Slacker launches app for TV streaming box Roku

Friday, June 1, 2012 - 11:35am

RokuSlacker Radio has arrived on Roku, a device used to stream web content to TVs. Roku also others apps from Pandora, SomaFM, Radio Paradise, Live365, TuneIn, Rdio, MOG and other services. Slacker's new app offers more than 200 curated stations, plus content from ESPN Radio and ABC News.

"Television apps are the latest frontier in personalized radio services," comments The Verge (here). You can find out more from Roku's blog here.

Top 20 webcasters' audience up 79% year-over-year, shows Triton Webcast Metrics

Thursday, May 31, 2012 - 12:10pm

Triton Digital rankings for September 2009 through April 2012

Web radio leaders Pandora and Clear Channel continued their growth in April,according to Triton Digital's newly-released April Webcast Metrics.

Their increases helped push the overall AAS (Average Active Sessions, essentially equivalent to AQH) of the Top 20 webcasters to nearly 1.7 million in the Domestic Mon-Sun 6a-12m daypart. That's a gain of 79% year-over-year. Almost all of that growth is thanks to Pandora and Clear Channel, both of which have grown more than 100% year-over-year (Pandora AAS up more than 675,000, Clear Channel up nearly 90,000).

Pandora grew 4% month-to-month (an increase of more than 48,000), reaching an AAS of nearly 1.2 million. The webcaster is up 131% year-over-year and up 18% since January 2012.
The #2-ranked Clear Channel reached an AAS of 171,803 in April, up 2% month-to-month. It has grown 108% year-over-year. 
The largest month-to-month percentage growth came from #4-ranked Slacker, with an increase of 19% over March to reach an AAS of 47,480. That's more or less a recovery to where Slacker stood in January. The webcaster is up 59% year-over-year.
Other relatively strong growth came from Hubbard (up 10% to reach a new record-high AAS of 5,219) and Univision (up 6%). Most other broadcasters were flat or declined slightly (including the #3-ranked CBS Radio, down 1%).
(The chart above shows the growth of Pandora, CBS, Clear Channel, the top 5 terrestrial radio groups and Slacker from September 2009 through April 2012. Note that Pandora's AAS numbers from December 2010 through mid-August 2011 were affected by the omission of tracking code in some of its mobile apps. Click to view in full size.)

You can find the Domestic Mon-Sun 6a-12m ranking below. Find out more from Triton Digital’s Webcast Metrics report here (PDF) and find our coverage of March 2012’s ratings here.

Triton Digital Domestic Ranker for April 2012

Slacker, Echo Nest, iHeartRadio, Rovi execs debate role of "human touch," listener data during "Personalizable Radio" panel

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 11:00am

Personalizable radio panelCustomizable radio, like the offerings from Slacker, iHeartRadio, Pandora and others, is a "combination of art and science," members of the "Personalizable Radio" panel at RAIN Summit West explained. The discussion was one of the most popular and thought-provoking of the conference.

The "art and science" metaphor was first put forward by Owen Grover, SVP of iHeartRadio. On the one hand, there's the "science": data from companies like The Echo Nest and Rovi about what artists are similar to other artists, what vocalists sound the same, what guitar solos are related and so on. 

But then there's the "art" of also taking into account the much more complicated "cultural" factors, explained Rovi Director of Architecture & Innovation Michael Papish. That is, linking artists and songs that don't necessarily relate to one another scientifically, but that are tied together in popular culture. "There's a lot more going on than just saying 'these two songs sound alike, therefore we should play them together.' There's a lot more behind why humans like different types of music," said Papish. 

Both Grover and Slacker CEO Jim Cady spoke to the power of having an emotional connection within the stream as well. "There has to be humans behind it," said Cady. Slacker employs 75 programmers to give their streams that human touch. Otherwise, "there's a missing emotional connection." He says most users want that "lean-back," curated experience (as long as they can "lean-forward" when need be to customize the stream). Grover said Clear Channel has seen their Custom Radio service actually push new listeners to the traditional AM/FM streams (which are all curation and virtually no personalization).

Michael PapishBut Papish (pictured left) challenged the idea of the power of the human touch. "We think there's something magical being done by the DJ song-to-song, but maybe it's all in the listener's head," he said, referencing studies that found that listeners prefer a random assortment of music just as much as a carefully-crafted playlist. "There may not be a way to measure whether a playlist is 'good' or not."

Whether the playlist has a human behind it or not, "The idea of uniformed playlist given a seed artist is unacceptable," argued The Echo Nest's CEO Jim Lucchese. It must be customized to each listener's individual preferences, and the process of discovering what those preferences are may be the next big challenge for personalizable radio services and the engines that fuel them.

Indeed, data about artist similarity can only take you so far, said Grover. "You don't want to start making too big leaps of faith around data," he explained. "A thumbs down on a Lady Gaga song doesn't necessarily tell you much of anything about that song, that listener, or Lady Gaga." Perhaps the sequence of songs wasn't quite right, or the time of day had an impact, or the listener may have just heard the song 50 times already. More information is needed.

"We may have hit the wall in terms of what we can do with either thumbs up/down, or ratings," mused Papish. "We need to figure out new, better ways of actually asking our listeners what they like." That process is still on-going. "We are just getting started identifying the individual listener," said Lucchese. Papish shared that Rovi, for example, is looking for better ways to have the listener explicitly share preferences with music services. One idea is to use gamification elements to make sharing that information more fun and engaging.

