Two more on-demand music services include Internet radio in their gameplans

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 1:05pm

Online music store and "white label" vendor 7Digital has announced plans to expand its service to an online radio service, plus more on-demand streaming, and "scan-and-match" capability for its existing cloud storage.

The company, having raised $10 million, also plans to offer its 22 million track library to more markets in North America and Europe. Paid Content has more here. The company also announced it will be the "official music download provider" for the BlackBerry 10 line of smartphones coming out next year. More here.

Meanwhile, music streaming service is launching new mobile apps, widening its footprint to 27 countries, and will have apps preloaded on Lenovo Windows 8 tablets, Android tablets, and some PCs. is available in the U.S., the UK, most of Europe, Brazil, Mexico, Hong Kong, Australia, Malaysia, and more.

Rara offers "ready-made playlists and stations, put together by music experts," and offline listening. It costs 1.99 pounds, euros or dollars per month for three months of ad-free mobile access to 18 million tracks. After three months, it's £/€/$9.99 per month. Web-only access is £/€/$0.99 per month for the first three months, then £/€/$4.99 per month.

Add these services to the list of other on-demand streamers that include online radio among their offerings: Spotify, Rdio, Mog, the new Xbox Music, and more. 

TechCrunch has more on here.

NPR Digital Services, eMarketer report big gains for mobile-optimized websites

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 1:20pm

NPR Digital Services says streaming via the mobile site has more than tripled for 20 of the "few dozen" stations using the new mobile web design.

NPR Digital Services is a division of NPR, and partners with member stations on digital initiatives. In August Digital Services made available its "mobile web theme" that includes a "prominent, persistent player for live streams," design for smaller screens, an inline audio player within stories, and more (read more here).

"Before this change, people visiting the station site from a mobile device saw the full desktop web site, which made the stream hard to find and often not even playable," NPR Digital Services explains in its blog. "Thus, during a representative week in mid-July, only 2.1% of visits to these stations' sites using a mobile device included streaming.

"But with the new interface, streaming increased to 8.6%, because we give the stream more prominence and provide an easy-to-use, persistent player that works on iPhone and Android. We expect this number to rise rapidly as more consumers turn to their mobile devices for listening on the go."

For stations using the new mobile theme, mobile listening to audio segments reportedly increased 81%, and mobile users are reading more stories.

Not surprisingly, radio's certainly not alone in reaping benefits of smart mobile design. Google commissioned a study this past summer of U.S. adult smartphone Internet users that showed "about two-thirds of respondents said they were more likely to purchase something from a mobile-optimized site, while three-quarters said they were more likely to make a return visit to the site," eMarketer reports.

And there's a price to pay for not making the mobile effort. "Failing to design sites for mobile had spillover effects, potentially damaging the reputation of the company," eMarketer wrote.

Back to NPR: "It's becoming clear that our mobile audience wants to listen. When we make the listening experience better on mobile devices, our users respond," they conclude. "If your web experience isn't optimized for your growing mobile audience, you're missing a key opportunity for audience growth and engagement. System-wide, 18% of visits to station sites are coming via mobile devices, and that number rises every month." On this note, eMarketer projects there will be 198.8 million U.S. mobile Internet users in 2016.

Read the NPR Digital Services blog post here. You can read the eMarketer story here.

Music festival video streams could mean an ad revenue windfall for show producers

Friday, October 12, 2012 - 12:35pm

Pollstar says, "this year might also go down as the year when (music festival) live-streams started crossing into mainstream."

About a third of this weekend's Austin City Limits Music Festival's 130 bands will have their sets streamed via YouTube. ACL will offer multiple channels from several stages, Pollstar reports, "and the production has increasingly taken on the polish of a live television broadcast." This year's Coachella festival offered three live streams of video; Lollapallooza offered two distinct channels.

