Spotify

iTunes Radio more of a danger to smaller players than to Pandora, analysts suggest

Monday, September 23, 2013 - 12:20pm

Industry observers who spoke with Ad Week say don't look for iTunes Radio to decimate current leaders like Pandora and Spotify.

"Remember, even on (Apple's) own devices, Amazon Kindle books are the most read eBooks despite Apple's attempt to come in a change that business," said Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey. However, most of these experts think the competitive presence of Apple may be enough to squeeze out some smaller players.

"iTunes has a massive user base. Even if only 5 or 10 percent sign up, they are going to affect the on-demand radio stations that exist right now," said Mark Simpson, president of digital marketing firm Maxymiser. "I think we'll see a shrinkage in the number of players, while iTunes Radio grows into a significant player quite quickly."

Lauren Russo of media buyer Horizon Media sees Apple's entrance as a "win" for companies like hers. "Greater competition in the space will lead to better pricing and/or value" for ads, she said.

ABI Research predicts 294 million consumers will use Apple’s mobile iOS, updated last week with iTunes Radio "baked-in," by year’s end.

Read more in Ad Week here.

Of course you need access to your Spotify playlists when you're dead

Thursday, September 12, 2013 - 12:55pm

Swedish audio component makers Pause Ljud & Bild, reports Digital Trends, have created product called the CataCombo Sound System -- that pumps your favorite Spotify playlist into your casket!

The system is powered by a two-way speaker system and 2.5 GHz Intel core processor. Plus, there's a 7" LCD screen installed into your headstone, so your next-of-kin can see what you've been listening to lately.

Make sure you set your Spotify playlist to "collaborative," so loved ones can update it for you. Your exposure to new music will undoubtedly be limited, and you wouldn't want to appear "stale" and "out of touch."

Naturally, there's a video demostration. See it, and Digital Trends' coverage, here.

The clever "Grooves for My Grave" Spotify playlist at right comes from Digital Trends as well, which credits some of its suggestions to Redditors.

Xbox Music expands Microsoft "Radio" service

Monday, September 9, 2013 - 11:45am

Microsoft waded boldly into new waters today by extending its Xbox Music service to non-Windows mobile devices, and eliminating subscription fees from the desktop web version.

The maneuver comes one day before Apple’s iPhone/iOS 7 event on Tuesday. The timing seems intended to counter the soon-to-be-launched iTunes Radio service, while also driving a stake into the ground occupied by Spotify and Rdio.

As of today, Xbox Music has a familiar two-tiered model. Unsubscribed users (the free tier) can hear music through the desktop interface, but not in the mobile app. Subscribed users (the payment tier) can listen to the "Radio" portion of the service (formerly called Smart DJ), and will, in future versions, be able to download tracks to their smartphones for offline playback.

By releasing Xbox Music apps on iOS and Android platforms, Microsoft is implicitly acknowledging the distant third-place position of Windows mobile devices, and that Xbox gamers likely do not carry Windows phones. Stepping into competing ecosystems is a necessary distribution tactic to fully engage the existing Xbox user base.

While it’s easy to interpret the expansion of Xbox Music as a "Watch out Spotify" moment, Microsoft’s service is currently rudimentary compared to the more sophisticated Spotify client and app experiences. Entrenched users of existing services have invested in their favorite platforms by developing social relationships, making service-specific playlists, and downloading subscription tracks for offline listening. This "service equity" immunizes the platform from user churn to some extent.

At the same time, Spotify and all other independent listening platforms have reason to fear the usage clout of the major ecosystem companies -- Apple (iOS), Google (Android), Microsoft (Windows 8.x), and Amazon (Prime, if it ever gets into Internet radio) and their massive built-in audiences.
 

Spotify rolls out Connect feature for improved "whole home" experience

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 11:15am

Spotify, the leading on-demand music subscription service in the U.S., is launching Spotify Connect, a new feature that makes it easier to use and control the service on various devices around the house.

The "Connect" button now appears on the iOS app, and with it, the listener can seamlessly change the source of their Spotify music from handsets to different Wi-Fi-connected home devices (from 10 different manufacturers). It's an integration of the traditional music service with the in-home hardware systems like Sonos and the no-longer-supported-by-Logitech Squeezebox.

"It's important to note that you'll need a Premium Spotify subscription to use Connect," writes TheVerge. "That makes the feature another exclusive the company's using to try and convert free users to premium subscribers as it looks to reach profitability..."

Read more in TechCrunch here and TheVerge here.

Spotify experiments with methods to deliver ad messages beyond audio spots

Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 10:40am

Music subscription service Spotify is reportedly offering advertisers the chance to beta test a new Facebook/Twitter-like "follow" feature, which would enable brands to push content like branded playlists to listeners, AdAge reports.

Earlier this year Spotify added a 'follow' feature for artists, labels, and users. For advertisers, the feature could be a way to reach Spotify customers who pay not to hear audio ads. One advertiser who's taken a stab at it is shampoo brand Herbal Essences, which has created a playlist of songs to sing in the shower.

"Spotify is also looking at how it can enhance ad targeting beyond age, gender and geo-location to potentially include interest-level information, giving advertisers the ability to reach people who listen to certain genres or even specific artists," reports AdAge.

Meanwhile, a global music licensing company called Music Dealers has partnered with Spotify and will present what they call "Sonic Identity Workshops" to advertisers. These are to educate marketers on how to incorporate music into a brand's identity.

"Each workshop, facilitated by a panel of industry names, promises to dissect and analyse the individual attributes that make up a brand's sound," according to a press release. "Customer filters and curated playlists will then be created that match the brand’s sonic identity." Read more in AdAge here and MusicWeek here.

GigaOm gets a view of how Beats instructs human curators to program playlists for new service

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 1:10pm

Music subscription services have lately shown a greater understanding of the power and need for musical "gatekeepers" or curators to help users parse the oceans of music to discover that which they're likely to enjoy (just lately, see Spotify Browse  and Rdio Stations). In radio, of course, these wise sherpas have been called "programmers."

Beats Music (more in RAIN here) has stated that effective curation is its guiding principle as it rebuilds the Mog service (we've covered this here).

GigaOm got access to some Beats Music "internal guidance" for the musicians and freelancers who are creating playlists for the new service. These programmers are working with a web authoring system to sample songs and build playlists that Beats Music editors request (apparently focused on artists, genres, years, and listener activity -- and less than 70 minutes long).

"Beats Music definitely doesn’t want to sound like college radio. It wants human curation, but no strong DJ characters, with the exception of those well-known musicians asked to participate," writes Janko Roettgers for GigaOm. "Freelancers are told to 'beware of personal whims' and 'avoid overly clever transitions.' Oh, and 'talking down to listeners' isn’t desired, either. Record store clerks apparently don’t need to apply."

Read GigaOm here.

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