Weekend Perspective

Weekend Perspective: Week of Nov. 11 - Nov. 15

Friday, November 15, 2013 - 6:20pm

RAIN’s Weekend Perspective summarizes the week’s important events for a weekend catch-up, and revives your aching synapses for coming week.

NEW & BETA

Google Glass eases into music: Google’s streaming music service might be coming to the jazzy wearable computer.

MUSIC SERVICES & APPS 

Google invades Apple: Google’s All Access streaming music app drops into Apple’s iOS app store. RAIN publishes the first review. No big surprises, some omissions from the Android app. We explain why Apple will not reciprocate.

Songza and Songkick: Songkick adds tour-based playlists to the Songza listening app, one week after partnering with Spotify. 

AccuRadio kicks off Christmas: By building out a 49-station Christmas music portal. 

Deezer headed for U.S.: that’s what sources disclosed to Digital Music News. If true, in January Spotify’s main European competitor would elbow up against its stateside operation, too. RAIN analyzes the competitive music streaming landscape. 

SoundCloud turns five: On its fifth birthday the audio-upload site released impressive statistics. Twelve hours of content is posted every minute, and half of it gets played within one hour. 

ILLUMINATION

Connected cars: A new study indicates they are growing because of diagnostics, not infotainment. Interview with the iGR study author. 

YouTube is the music jukebox for teens: Nielsen released its annual Music 360 report. turns out radio is the preeminent music discovery platform, but teens listen to YouTube more than any other music source. RAIN talked to David Bakula, SVP of Analytics for Nielsen. 

Streaming erodes “album release” dates: RAIN examines the pre-release streaming phenomenon on iTunes Radio and elsewhere. It seems to be driving album sales. It certainly blurs the line that once separated an available album from an unavailable one. 

MONEY & BUSINESS

Pandora’s ads: RAIN interviewed Greg Cutler, who produces them. 

Spotify courting new investment: Spotify is already a highly-funded tech/music company. The new investment would nearly double its funding. 

Rhapsody losses deepen: A grim picture or Rhapsody financials was painted by RealNetworks, which owns 47-percent of the subscription music service. It’s been a rough fall for Rhapsody. Is a turning point at hand? Indications abound. 

Radio holding its own in local media revenue: A new study by BIA/Kelsey indicates solid share for radio, but only a tiny sliver of digital income. Chief economist Mark Fratrik shares his corrective prescription with RAIN. 

Pandora is a $5-billion company: That’s market capitalization, after a week of solid upward trading on Wall Street. 

BUSINESS & LEGAL

Spotify sued by a label: A British compilation label (Ministry of Sound) objects to Spotify users making playlists that mimic the label’s compilation albums. Legal action ensues; lawyers are baffled. 

Slacker and Time Warner Cable: A new partnership puts Slacker’s Internet radio service in front of 11-million TWC subscribers. 

OUTBURSTS

Beck joins the Spotify debate: the latest musician to complain about Spotify, dislikes both the royalty payouts and the sound quality of streaming. 

Weekend Perspective: Week of Nov. 4 - Nov. 8

Friday, November 8, 2013 - 4:10pm

RAIN’s Weekend Perspective summarizes the week’s important events for a weekend catch-up, and revives your weary frontal cortex for the coming week.

NEW & BETA

DAB+ in the Netherlands: The Dutch government has mandated nationwide switch-over to digital radio by 2017, and this week the infrastructure was completed, four years early. [READ]

Radio Search Engine: Michael Robertson’s new venture is a fresh way of interacting with radio. Instantly scan the global radio dial for any song or artist. RAIN reviews the site and talks with its creator. [READ]

MUSIC SERVICES & APPS

YouTube Music Awards: They happened, but nobody watched. Well, under a million, which is nobody by YouTube standards. [READA guest column by Jennifer Lane argues that the event tells a story of industry disruption. [READ

Rdio adds personalization: Long time coming, but Rdio now gets smarter about its users over time. [READ]

Non-U.S. service make gains: Bloom.fm and Deezer both reach user-growth milestones. Bloom has 500,000 users and Deezer surpassed 10-million. [READ]

Spotify and Songkick: Songkick adds concert and tour information that matches up with the Spotify user’s music collection. [READ]

ILLUMINATION

Triton Webcast Metrics for September: The monthly report came out this week, and RAIN provides four-year trend lines of webcast leaders, and year-over-year analysis. The charts tell a quick story. [READ]

Pandora audience metrics: The music-streaming service discloses its internal measurements at the start of each month. In October, listening was up, but listeners were down. Unsurprisingly, media commentary was mixed. [READ]

Weak weekly album sales: They reached the lowest point since 1991. RAIN commentary offers historical perspective on how the album has suffered as a product over 15 years, and whether streaming music hurts or helps. [READ]

MONEY & BUSINESS

iHeartRadio: The Clear Channel-owned listening platform announces a new head of programming, iHeart vet Chris Williams. At the same time, the service discloses that it has 40-million registered users. [READ]

