Spotify’s quest for world domination is continuing.
The top on-demand, streaming-music service is set to launch in eight new markets, including Mexico, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, the Baltics, and Iceland, according to a person familiar with the situation. The rollouts could come as soon as tomorrow.
Adding territories has been a top priority for Spotify, which is racing to boost its user base. Spotify, which launched in the U.S. just over a year and a half ago, now has 24 million active users, 6 million of whom are paying subscribers. It’s become the fastest-growing digital music company ever, and is second in reach only to Internet radio company Pandora. With the additional markets, Spotify will be in 28 territories in all.
Growth is key for a number of reasons. The company is trying to negotiate better terms with the music labels, which earn the bulk of every dollar — roughly 70 percent — that Spotify brings in. The more Spotify is paying to the music labels and publishers, the better its position at the negotiating table. Spotify is already the label’s No. 2 source of digital revenue behind Apple, and CEO Daniel Ek has said his company is on track to pay rights holders $500 million this year alone — the same amount the company paid out in total since launching in 2008.
Yet competition is growing — and fast. The big tech titans — including Google, Apple, and Amazon — are all gearing up soon to add streaming-music services of various sorts. So the quicker Ek and his team can open new markets and build the brand, the better.
Adding new markets requires its own set of negotiations. Each new territory requires new deals with music rights holders, something that Ek has said is Spotify’s biggest limiter to growth. In addition, these new services — both for mobile devices and PCs — will be in local languages.
Spotify has amped up its marketing efforts in recent weeks as it seeks to build its name among mainstream music fans. The company last month launched its first-ever TV campaign, and last week it rolled out an ad across the top of YouTube, which has become the go-to site for young people to listen to music.
Source: CNet (by Paul Sloan)
Shazam — the smartphone media discovery app that is expanding from music into TV and advert discovery with the help of chief product officer Daniel Danker poached from the BBC – today announced a partnership with Indian music service Saavn – the self-proclaimed Spotify of India – to add Shazam’s recognition engine to Saavn’s catalog of South Asian music. Although Shazam is already used by 300 million people across 200 countries, it says that the Saavn agreement is the biggest deal yet for the company in the subcontinent.
Saavn, like Spotify, offers an ad-supported digital music service with more than 1 million tracks of Bollywood, Indian and regional South Asian music in its catalogue. The company recently launched a mobile web version of its music service, targeting the vast numbers of data-enabled phones in India and South Asia that lack the ability to run smartphone apps. Last year Saavn — already available in Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu — added an English language version of the service to compete with Spotify and other Western digital music services, many of whom have yet to launch in South Asia.
“It represents the largest partnership we’ve done in this region and they will help us provide our music fans with an amazing discovery experience,” said Will Mills, Director of Music and Content for Shazam, on today’s announcement. The deal will be exclusive for a period of time, which should help Saavn in its bid to compete against other music streaming services in the region, which include Eksur and Gaana. The Indian music industry is currently growing at a rate of 60% annually, with mobile music growing 17.6% in that time, and some of that is not domestic. “The expanding Indian-American population, which has jumped by 69% over the last decade, has a median income that is nearly double the national average of $49K/year,” notes Shazam.
Saavn itself in January said it had 10 million monthly active unique users accessing its 1-million-track library.
That library of 1 million tracks has already been merged into Shazam’s existing database of 27 million tracks. For Shazam’s 300 million users the partnership should improve the app’s ability to identify songs from the growing Bollywood music genres, while making Shazam a more appealing proposition for Indian smartphone users.
Saavn’s CEO, Vinodh Bhat, described the partnership as an “exciting evolution in our ability to both provide an enjoyable listening experience as well as provide an enjoyable discovery experience.”
Source: TechCrunch (by Oliver Smith)
For music fans, a mobile phone doesn’t say, “Call me.” It says Call Me Maybe.
Carly Rae Jepsen’s viral hit is one example of how phones, social media and streaming have revolutionized music consumption.
With 119.8 million streams, Jepsen’s viral hit was the most streamed song and video of 2012. The singer has 5.6 million Twitter followers and 5.2 million “likes” on Facebook. A lot of those admirers connected with her via cellphones, a crucial social conduit between fan and artist, according to The Entertainment Consumer: State of the Media Report, to be issued by Nielsen next week.
Via phones, 55% of consumers read artist and band Facebook posts, 53% “like” posts, 30% comment on posts and 28% click on timelines. In the Twitterverse, 26% of fans read artist tweets and 14% retweet.
“It’s the entertainment portal,” says David Bakula, senior vice president of analytics at Nielsen Entertainment. “You’ve got a much more engaged consumer and many more opportunities for artists and fans to interact. Word of mouth used to be one-to-one. Now it’s one-to-many, where each fan becomes a micro-marketer.”
