Spotify

Spotify ups its "curation" game by acquiring app startup Tunigo

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 12:50pm

AllThingsDigital reported last week that Spotify has purchased Swedish music discovery startup Tunigo, makers of a popular Spotify app (the news source's Peter Kafka compares the app to webcaster Songza, in that "it is focused on mood- and theme-based playlists").

Kafka thinks it's a sign that "companies are starting to emphasize curation" (that is -- ways to tame the mass of millions of artists and tracks in order to find quality music that suits your tastes).

Last fall Twitter bought music discovery startup We Are Hunted (which also made a popular Spotify app) to help it build its music service. Spotify's move, writes Kafka, is "putting a renewed emphasis on helping people find stuff they like — which has the obvious benefit of keeping them on the service longer, and/or convincing them to pay."

Read more on Spotify and Tunigo in AllThingsDigital here. As we mentioned elsewhere today, Spotify's Benelux managing director Tom Segers will join us for RAIN Summit Europe, May 23 at Brussels' Hotel Bloom. Info and registration links are on the RAIN Summit Europe page.

Summit panelists look at accelerating revenue from ads, subscriptions, and donations

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 12:50pm

Triton Digital president of publisher development Dominick Milano acknowledged that there's a "disconnect" between the unprecedented amount of audio consumption made possible by Internet and mobile technology, and the fact that advertising dollars haven't moved to those platforms in levels reflective of the audience. That "disconnect" served as the premise for the Triton Digital-sponsored "Accelerating Your Revenue" panel, which Milano (at right) moderated, at last month's RAIN Summit West event in Las Vegas.

The panel covered the three principal revenue models for online radio: advertising, premium (or subscription), and listener-supported (i.e. donations).

Katz360 VP of broadcast services and online audio and video sales Dean Mandel suggested one key is the right combination of broadcast radio and online radio -- not only for ad campaigns, but in creating worthwhile listening experiences. He encouraged radio programmers to "take better advantage" of what technology has to offer to improve their online product.

"The programmers are brilliant and if they can come up with interesting content to fill instead of a lot of PSAs and ads, it will help grow the audience," Mandel (left) said.

He said he sees lots of value in what sets local broadcasting apart from national/global database-driven music webcasters: a local brand, personalities, and local content.

Mandel is also a big supporter of targeting advertising, and suggested effective listener-registration helps a lot. His "pro-tip" was for stations to look for online listening happening in markets outside your own that may command higher CPMs (his example was a Charlotte station that might have significant listening in New York City).

He also suggested that media buyers have indeed become sophisticated, and being able to provide them with targeting and third-party tagging on audio will raise CPMs.

Andrew Polsky, as VP of digital media for SBS Interactive, also deals in the advertising world. He says what his company needs is "advocacy" at the agency and buyer level, especially for the Hispanic market.

His company, aside from Hispanic-focused broadcast and online radio, owns MegaTV (video content and network) and SBS Entertainment (which is concert production). Key for him is being able to leverage all the properties as a unified platform, "offering a 360 approach to advertisers," and using content from one property on the others (see his company's LaMusica mobile app as an example).

Polsky (right) seconded Mandel's notion that there needs to be a better solution than "PSAs" to fill long stopsets when streaming broadcast content.

Michael Jackel, who is Spotify VP of West Coast advertising sales, also agreed about the power of being able to target listener groups for advertising (he addressed the perception of his company as a "subscription service," but insisted Spotify is a "dual-model" business with the large majority of its users accessing via free, ad-supported streaming).

Moderator Milano asked Jackel (left) if there were a model for subscription alone to work -- or if services need a free version to remain viable.

"If the value proposition is really there, pure subscription can work," Jackel answered. "Spotify has a great product that's free, but the premium is a great value proposition." He said, in the U.S. especially, people are used to "free," so Spotify's free streaming makes sense. "Pandora isn't winning on the subscription model because there's not that much value to their premium service," Jackel went on. "Few people will pay just to 'not have ads'. You have to offer something that's really compelling in order for people to pay for it."

Compelling content is also key to driving donation revenue for listener-supported stations, like Joe Gallagher's MVYRadio.com. After some background on WMVY-FM and its early foray into streaming (Net Radio Sales, now Katz360 and AndoMedia/Webcast Metrics, now owned by Triton Digital, were both born of these efforts), Gallagher said successful donation support relys on offering content that "serves a niche, serves a vertical" and allows for "a passionate connection" with listeners.

Gallagher is the "#1 volunteer" for Friends of MVYRadio, the non-profit 501(c)3 that runs the (now) Internet-only, listener-supported station (more in RAIN here). He's also president and CEO of Aritaur Communications, former owners of WMVY-FM. He says his listener-supported model has "worked well, really well," and allowed for year-over-year growth for the past four years. The station recently raised the necessary $600k to operate for the rest of the year.

Gallagher (right) explained that listener targeting allows him to (for example) entice donations from L.A.-area listeners by giving away tickets for a concert there.

Milano polled the panel on the likely entrance of Apple into online radio. Katz360's Manel said, "It'll grow the business, it's a good thing. It might make local AM/FM focus more on their local value proposition" -- again, meaning the personalities and local content.

