streaming

Michael Robertson's new UberStations finds other live music or talk based on what you're listening to now

Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 11:55am

With the intent of giving listeners an easier and more efficient way to navigate the sea of AM/FM content available online, Michael Robertson today officially launched UberStations.com.

It's designed as a "one-stop" for listeners to quickly scan currently airing content from thousands of AM and FM radio stations, find the talk or music content they want via built-in recommendation, and remain within a single "uniform browser/player experience." It's similar in a way -- with some fundamental differences and new twists -- to "aggregation" or "tuning" services like TuneIn. 

That recommendation engine feature is particularly interesting. When you find a station playing a song you like, you can click "more choices" to find other stations across the country currently playing songs and artists similar to your original choice. And it works the same way with talk content. (And it looks like it could soon work with Internet stations too -- we found AOL: Daft Punk Radio, but couldn't get it to play.)

The aforementioned TuneIn, by the way, has just begun an "events focused" initiative in which stations can promote special one-time events like in-studio performances, celebrity interviews, and contests. Listeners can even add these events to their personal calendars.

Michael Robertson is the entrepreneur who launched MP3.com, MP3Tunes, and the "DVR for radio" DAR.fm.

Read his press release on UberStations here. He's made a video introduction of the service here. Hypebot has coverage too, here.

CC strikes direct licensing deal with Fleetwood Mac for on-air, streaming royalties

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 1:50pm

Clear Channel has struck yet another "on-air revenue share in exchange for decreased streaming royalty deal" with a sound recording rights holder, but this time, it isn't a music label group. It's Fleetwood Mac. The band.

CCM&E announced today its agreement with legendary recording artists Fleetwood Mac that will pay the band when Clear Channel radio stations play sound recordings owned by the band. In exchange, Clear Channel will nearly certainly enjoy a significant discount on its online royalty obligation.

The press release doesn't explicitly say, but it's likely that this deal applies only to the music on the band's new EP, "Extended Play." The band's other recordings, including legendary albums like "Rumours," "Tusk," and the self-titled 1975 album on which members Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks made their debut with the band, are likely still the property of the record labels for which they were recorded.

The new EP features the first recording of new Fleetwood Mac music in over a decade. Note that it was released by LMJS Productions (for Lindsey, Mick, John, Stevie).

The independent labels who have similar agreements with Clear Channel include Big Machine Label Group, Glassnote Entertainment Group, eOne, DashGo, Robbins Entertainment, Naxos, rpm Entertainment, Wind-up Records, Fearless Records, Zojak Records and Dualtone Records.

For Smyth, technology-driven change "is the real definition of our competitive landscape"

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 12:30pm

Greater Media chairman and CEO Peter Smyth has long been known as one of the more forward thinking group heads, embracing new media technology and looking beyond the traditional modes and methods of the radio business. Yesterday he answered some of his colleagues' reluctance to to make a real commitment to streaming.

Putting it in terms of the "short game" versus "long game," Smyth acknowleged that online streaming is not yet where it needs to be for broadcasters looking to shore up every cost and squeeze every penny of revenue out of their assets. But streaming's low revenue and technological imperfections are merely today's "growing pains" through which the industry will need to persevere.

Greater Media owns more than 20 stations total in the markets of Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, New Jersey, Philadelphia -- as well as several weekly newspapers in New Jersey.

Smyth insists his company's dedication to streaming, ad-insertion, and an expanding online presence isn't the easy road, but it's the right one: "There is a greater goal to be attained and that is to keep our local brands viable and relevant to rapidly changing audience habits," he wrote.

"We no longer have the luxury of regulated competition within a defined piece of real estate; we have to make every effort to entertain and deliver to advertisers as many highly targeted listeners as possible, wherever we can acquire them," he continued. "Platforms, geography, delivery, media-buying and media usage are all changing and we have to keep pace. This is the real definition of our competitive landscape."

Read Smyth's "From the Corner Office" column here.

Apple reportedly has all finalized deals with all major labels and publishers in time for WWDC

Monday, June 10, 2013 - 12:15pm

[From Monday's early edition:]

Today's the day -- Apple is widely expected to unveil its long-awaited Internet radio product to developers today at its Worldwide Developers Conference. The service is expected to launch for consumers in September, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Launch of the new service was delayed by negotiations with music labels and publishers, and the final deals weren't finalized until late last week (see RAIN here) (the final publishing holdout, Sony/ATV, has apparently reached an agreement with Apple -- see CNet's reporting here).

The Journal reports that two of the tougher matters to settle were "the point at which Apple must begin sharing ad revenue with the labels and the minimum guarantee it would offer as an insurance policy." There was also disagreement over "whether Apple will have to pay for songs listeners skip — it won't under some deals — and how well it should compensate music publishers."

All Things Digital's Peter Kafka writes today that "If Apple wants to generate real ad money for iRadio, then that means it has to try to crack the market for radio ads. And that is a very, very un-Appley business.... It doesn’t really matter what kind of precision targeting the Internet offers — the bulk of that $14 billion comes from local ad sales," he wrote. "And it’s a slog." Read more from Kafka here.

According to the paper's sources, Apple will pay the labels about half of the ad revenues, with publishers getting only 10% (which is actually more most webcasters and broadcasters pay).

Read more from The Wall Street Journal here.

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.

Apple Internet radio entry may catch the attention of antitrust regulators, experts tell Washington Post

Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 12:35pm

Music publishers and labels may not be the only bumps in Apple's road to launching its upcoming Internet radio service.

Some experts, according to The Washington Post, say federal antitrust laws may gum the works for Apple as well.

Apple's share of the music download business with iTunes is above 60%, which reportedly "means regulators are likely to monitor any move into a related business to ensure that the company isn't improperly using its muscle to squeeze out competitors," writes the paper.

The key issue, according to the experts with whom the paper spoke, would be if Apple's licensing deals with labels and publishers took advantage of the company's size and market share to unfairly box-out companies like Pandora or Spotify in the competition for customers.

The company is currently embroiled in antitrust legal proceedings involving e-books.

Read more from The Washington Post here.

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