Streaming has proven effective as a promotional tool: 29% of consumers are likely to buy music after hearing a stream. Among sites, YouTube continues to clobber the competition with 129.3 million streams in 2012, up 1%; Pandora trails with 14.9 million streams, up 5.2%; and Spotify, gaining ground with a 91.2% spike, tallied 10.2 million streams.
YouTube’s slight growth doesn’t portend a plateau.
“I don’t foresee any flat-lining,” Bakula says. “We’ve seen nothing but acceleration and growth. YouTube has become a more popular consumption channel than radio.”
Other Nielsen findings:
Source: USA Today (by Edna Gundersen)
Spotify today confirmed to TechCrunch that it has finally completed the rollout of its new social following features that model music discovery after offline behavior — where you find songs through tuned-in friends and influencers. Here’s our hands-on demo and review of Spotify’s move to discovery through actual humans instead of algorithms.
Back in November, I wrote that sources told me Spotify planned to launch a Twitter-esque following feature for music discovery. Then at a flashy event in New York featuring performers like Frank Ocean and an after-party with Vampire Weekend, Spotify officially unveiled its “music graph.” But the rollout has been slow, and the redesigned Discover tab and instant previews features aren’t yet available to everyone. But influencer following is, and it’s a big step up for the on-demand music service.
Discovery is Spotify’s biggest problem. Its search box can be paralyzing. When you can listen to all the world’s music, where do you start? Spotify’s answer is “with what your favorite artists and most music-savvy friends are listening to” through the new Follow tab plus revamped profiles and an activity feed.
By now you should have received a prompt to update to Spotify version 0.8.8. When you fire it up the first time, you’ll get walked through the Spotify Social on-boarding. Congratulations, you’re now automatically following the artists you listen to most and people whose playlists you’ve subscribed to (though you can ditch them if you want).
Next, Spotify recommends you follow some Facebook friends, in contrast to the old version where your feed was clogged with listening activity from all your friends. This update makes a lot of sense, since just because you’re friends with someone doesn’t mean you respect their musical tastes. If you dig pop, don’t follow your hipster friends. If you aspire to be the first on your block who knows about the new buzz band, follow music blogs or buddies who live in London.
Finally, you’ll see suggestions of artists and influencers to get updates from, including bands like Pearl Jam, news outlets like Pitchfork, and celebrities like Mark Zuckerberg or Barack Obama. The process is breezy and doesn’t default you into too many connections. If you’re ever looking for new people to get recommendations from, you can click on the Follow tab in Spotify’s left navigation side.
Google’s YouTube, the entertainment industry’s longtime “frenemy,” is emerging as an important component of record label plans to adapt to consumers who are taking their music mobile.
A part of the streaming-music service that Google is aiming to launch this summer is a new YouTube product that would be designed for the desktop and mobile devices, according to a person familiar with the negotiations between Google and the major labels. Such a mobile offering, coupled with the powerful YouTube brand, could ignite the nascent streaming-music business, now led by Spotify for on-demand music and Pandora for Internet radio.
Warner Music Group inked a licensing deal with Google late yesterday, and talks continue with Universal Music Group and Sony Music, according to sources. The negotiations are part of a broader discussion between Google and the labels about launching two types of streaming-music services — one that’s part of Google’s Android music platform, Google Play, the other that’s part of YouTube. The broader plan, first reported last month by the Financial Times, was spelled out yesterday in a Fortune article.
YouTube music for mobile would include a combination of free offerings and subscription plans, sources said, though what the product would ultimately look like is still unknown. Some top music execs say they have yet to see it, and deal-makers are working out just what and how much should be available for free to consumers. While it’s logical to think Google is trying to bolster its dominant Android business, music industry sources say Google is pitching this as a service for all mobile platforms.
If YouTube gets the rights to offer a powerful free streaming service on smartphones, it could be a game changer for music streaming. Streaming services accounted for an estimated 10 percent of all digital music revenue last year, according to a report released last week by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, and the music labels are banking on rapid growth. (Importantly, streaming has so far not hurt purchases on the dominant Apple iTunes Store, according to people at the labels.)
Google is digging deep to court the labels. Part of what Google is offering is to pay a fat, upfront fee for rights to their catalogs, according to a source familiar with the talks. Google, of course, has plenty of cash, and unlike the independent streaming services, it can afford to cut less-favorable deals upfront, since selling music isn’t its primary business.
A YouTube representative didn’t respond to questions about the potential mobile offering. YouTube confirmed in a statement that it’s exploring the streaming business, saying that “there are some content creators that think they would benefit from a subscription revenue stream in addition to ads, so we’re looking at that.”
