called "The Race to the Dashboard," September 17.

Presented by Triton Digital, "The Race to the Dashboard" will be a discussion on strategies for audio content providers to claim a spot in the "connected dashboards" that will soon be in nearly every car on the road. It's one of five panels scheduled for RAIN Summit Orlando.

(By the way, the Summit will also feature a discussion on whether broadcasters should "simulcast" online in order to combine digital and AM/FM audiences, or if they should sell digital-only inventory. Triton Digital COO Mike Agovino, who'll be part of the panel, is publishing a five-part series this week on the matter. See the four installments so far here.)

Kevin Straley spent eight years as an executive with XM Satellite Radio before joining TuneIn as VP/Programming in December 2011. He too will be part of the panel discussion. TuneIn is a streaming content aggregation service that powers Internet radio tuning for mobile apps and streaming devices. By the end of May, the company surpassed one billion listening hours for the year.

As we announced (here), Cotter and Straley will be joined by executives from the Ford Motor Company, Pioneer Electronics, and Pandora. Entercom president and CEO David Field keynotes RAIN Summit Orlando, which will also feature a research presentation from GroupM Next, RAIN publisher Kurt Hanson's "State of the Industry," the RAIN Internet Radio Awards, and the RAIN Reader cocktail party. For more information and a link to register to attend, see the RAIN Summit Orlando page here.

Slacker brings on former AOL Radio/Shoutcast GM Namerow

Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 12:25pm

Leading webcaster and on-demand music service Slacker has named Lisa Namerow SVP of strategic partnership operations.

Namerow is a veteran of Internet radio, formerly general manager of the AOL Radio and Shoutcast, and later general manager of the AOL Music Network. She came to the then-named America Online in 2000 from the broadcast radio world, with experience at Saga Communications and Infinity Broadcasting.

Namerow will lead partnership operations for Slacker, with a focus on broadening existing and future partnerships, according to the company press release.

Slacker introduces music charts based on how listeners interact with streaming music

Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 12:05pm

Online radio/on-demand music service Slacker has launched what it calls a better and more advanced way to measure how listeners engage with the music they're streaming.

Billboard charts, long the industry's go-to for measuring song popularity, until recently were based solely on sales of music. Other charts evolved to reflect only broadcast radio play. But today, music listeners don't buy as much music as they used to, nor do they listen solely to AM/FM for music -- instead streaming it from on-demand sources or Internet radio. The Slacker EQ Score reflects a song's popularity based on "millions of data points" every week, "in a world where access to music is quickly trumping ownership," as the company describes it. 

Each song is give a score from 1-100, based on specific positive and negative actions listeners take when hearing the song, which include: "Starts" (the number of times a song was started on Slacker), "Completes" (the number of times a song was listened to in its entirety), "Hearts" (the number of times a user "hearts" a track, requesting to hear it more frequently), plus "Shares" on social media, "Skips," Station changes during a song or "Bans" the song or artist.

Weekly charts will rank the 40 "most engaging songs" from across the service (from which Slacker has also generated a listenable online radio station), plus six genre-specific rankings for Pop, Rock, Country, Hip Hop/R&B, Alternative/Indie and Electronic/Dance. Slacker will publish the rankings every Thursday beginning today.

Alternative rock band Imagine Dragons topped Slacker's inaugural Top 40 chart with their song "Radioactive." Pop artists Justin Timberlake and Icona Pop and Country artists Randy Houser and Easton Corbin were also in the top five. See this week's charts and read more in Slacker's blog here. You can see the full-size Slacker image here.

Fleischer transitions to Radionomy as Premium Content Director, Slacker hires Hayase as Chief Product Officer

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 6:20pm

Radionomy has brought on former TuneIn Director of Content Scott Fleischer (pictured) as Premium Content Director (beginning in June). As he did at TuneIn, Fleisher will create broadcaster- and content provider-partnerships for the service. Belgian-based Radionomy provides a webcasting platform for professional and amateur webcasters. Fleischer's career experience includes a stint with this publication.

(Radionomy CEO Alexandre Saboundjian will speak at RAIN Summit Europe tomorrow in Brussels, on the Growing Your Online Audience panel.)

Meanwhile, music streaming service Slacker announced today it has named John Hayase its new Chief Product Officer. Hayase will oversee the development of Slacker’s digital music service across all platforms. Most recently VP/Client Solutions with ElasticPath, his career path includes time at EA and Boeing.

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