AEG Digital Media has produced streaming for fests like Coachella. Chris Roach, the company's head of business development, told Pollstar, "We’ve seen the average view time is over an hour in one sitting. That’s a pretty engaged eyeball for an advertiser to put their dollar against." C3 Presents, which produces the Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits fests, says the number of stream viewers has climbed into the "high millions."

Read more in Pollstar here.

Billboard top current music charts will start using data from select streaming services, as well as download sales

Friday, October 12, 2012 - 12:35pm

Billboard is now factoring streaming data and digital download sales into its rankings for major music charts. Billboard announced yesterday that rankings for five of its top current music charts will take into account plays on streaming services like Slacker, Spotify, Rhapsody, Muve, Rdio, and Xbox Music.

The 50-song charts will still include radio airplay data from Nielsen BDS. This is the same formula Billboard uses to create its "all-genre" Hot 100 songs ranking. The Billboard charts Hot Rock Songs, Hot Country Songs, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Hot Latin Songs, and Rap Songs will now factor plays on select streaming services, as well as digital download sales tracked by Nielsen SoundScan.

Additionally, as Billboard explains, the new methodology "will reward crossover titles receiving airplay on a multitude of formats. With digital download sales and streaming data measuring popularity on the most inclusive scale possible, it is only just the radio portion of Billboard chart calculations that includes airplay from the entire spectrum of monitored formats."

"The way people consume music continues to evolve and as a result so do our genre charts, which now track the many new ways fans experience, listen to and buy music," says Silvio Pietroluongo, Billboard Director of Charts. "We're proud to be offering updated genre charts that better reflect the current music landscape..."

Leading Internet radio outlet Pandora wasn't specifically mentioned, but the press release does read "among others" when listing participating streamers.

Read more in Billboard here.

RAIN Guest Essay: "Song 2" by Andy Lipset

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 11:30am



Earlier in the year, I wrote an article for RAIN entitled "The Song Remains the Same" (here) which discussed how the noise around the subject of streaming was hurting potential dollars to come into the marketplace for all players in the space -- be it pureplay companies or broadcasters. 

Today, there is another wrinkle that has appeared in the space that could start to hamper dollar flow and that is one around technology. So, I have titled this article "Song 2," a follow up to my original article in January. ("Song 2" was also a big alternative rock hit in the 90’s and - somewhat appropriate to what’s happening in the marketplace -was recorded by the band Blur.)

I want to center on the debate whether or not broadcasters should stream separate commercials in their online versus over-the-air product.

There is a lot of discussion around this primarily because the ad breaks in the streams of many broadcasters sound terrible. Spots run over one another. Some spots don’t start on time. Some of the breaks finish when the over the air broadcast has already started, and spots may finish 20 seconds into the start of a song. While some have categorized the decision to discontinue running separate breaks as a royalty issue — at the heart of it, this is more of a product and, specifically, a technology, issue—and it’s one that will put a cap on money that flows into the market.

Personally, I do not believe that the broadcasters should pull their ability to insert ads into their streams. That said, the issue is an understandable one from the broadcaster’s perspective. To keep your current listeners engaged, and to attract new listeners, the stream has to sound good.

But rather than run away from the problem, I would rather see the broadcasters say “I need to fix it.” This is 2012, and the problem of in-stream ad-syncing should be a very addressable issue at this point of the evolution of the medium and the technology that supports it. Talk to your vendors and work with them to fix the issue. If they point to the ad network, the insertion company, the CDN, or any other vendor in the chain as being the problem, ask them all to jump on the phone together and work it out until they find the problem. If they say the issue is on your side, ask them to help you to work it out. If they can’t work it out, it may be time to look at other vendors. Your product's sound and potential revenue should not be hurt because a technology vendor cannot service and stand behind their own product.

