SoundCloud

Soundcloud celebrates five years; releases impressive stats

Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 1:10pm

SoundCloud, the audio upload site sometimes positioned as the audio version of YouTube, turns five years old this week. The company blog celebrates the milestone, and mentions a few eye-opening usage statistics.

Upload traffic is intense, with an average 12 hours of content posted by users every minute. Also impressively, 90 percent of uploaded tracks get a listen, and more than half of them get played in the first hour. (In Spotify, only 80 percent of available tracks ever get played.) 

That last metric points to SoundCloud’s effectiveness as a social network. Users who develop large groups of followers can use on-site notification mechanisms to drive attention to uploaded tracks. In our testing, these attention-grabbing tools can start the “play” turnstile ticking away within seconds of posting. 

Sharing of original audio was SoundCloud’s founding mandate. More recently the site has made design and usability changes that encourage pure listening as the main engagement focus. It has worked -- SoundCloud reportedly has 250-million monthly active listeners. (Pandora has about 70-million.) 

Listn gets funded for social music listening

Thursday, November 7, 2013 - 11:50am

Listn is a music app owned by MFive Labs that expands the social possibilities of music listening by connecting people, and their music collections, across platforms and services. The company received $500-thousand in seed funding this week, giving it a foothold for future growth.

The presumption is that many people use more than one music service, or have more than one collection source -- for example an iTunes collector might also have a YouTube account and be registered at Spotify. Listn solves the “walled garden” problem by providing an encompassing space in which to share content from multiple sources, and develop a social network that likewise crosses boundaries.

Currently, Listn has connection agreements with YouTube, Spotify, Rdio, and SoundCloud. An Apple-only app presently, Listn also soaks up information about your iPod or iPhone collection purchased from iTunes, adding those tracks to YouTube favorites, and your music associated with membership in the other services.

Listn provides a twofold benefit. First, the user doesn’t have to hop from one app to another -- one’s entire macro-collection is presented in a single location. Second, the realm of social sharing and following is greatly expanded. In Listn you meet new people and are exposed to more facets of a person’s music life.

That second point has yet to be fully proved out, in our opinion. Listn provides an interesting way to meet new people, but does not transfer social relationships from connected music service, as it does with music. So, while you can listen to your Spotify tracks in Listn, you cannot listen to your Spotify friends’ playlists unless those friends pile into the Listn app. A socially active subscriber to Spotify, for example, would probably fall back to Spotify where his or her friends are.

Listn’s core mission is reminiscent of the Instant Message startups which pulled that form of communication out of the early web services (CompuServe, Genie, Prodigy, AOL), and unleashed it to the open web in the mid-1990s. That transition can be difficult, when users are reluctant to jump off their islands into the ocean. But the idea behind Listn is solid. People who use multiple music services are forced to engage with separate social schemes. The social aspect of online listening would be more useful and enjoyable if it were more open.

RAIN Weekend Perspective: Week of Oct. 28 - Nov. 1

Friday, November 1, 2013 - 4:30pm

RAIN’s Weekend Perspective summarizes the week’s important events for a weekend catch-up, and revives your blasted synapses for coming week.

PARTNERSHIPS 

The Echo Nest partners with Getty Images: Music services that use The Echo Nest’s intelligence technology will be able to enhance their album art with artist and band photos. [READ]

Spotify partners with Tango Messenger: The alliance lets Tango instant message users to include 30-second Spotify music clips. You might not be familiar with Tango, but it’s a bigger service than Spotify. [READ

MUSIC SERVICES & APPS 

TuneIn reaches 100,000 radio stations: The TuneIn aggregation platform has aggregated up a storm: “The most radio stations ever in one place,” according to the press release. [READ]

Rhapsody introduces new features: RAIN reviews important additions to the Rhapsody music experience. [READ

SoundCloud reaches 250-million listeners: Take that, Pandora, as SoundCloud’s new emphasis on uninterrupted listening is bringing in new users. SoundCloud is now chasing YouTube’s 1-billion users. [READ

Pandora releases Android tablet app: RAIN reviews the essential features that exist in the new version across all devices. [READ

iHeartRadio updates features: The Clear Channel-owned platform gets into concierge-style programming, similar to Songza and Slacker, but with tongue in cheek. [READ

ILLUMINATION 

Edison Research videos show a “barrage of new” in connected cars: Seeking insight to how new-car owners are coping with modern infotainment systems built into digital dashboards, Edison Research produced video interviews with recent car buyers. RAIN interviewed president Larry Rosin. [READ]

Survey/Interview - iTunes Radio little threat to Pandora: Investment firm Canaccord Genuity surveyed Pandora users who have tried iTunes Radio, to get a picture of its existential threat to Pandora. RAIN interviewed the study’s author. [READ]

BIZ / LEGAL 

Swedish musicians threaten to sue labels over Spotify distribution: The musicians' argument is less with Spotify than with labels, and how Spotify revenue is shared with artists by those labels. RAIN untangles it. [READ]

SoundCloud reaches 250-million listeners

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 12:10pm

While Pandora’s “active listener” metric hovers around 73-million (72.7M reported in September), and iTunes Radio brags of attracting 20-million unique users in its first month, SoundCloud is quietly rolling up an impressive user base. TechCrunch reports from its Disrupt Europe conference that the audio-upload site now hosts 250-million “monthly active listeners.”

