Music listening the fastest-growing mobile usage category, comScore finds

Friday, August 3, 2012 - 1:10pm

Mobile musicNew quarterly figures from comScore show 27.6% of mobile subscribers listen to music on their mobile devices. That's up 2.3% from March to June, making it the fastest-growing usage category tracked by comScore.

That said, it's still the least popular activity, coming in behind items like downloading apps (51.4%), playing games (33.4%) and texting (75%).

ComScore also found that the mobile market is more or less divided between Apple and Google. Overall, 47% of the U.S. population now owns a smartphone and 234 million Americans use mobile devices.

TechCrunch has more coverage here.

Financial Times' digital subscriptions outnumber print, half of revenue is now digital

Friday, July 27, 2012 - 12:20pm

Financial Times on a tabletDaily newspaper The Financial Times says its digital subscribers now outnumber those for print. Plus, the publication says half of all FT Group sales revenue is now digital. TechCrunch calls the news "a milestone reached as the world of old media continues its push in a digital direction." 

The Financial Times' digital subscriptions number 300,000 (up 31% year-over-year) while print subscriptions are at 299,000. The publication's overall sales are growing too, pushed by digital which is outpacing overall growth "by quite some way."

Mobile has also become "a significant part" of Financial Times' operation, with 25% of traffic to coming from mobile devices.

TechCrunch has more coverage here.

iHeartRadio-powering Echo Nest raises $17m for international expansion

Friday, July 13, 2012 - 12:00pm

The Echo NestThe Echo Nest -- the music data service that powers companies like iHeartRadio, Spotify, eMusic, VEVO, MOG and others -- has raised $17 million in a new round of financing. "The round brings Echo Nest’s total funding to just over $27 million, making it one of the most-funded music data companies out there," reports TechCrunch.

Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese says the new investment will help the company focus on global expansion. They've seen "a big spike in inbound interest from international developers and music companies, particularly in South American and Eastern Europe."

TechCrunch has more coverage here.

UK grocery giant Tesco acquires "Pandora of Europe" Net radio service we7

Monday, June 18, 2012 - 11:15am

we7British grocery giant Tesco has acquired streaming music service we7 for £10.8m.

Billed as the "Pandora of Europe," we7 decided in September 2011 to discontinue its on-demand offerings in favor a customizable Internet radio service. Its original backers include Peter Gabriel (RAIN coverage here and here).

The question you may be asking at this point, as TechCrunch asks in its headline, is: "What the heck is a grocery store doing buying a music streaming service?" 

The Guardian reports Tesco is one of the UK's largest CD retailers, so the company may be trying to stay one step ahead of consumers who are increasingly abandoning CDs, as TechCrunch writes. Tesco's digital director said, "This move will help us offer a greater choice for the growing number of customers who want to access music instantly on any device." 

"It’s reminiscent of Amazon’s digital strategy, of which Tesco is now surely a competitor," argues TechCrunch, "and ties in nicely with the retailer’s purchase last year of another UK startup, Blinkbox, which lets users stream Hollywood movies on-demand on the same day as their DVD release."

We7 gains potential exposure to a huge audience. "Not only is Tesco the UK’s largest retailer, it has around 5,000 stores worldwide, and operates in 14 countries, with a decent online presence too," writes TechCrunch.

You can find more coverage from the Guardian here and TechCrunch here.

Aid for Pandora, or a new path for broadcasters? Two more industry experts analyze CC/Big Machine deal

Monday, June 18, 2012 - 11:15am

Clear ChannelWeeks later, Clear Channel's groundbreaking royalty deal with Big Machine is still sending tremors through the industry (RAIN coverage here). Two experts recently shared what they see as the takeaway from the new partnership.

Music industry attorney Steve Gordon writes in Digital Music News (here) that Clear Channel's deal is good news for Pandora and anyone else looking for more equitable streaming royalty rates. Clear Channel doesn't want to pay the "ridiculous" royalty bills that Pandora has now, argues Gordon, "Which means that instead of screaming bloody murder into the wind, Pandora now has the biggest ally imaginable."

Meanwhile, co-founder and Chief Operating Office of Triton Digital Mike Agovino writes in TechCrunch (here) that he sees Clear Channel "[leading] the way for traditional radio providers looking to go digital."

Agovino hopes more broadcasters will -- like Clear Channel -- start seeing digital as an opportunity, not a threat. "The key to making it online is working with the music industry to make that digital future a reality –- sooner rather than later."

Personalization should be "key company value," not just an "add-on feature," argues TechCrunch guest editorial

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 11:00am

Pandora's personalizationPersonalization is almost certainly one of the keys to the success of webcasters like Pandora, Slacker and others. Yet some, like Clear Channel's Bob Pittman, argue personalization is just a "feature" -- an add-on. Pittman even refers to his own personalizable radio service, iHeartRadio's Custom Stations, as a feature. It's "not what we do," he said recently (RAIN coverage here).

That's the wrong way to go about personalization, argues Baynote CTO and co-founder Scott Brave (Baynote is a provider of intent-based personalization solutions for multi-channel retailers). "The companies that win are the ones making personalization a key company value – not just a feature," Brave writes in an opinion piece for TechCrunch.

"Winning companies approach personalization as a core value of how they do business – a 'customer-centric' philosophy – rather than an add-on 'feature.'" Brave points to several examples of personalizable services beating out others: Flipboard vs. Yahoo! News, Google's Alfred vs. Opentable and yes, Pandora vs. other streaming radio options. 

"When Pandora allowed users to input their music preferences through both explicit selections and implicit actions to help shape their content stream, it changed the listening experience... After Pandora, just listening to the radio online seemed like a waste of time."

You can find Brave's editorial from TechCrunch here.

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