Listn: The social music app gets $500k seed funding. RAIN reviews and analyzes the app, which collects the user’s entire music collection from all participating services, and fosters community. [READ]

OUTBURSTS

Billy Bragg criticizes labels: Part of the ongoing, diversified “Spotify debate,” singer-songwriter Billy Bragg posts a Facebook statement to fellow musicians. The problem isn’t Spotify, he announces, it’s the label contracts. [READ

RAIN Weekend Perspective: Week of Oct. 28 - Nov. 1

Friday, November 1, 2013 - 4:30pm

RAIN’s Weekend Perspective summarizes the week’s important events for a weekend catch-up, and revives your blasted synapses for coming week.

PARTNERSHIPS 

The Echo Nest partners with Getty Images: Music services that use The Echo Nest’s intelligence technology will be able to enhance their album art with artist and band photos. [READ]

Spotify partners with Tango Messenger: The alliance lets Tango instant message users to include 30-second Spotify music clips. You might not be familiar with Tango, but it’s a bigger service than Spotify. [READ

MUSIC SERVICES & APPS 

TuneIn reaches 100,000 radio stations: The TuneIn aggregation platform has aggregated up a storm: “The most radio stations ever in one place,” according to the press release. [READ]

Rhapsody introduces new features: RAIN reviews important additions to the Rhapsody music experience. [READ

SoundCloud reaches 250-million listeners: Take that, Pandora, as SoundCloud’s new emphasis on uninterrupted listening is bringing in new users. SoundCloud is now chasing YouTube’s 1-billion users. [READ

Pandora releases Android tablet app: RAIN reviews the essential features that exist in the new version across all devices. [READ

iHeartRadio updates features: The Clear Channel-owned platform gets into concierge-style programming, similar to Songza and Slacker, but with tongue in cheek. [READ

ILLUMINATION 

Edison Research videos show a “barrage of new” in connected cars: Seeking insight to how new-car owners are coping with modern infotainment systems built into digital dashboards, Edison Research produced video interviews with recent car buyers. RAIN interviewed president Larry Rosin. [READ]

Survey/Interview - iTunes Radio little threat to Pandora: Investment firm Canaccord Genuity surveyed Pandora users who have tried iTunes Radio, to get a picture of its existential threat to Pandora. RAIN interviewed the study’s author. [READ]

BIZ / LEGAL 

Swedish musicians threaten to sue labels over Spotify distribution: The musicians' argument is less with Spotify than with labels, and how Spotify revenue is shared with artists by those labels. RAIN untangles it. [READ]

Weekend Perspective: Week Oct. 21-25

Friday, October 25, 2013 - 5:10pm

RAIN’s Weekend Perspective summarizes the week’s important events for a weekend catch-up, and revives your blasted synapses for coming week.

 

PARTNERSHIPS

Clear Channel and Black River: The radio group added to its growing portfolio of partnerships with record labels. Details not disclosed, but this one likely follows the template of Clear Channels agreement with Warner Music Group: higher broadcast royalties, lower streaming royalties, artist promotions on radio. [READ]

MUSIC SERVICES & APPS 

iTunes Radio reaches 20M listeners: And media outlets indulge in fuzzy math by comparing iTunes Radio and Pandora audience metrics, which use different standards. [READ

YouTube music service: YouTube is the gorilla in the room when it comes to music services. Not formally set up for music, the platform is nonetheless rampantly used for music search and playback, especially by young listeners. RAIN analyzes whether YouTube would compete with itself by formalizing a music service. [READ]

Sirius XM disappoints subscribers: Unexpectedly and without explanation, Sirius XM dropped several popular Clear Channel stations. The satellite company’s Facebook page swarmed with malcontent. [READ]

...and raises their rates: In its quarterly call to Wall Street investors, Sirius XM (SIRI) showed off steep gains in revenue and subscriptions from a year ago, but also lowered guidance for 2014 and raised rates on subscribers. [READ]

Twitter #Music nearing the end: Not official, but reports have us believe that Twitter’s music no-quite-service, underdeveloped but sometimes fun, and only six months old, will be shelved. [READ]

Microsoft plays the Web: Xbox Music was updated, and one new feature struck us as unique and potentially disruptive: a way of building a playlist from any web site that mentions artists and bands. [READ]

Rhapsody courts CD buyers: The music service gives one-month free subs to CD buyers at Best Buy. It’s an interesting play for consumers who might not be converted from ownership to access. [READ]

Songza updates: The Songza app is prettified for iOS 7. [READ]

“This American Life” goes endless: The public radio program, hosted by Ira Glass, has an 18-year archive of shows. A new TuneIn stream plays them continuously, with zero interactivity, for total saturation. [READ]

British music service sailing for U.S.: That would be Pure Connect, which works seamlessly with Pure WiFi devices. [READ]