Spotify's Jackel said, "It's good. When (Apple) come(s) in, advertisers and Wall Street will see the value... it lifts the industry, it publicizes other businesses, to consumers AND advertisers."

You can listen to audio coverage of this panel, and all of RAIN Summit West's content, at kurthanson.com (look in the right-hand margin).

Triton Digital CCO and general manager of data and measurement Rob Favre and SVP and general manager of international markets Jay Supovitz will be part of RAIN Summit Europe, May 23 at Brussels' Hotel Bloom. Spotify's Benelux managing director Tom Segers will also be there. Info and registration links are on the RAIN Summit Europe page.

IAB forms council of major audio brands and services to boost online audio ad market

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 1:05pm

Last.fm, Spotify, the UK's Absolute Radio, and YouTube are among the charter services joining the IAB's new Audio Council to find ways to increase value for audio ads.

The council will include consumer brands but also audio creative specialists, market researchers, and advertising experts.

"The newly formed council will explore how to further educate brands of the benefits and value of digital audio advertising along with helping audio firms develop their business models," reports TheDrum.com here.

Industry expert suggests iRadio streaming service will come to protect iTunes download business

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 1:05pm

A recent piece in GigaOm suggests Apple will launch an Internet radio service not to compete with Pandora, but to bolster its music sales business against competition from on-demand services like Spotify.

As NPD Group's Russ Crupnick explained to the RAIN Summit West audience in Las Vegas, his company's data shows 38% of American consumers still think it's important to "own" music (as opposed to accessing it via on-demand streams). But for users of Pandora and other webcasters, that number rises to 41%. What's more, many of these respondents said they've purchased more new music because of what they hear on these services.

It's logical to assume, as GigaOm contributor Janko Roettgers, that partisans of on-demand services -- since they basically have any music at their fingertips at any time -- aren't nearly as compelled to purchase music downloads.

So, while the Spotify-type services, since they replace music ownership, compete with iTunes download sales, Pandora actually encourages music sales.

Apple's move would simply keep that stream listening "in-house" (and perhaps they can sell some ads) and make it ever-so-slightly easier and quicker to sell a download.

Not that this will be easy. An article from The Street (in MSN Money) reminds observers that even a titan like Apple "cannot overcome Pandora's enormous first-mover advantage."

Two major points here: (1) Pandora has created an extensive sales structure with the goal of capturing traditional radio ad spending. Apple is far behind in this respect; (2) Apple "simply will not be able to do personalization and discovery -- two key components that set Pandora apart from its competition -- at the level necessary to match the quality of Pandora's offering as push-a-button-and-li​sten-wherever-you-ar​e radio." writes The Street.

Regardless, as the NPD data also shows, Apple's share of the download market (while still as dominant 63% in 2012) has been falling in recent years (from 68% in 2011, 69% in 2009).

Roettgers concludes, "That’s why it’s smart for Apple to invest in iRadio. The goal is not to kill Pandora, but to actually bring that type of radio service to more users, and keep them from switching to a full-blown access model."

Read the GigaOm piece here; Reuters on more NPD data here; and The Street in MSN Money here. Finally, listen to NPD Group's Russ Crupnick's presentation from RAIN Summit West here on SoundCloud (press the orange "Play" button when the page loads).

Former Katz360 president Benedik takes ad sales post at Spotify

Friday, March 29, 2013 - 12:05pm

Radio Ink reports today the former Katz360 president Brian Benedik (right) has joined subscription music service Spotify as VP/North America Ad Sales. He'll be based in New York.

Benedik left Katz 360 in September (RAIN coverage here). Radio Ink's coverage today is here.

Spotify will be represented at RAIN Summit West April 7 in Las Vegas by VP/West Coast Ad Sales Michael Jackel. He and Katz360 VP/Sales Dean Mandel will both take part in the "Jump Start Your Revenue" panel (more here).

MS, Spotify, The Echo Nest create visually-oriented playlist creation tool

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 12:10pm

The expert DJ knows the power of not only playing the right songs, but in the right order to create flow. Microsoft and Spotify have teamed with music intelligence firm The Echo Nest and created a visual tool to sort music playlists based on the songs' characteristics.

It's called Mixshape. It uses Spotify's music library, The Echo Nest's database of music data, and is built for Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system's and Internet Explorer 10 web browser's touch-screen interface.

Playlist curators manipulate shapes on the screen to manage the tempo of the song flow. The shapes are arranged in song order, with different colors to represent key, shapes for "feel," and speed of the animation represents tempo and energy. When the playlist has been properly shaped, it can be exported to Spotify, where it can be played and shared via social media.

MixShape launched today in the UK, but should be accessible in all of Spotify's markets.

The Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese will take part in the "Accelerating Your Audience Growth" panel at RAIN Summit West April 7 in Las Vegas. Spotify VP/West Coast Ad Sales Michael Jackel will speak on the "Jump Start Your Revenue" panel. More details (and registration link) here.

Read more about Mixshape at TheNextWeb here; also in The Echo Nest's blog here. The Mixshape site is here.

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