SoundCloud was founded in 2008 as a storage service and collaboration platform for music producers. In early days, the founders compared SoundCloud to Flickr, the photo-sharing site. Today, it makes sense to compare SoundCloud to YouTube. As Google reportedly prepares a formalized YouTube music service, it is interesting to see SoundCloud’s user-generated content approach as an audio-only parallel to YouTube.

Soundcloud has long offered subscription plans, but geared to creators who upload audio, not to listeners. All listening and organizing of music on SoundCloud is free, unlimited, and without advertising. Revenue comes entirely from subscriptions. Paid accounts are for creators, who pay for additional space for uploading and enhanced statistics. In this way SoundCloud historically has been focused on delivering premium value to the creator side of its user base.

Last December SoundCloud launched a redesigned site with listener-friendly features and a clear intent to build up the listener side. The site’s content is far-reaching (again, like YouTube), ranging from the rawest of amateur uploads to well-known artists sharing clips, full releases, outtakes, and live audio. It all adds up to a fascinating and engaging landscape for the inquisitive, lean-in user. Some lean-back functionality was added in the redesign, too, keeping the music flowing radio-style.

The repositioning of SoundCloud as a music listening service seems to be working from the vantage of growing audience, which has grown from 200-million to 250-million since July.

"Radio futurologist" Cridland will give Summit's "feature presentation," then lead mobile panel

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 11:50pm

Those who follow Internet radio -- like RAIN readers -- are likely familiar with Media UK managing director James Cridland. The self-described "radio futurologist" will give the featured presentation at RAIN Summit Europe (now less than two weeks away).

He was digital media director of Virgin Radio in London, and joined the BBC in 2007 to work on the BBC iPlayer for radio. Since then he's worked with various audio and new media companies (including receiver manufacturer Pure and stream aggregator UK Radioplayer) He organizes the nextrad.io radio conference, and is a founder of hybrid radio tech association RadioDNS.

Cridland's "The Future of Radio: Mobile and Personalised" will examine the medium's future on portable devices, in the context of case studies of broadcasters from all over the world.

Later in the afternoon Cridland (right) will return to moderate a panel discussion on a very similar topic. "Mainstream Mobile" participants will share their views on "best practices" for building listenership on mobile devices and monetizing it.

Two CEOs, both from Germany, join this panel. Based in Hamburg, Christian Richter leads Spoiled Milk, an international digital agency and consultancy on brand management and user experience. Richter (left) is a serial-entrepreneur: he's co-founder of Net radio tuning guide radio.de, and also founder of digital and marketing solutions wathory.com.

Holger Weiss is Berlin-based AUPEO! CEO. AUPEO! is personalized Internet radio with over 120 channels, available in over 40 countries. Weiss (right) joined AUPEO! in 2010 after working for Nokia. He's a specialist in business development, contract negotiations, strategic alliances, leadership, and sales. He spoke at RAIN Summit West.

Interestingly, just after RAIN Summit West, came news that AUPEO! had been acquired by Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America (a division of Panasonic Corporation of North America and an integrated supplier to the automotive industry in North America) (see RAIN here). Hakan Kostepen (left, who also spoke at RAIN Summit West) is that company's executive director of product, planning & innovation. He's part of the leadership behind the company's in-car integration and development of all Panasonic Company technologies and products to optimize the "in-car user experience." Kostepen was responsible for "industry first" Jaguar S-Type Voice Recognition Infotainment System. He's based in the U.S.

Also an engineer by training, Ulrich Köring (right) is head of new media for Austrian hit music broadcaster Kronehit. There he handles all digital products, including the website, side-channels, podcasts, and social networks. His experience also includes work at Radioszene industry trade magazine.

"Mainstream Mobile's" final panelist is online audio distribution platform Soundcloud VP/business development Dave Haynes (left), from the UK. Soundcloud, originally started in Stockholm, but established in Berlin, launched in 2008 and now boasts over 10 million registered users. Hayes himself is a former DJ who has run a record label, a record store, and worked in digital music distribution. He writes a blog and hosts the OpenMusicMedia meetups in London, and organizes Music Hack Day events.

Limited space is still available for RAIN Summit Europe, May 23 at Brussels' Hotel Bloom. All the details, including registration links, are on the RAIN Summit Europe page here.

New Twitter iOS app will personalize music stream based on user's "follower graph"

Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 1:10pm

Various news sources (CNet was first) are reporting that Twitter is building a mobile streaming music application for Apple devices, also involving SoundCloud. The new Twitter music app would suggest music to users based on use data it gathers ("based on a user's follower graph -- artists they are following, and artists that other people they follow are following," says CNet), using tech from music discovery service We Are Hunted (which Twitter acquired). The app could be released on iOS by the end of this month.

Meanwhile, following Pandora's announcement of CEO Joseph Kennedy's imminent departure (reported in RAIN here), a Motley Fool blogger says there are rumors of web giants Facebook or Google buying Pandora, and writes that acquiring the Net radio leader could make sense for either company. 

"(Facebook) has... expanded its reach with a new search tool, news feed, gift offering and pay-for-post feature. It continues to try to find ways to keep users engaged and online longer. A tailored radio station would do just that," the post reads. "Meanwhile Google, is always on the prowl and constantly looking to one-up rivals Apple and Facebook. The search giant could tune into Pandora first for no other reason than to keep it from Apple and Facebook."

More on Twitter, Apple, and SoundCloud here; more on Pandora, Facebook, and Google here.

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