ILLUMINATION 

Jim Lucchese: The CEO of The Echo Nest, a music intelligence company, describes how it powers many of the features used by millions of people across hundreds of music services. [READ Part 1] [READ Part 2]

DASH conference: A two-day conference in Detroit scrutinized every aspect of the connected-car movement, from the viewpoint of radio, solution providers, automakers, aftermarket companies, car dealers, and disc jockeys. RAIN was there. [DASH Day 1] [DASH Day 2]

OUTBURSTS 

Dave Allen vs. David Byrne: It’s a blog-debate. Settle in -- each of these gentlemen is voluble on the subject of Spotify. [READ]

 

Weekend Perspective: Week of Oct 14-18

Friday, October 18, 2013 - 3:55pm

RAIN’s Weekend Perspective summarizes the week’s important events for a weekend catch-up, and revives your weary neurons for coming week.

DEVICES & TECH

In the suddenly exploding realm of wireless speakers, two new products landed in the market.

Sonos Play:1 - One of the best-known WiFi-speaker brands, Sonos, unleashed a new, lower-cost addition to the Play lineup. A $200 mono speaker cannot be called budget, but before this you had to dish out $400 for Sonos sound. The Bose SoundTouch, released last week, causes fiscal damage ranging up to $700 per. Sonos calls the Play:1 “Mini but Mighty.” [READ]

Revo SuperConnect - A WiFi-enabled home radio replacement that understands FM? Revo’s new unit seeks to keep all members of the family happy, pulling in digital FM signals and connecting to the home’s streaming capability. An important twist: the SuperConnect receives the Spotify Connect signal, the first radio so enabled. [READ]

PARTNERSHIPS

Rhapsody and Telefonica - The giant Spanish telecom company acquired an undisclosed (but clearly significant) stake in Rhapsody International, which operates mainly through the Napster brand. Early plans include launching the service to Latin American customers by end of November. Look for more deals like this, wherein telecom companies furnish music service to their locked-in users, and indie music service gain much-needed capital and muscular partnership. [READ]

Slacker and Univision - In a content & distribution deal, Slacker added five Univision terrestrial stations to its listening lineup, plus an exclusive co-produced program called Univision America. RAIN points out confused branding of Univision properties on and off Slacker. [READ] 

MUSIC SERVICES & APPS

SiriusXM: Nearly seven out of ten new cars have SiriusXM installed. The satellite company is pressing its auto advantage by offering cheap re-entry to lapsed subscribers. [READ]

Pandora Presents: The Internet radio station’s concert series stepped up to a new level with the announcement that Celine Dion would perform a sponsored concert this month. [READ]

NextRadio: The Emmis-owned NextRadio app was included in the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 last week, providing ground-up usage numbers. Forty-thousand apps were downloaded within a few days. NextRadio seeks to put FM broadcast listening into smartphones. RAIN calls up some history around that. [READ]

Xbox Music: Microsoft prepared an update of its ecosystem music service, corresponding with the release of Windows 8.1. Several feature improvements were prompted by user feedback. Like, you know, keep the playback panel in view while music is playing. Fixed. [READ]

Stitcher: The podcast listening app celebrated 12-million downloads, and a 20,000-podcast library of content. Stitcher competes in the quickly activating talk-audio space with iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and Apple’s podcast app. [READ]

Google Music: Google put its famous “I’m Feeling Lucky” button into its subscription music service. touching it generates an online radio stream based on your previous listening choices. It’s a fun and luxuriously lean-back feature. [READ]

ILLUMINATION

dot-RADIO what? - If you’ve been perplexed by the noise around the .RADIO domain extension, RAIN clarifies everything after a conversation with George Bundy, who is raising awareness of his concerns with how the domains might be regulated. [READ]

New Pew - The Pew Research Center added music listening to the cell phone behaviors that it regularly studies. Headline: 48 percent of cell phone users listen to music on them. [READ]

REVENUE & RATINGS

CBS’ new ad platform - CBS’s new Audio Ad Center, a self-serve ad platform that advances the trend toward programmatic ad buying. Jennifer Lane contributed RAIN perspective. [READ]

F# - The musically-named F# advertising service company developed new ad technology that acts as a branded playlist embedded in IAB-standard ad units. The hope is for massively increased user engagement. [READ]

Nielsen Audio: In the first methodology change since Nielsen acquired Arbitron, the ratings company planned to edge into online radio measurement. Intact reruns of broadcast shows will be included in Nielsen Audio ratings. [READ]

OUTBURSTS

David Byrne - The Talking Heads frontman issued a 2,200-word OpEd about Spotify, adding to the global discussion (argument? raging controversy?) about whether the music service is good or evil to artists. RAIN summarized Byrne’s high-altitude view. [READ]

Pandora CFO - Pandora’s new CFO, Mike Herring, held forth in a CNET interview in a frank discussion about Pandora’s business. He made oblique comments about the business failures of competing services that generated some gleeful virality.

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