I see advertising revenue getting hurt from several different buckets because of this issue:

  1. Advertisers who have streaming dollars to invest today pull their budgets. We know that advertisers are hesitant to invest in products that sound bad, or worse, where they are unsure of how their spots will run. If you haven’t listened to the focus groups that Edison Research did around digital advertising (in RAIN here), you should do it (here). Current streaming advertisers have a lot to say about product quality and how it relates to investment in dollars. There are several national agencies that have pulled dollars from broadcaster’s streams because of break quality issues.
  2. New revenue to the station gets hurt dramatically : Let’s be honest, advertisers are looking for elements in their spend such as better accountability, better targeting, tracking, geo-location, frequency capping, engagement and better post-campaign reporting. And let’s face it, most of this can’t be done with a station’s over-the-air inventory. One of the few elements that a station has in its wheelhouse that allows them to participate in the new world of advertising is the inventory in the stream. It has all of the ability to help stations take part in new dollars and make the medium more relevant and robust. The concept of killing this inventory makes very little sense for where the advertising marketplace has shifted and where advertisers will continue to look at to invest.
  3. The overall streaming marketplace gets hurt: If you are a pureplay company, the lack of broadcaster participation in the streaming marketplace, could actually hurt -– not help -- your revenue picture. This is because the more sellers that are in the market telling the streaming story, the faster the market actually grows. This is especially true in nascent markets, and I saw this first-hand from our early days at Ronning Lipset Radio and TargetSpot.

    Fred Wilson, one of our board members at TargetSpot, reinforced to me the point that being one of the only players in the streaming space wasn’t the best thing for the company. He believed "there could be more than one winner in the streaming space" and having more competitors on the street would actually "rise the tide" for more dollars to be driven into the market. While initially I was skeptical, he was absolutely correct. When our sales team was the only unit talking to clients about the streaming marketplace, we grew the marketplace quickly. But when players such as Pandora, Katz360, and Clear Channel entered the arena, the market grew even faster. The same is true today: the more people that are selling the concept of streaming, the more overall heat and share of voice it will get from the advertising community.

Every broadcaster -– let alone media company -– is looking to drive additional advertising dollars into their revenue mix. I am not sure why streaming would be left out of the revenue equation for a broadcaster. There are those that will say the investment of dollars into streaming infrastructure isn’t worth the effort because revenues are not there because the market is still "young." I don’t see it that way--there are many players in streaming writing significant dollars in the space. I think the real question to ask is this: are your revenues not there because the quality of the product is hurting efforts to drive additional dollars to your stations and to the marketplace?

Andy Lipset is the former Chief Revenue Officer at TargetSpot, and prior to that he was Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Ronning Lipset Radio. He has also served as AOL Music's Director of Sales and VP at ValueClick and Interep.

Music streaming service Deezer raises $130 million from Warner Music parent

Monday, October 8, 2012 - 11:25am

Various sources today report French streaming music service Deezer has raised $130 million in a funding round led by Warner Music Group owner Access Industries.

Deezer had been planning to make the announcement Wednesday, but confirmed the deal after the story broke in the French media this past weekend. Deezer Deputy GM, Head of Ad Sales David Deslandes spoke on the "Monetizing Digital Audio" panel at RAIN Summit Europe on Friday in Berlin.

Deezer says it intends to use some of the new money to extend its geographical reach and update the product updates; $30 million of that will reportedly go to buy out current shareholders. The company promises full details will be revealed on Wednesday.

According to, "Deezer has been profitable since 2010 with a number of partnerships including Facebook and local telecommunications companies such as Orange in the UK." CEO Axel Dauchez confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that the company was profitable, "but due to expansion plans was now entering an investment phase. 'We will return to profit in 2014.'"

Deezer currently has 26 million users, of which some 1.5 million have a paid-for subscription. In December Dauchez announced his global strategy to offer a service in every country except Japan and the U.S.

The Journal reports, "Digital channels now account for an estimated 32% of record-company revenues globally, up from 29% in 2010. Some markets now see more than half of their revenues derive from digital channels, including the U.S. (52%), South Korea (53%) and China (71%)."

Read more in The Wall Street Journal here. There's more in here.


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