Jim Lucchese and Owen GroverAll this shows that the entire realm of personalizable radio is still "in the exceptionally early days," said Lucchese (pictured first on the right, beside Grover). But it's already changing how consumers think about radio, as the panelists explained.

Cady shared the anecdote of driving with several 10-year-old boys who asked him to skip the song currently playing on FM radio. Grover shared his own experience of a 9-year-old asking why he couldn't go back to the beginning of an AC/DC song playing on the radio. "There's a change that's happening," said Cady. Radio is being redefined and the industry "can't hold on to these old conceptions."

But, in Grover's opinion, the idea that these new customizable services will destroy traditional radio is "nonsense." Papish agreed: "We can't lose that one-on-one feeling," that DJ-curated experience. Not everyone wants that kind of experience all the time, but "we can't lose it."

That said, Grover argued, "If you aren't where your listeners are, with the features and content that they expect, you're nowhere... Be where your listeners are."

You can watch the "Personalizable Radio" panel, moderated by Radio-Info's Sean Ross, from RTT News here.

ABC News Radio taps TargetSpot for digital advertising

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 12:45pm

ABC News RadioABC News Radio has partnered with TargetSpot to deliver online advertising on ABC News audio content. TargetSpot will deliver in-stream audio, video and display ads within ABC News Radio's web content.

"This new relationship gives advertisers the opportunity to sponsor audio versions of Good Morning America, Nightline, World News with Diane Sawyer along with our comprehensive coverage of news and entertainment," said ABC News Radio GM and VP Steve Jones (who recently spoke at RAIN Summit West 2012).

ABC News Radio also has digital partnerships with Slacker and AOL Radio (RAIN coverage here).

Pandora widens ratings lead in February, Clear Channel up as CBS and Slacker dip

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - 11:40am

Triton Digital's Webcast Metrics for February 2012UPDATE: A footnote in Triton Digital's February 2012 Webcast Metrics report notes that audience figures for both Slacker and Pandora are lower than they should be. Slacker's audience is "understated," writes Triton, due to "a collection system migration" in Febraury. Meanwhile Pandora's audience is around 4.5% smaller than it should be "due to a collection node failure in February." That would put Pandora's month-to-month growth at around 10%, rather than the 6% reported in our original coverage below. -- MS

Pandora and Clear Channel saw strong audience gains in February 2012, according to Triton Digital's new Webcast Metrics report. Most other broadcasters and webcasters in the Top 20 ranker grew their audiences as well.

Pandora's AAS (Average Active Sessions, which is essentially equivalent to AQH — i.e., average simultaneous listeners) reached 1,066,500 in February, according to Triton's Domestic Mon-Sun 6a-12m daypart ranker. That's up 6% (or 56,533) from January 2012 and 115% year-over-year.

Meanwhile #2-ranked Clear Channel posted a 13% month-to-month growth, reaching an AAS of 160,903. The broadcaster's AAS is up 92% year-over-year.

CBS Radio, which holds the #3 spot (bumped out of second-place in October 2011 by Clear Channel), declined 2% from January 2012 to reach 61,983. That's down 38% year-over-year.

Slacker's AAS (38,966) declined 19% from January 2012 (though this figure is "understated," see our update above). It's up 36% from February 2011.

Most broadcasters in the Top 20 list saw month-to-month gains, including Radio One (up 13%), Univision (up 11%) and Cox (up 6%).

(The chart above shows the growth of Pandora, CBS, Clear Channel, the top 5 terrestrial radio groups and Slacker from September 2009 through February 2012. Note that Pandora's AAS numbers from December 2010 through mid-August 2011 were affected by the omission of tracking code in some of its mobile apps. Click to view in full size.)

The combined February 2012 AAS of all streamers in Triton's Top 20 ranker (1,514,378) is up 6% over January 2012 and 75% year-over-year.

You can find the Domestic Mon-Sun 6a-12m ranking below. Find out more from Triton Digital’s Webcast Metrics report here (PDF) and find our coverage of January 2012’s ratings here.

Triton Digital Domestic February 2012 rankings


Data driving new Billboard "On-Demand" chart will be included in Hot 100

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 12:30pm

Billboard has created the "On-Demand Songs" chart, based on song plays on subscription online music services. Data from the chart is now included in Billboard's Hot 100.

The weekly chart will rank songs based on "every on-demand play request and plays from unlimited listener-controlled radio channels" available from MOG, Muve Music, Rdio, Rhapsody, Slacker and Spotify (data from Zune and Sony Music Unlimited is planned to be included in the coming weeks). This includes streams as well as tethered downloads, as heard by paying subscribers and free users alike.

Billboards' Hot 100 will now include the streaming data from the new On-Demand Songs chart, plus non-interactive plays from Rhapsody and Slacker. (This is in addition to terrestrial radio plays, digital track sales, plays on video request service Akoo, and audio from on-demand streams from MySpace and Guvera, Yahoo! radio streams and Yahoo! on-demand video plays.)

Nielsen BDS, which collects and processes the streaming data for the chart, says it's tallied more than 4.5. billion audio streams so far this year, including an all-time weekly high of more than 625 million in the past week. The updated Hot 100 and the new On-Demand Songs chart debut tomorrow on and, and in the next issue of Billboard magazine, available Friday. The On-Demand Songs chart will also be featured each week on

Read more from here.

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