Only Spotify subscribers can call up music on their phones — for now.
After teasing a heavy dose of discovery and social features, Spotify is gradually rolling out its ‘Follow’ tab to users on the desktop.
We first revealed these upcoming features back in December, and now Spotify has informed us that its follow tab is already available to some, and will roll out in stages. For now, there’s still no sign of the discover tab — the other half of the company’s big announcement back in December.
As we’ve previously detailed, Spotify’s People tab will be replaced by the new Follow tab, which features basic profile details and recommendations. As far as Facebook is concerned, Spotify’s integration had previously been limited to the right sidebar, but now it’s easier than ever to connect with Facebook friends and follow them separately on Spotify.
“Separately” is key — Spotify doesn’t seem to plan on riding Facebook’s coattails forever. Facebook independence is particularly important for Spotify, as relying solely on Facebook has recently proven to be a terrible idea.
Back to the news, here’s what users will now start seeing (via our earlier look):
Here’s what Spotify’s People tab previously showed for us. Yes, it was useless:
Back to the Follow tab, as shown in the top screenshot: My Facebook friends using Spotify have been highlighted randomly, and below it, Spotify has recommended musicians as well. The service also decided to auto-follow musicians I have starred.
Here’s what my profile looks like now, followed by the original design for comparison’s sake.
Note the addition of Recent Activity and follower counts.
Friends and musicians are now integrated together and may be able to interact with each other, recreating a bit of Myspace’s old magic from its prime. Here’s what the musician profiles look like:
The above artist, Kendrick Lamar, was recommended to me in the right sidebar and features a verified check mark similar to what you’d find on Twitter. For most other artists, that mark wasn’t yet present.
As for Spotify’s Discover tab, you can take a peek at what we’ve learned so far here. Today’s release follows news of Spotify’s updated iOS app.
Source: The Next Web (by Harrison Weber)
7digital — the streaming and download music company that offers a direct-to-consumer service but also partners with the likes of Samsung and Pure to power respectively its Music Hub and radio services — on connected devices like smartphones, tablets and music players, today announced a significant international expansion into the emerging markets of India, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and South Africa, where it says it has now inked deals both with major as well as independent labels to further expand its catalog of 22 million tracks in 42 countries. The expansion helps 7digital further take on Apple’s iTunes and also means that London-based 7digital has stolen a march on Spotify, which is in 26 countries, including much of Europe and the U.S., but yet to hit emerging markets.
The move underscores the shift we are seeing in growth of mobile services from more saturated markets like the U.S. and Europe to more nascent opportunities in less developed countries — and reflects the same shift we are seeing among hardware makers to target users in these countries. Samsung is currently the world’s largest smartphone maker, making devices on the world’s most popular smartphone platform, Android.
“We’ve seen strong growth in mobile throughout 2012, and believe it will become the largest platform for music in 2013,” Ben Drury, CEO of 7digital, said in a statement announcing the news. “The natural route for us is further international expansion in territories where we’re seeing strong mobile growth.”
7digital says that requests for music via its API have grown 137% in the last year and now tally at 13,500 per minute. We have reached out to Spotify to ask how this compares with their traffic at the moment.
While 7digital continues to offer a direct-to-consumer service, 7digital’s growth has largely been down to the popularity of its partner’s services (and devices). In addition to Samsung and Pure, it powers music services, including streaming, discover and purchases, for RIM, Toshiba, HP, Acer, HTC, T-Mobile US, Ubuntu, Shazam, Last.fm, Winamp, Songbird, HMV, Waterstone’s, Universal Music, EMI, Warner Music and Sony.
As with Spotify, one of the fastest growing countries for 7digital at the moment is the U.S., where it has seen 180% growth in the last year — riding on the popularity of Samsung and Pure devices. Canada at number-two at 117% growth, Switzerland at 79%, France at 70% and Italy at 60%. It notes that some territories have seen year-on-year growth as high as 600% (but doesn’t specify which region that is).
It’s notable that this growth matches with countries with strong smartphone usage already, so the challenge — as it is for all companies that target emerging markets — is whether 7digital will be able to repeat those patterns in markets where smartphone usage is less prevalent, and where users may have less wallet share for digital music services and mobile data to consume them.
And in the absence of players from the U.S. and Europe like Spotify and (until now) 7digital, emerging countries have seen the rise of local companies offering the same services, e.g. Saavn, the “Spotify of India.”
Another partner of 7digital’s, Sonos, uses the music streaming company’s technology to power music purchases, and the service is also available on smartTVs.
Source: TechCrunch (by Ingrid Lunden)
Pandora Radio, Spotify, iHeartRadio and Slacker Radio are in a tight race for your music dollar. All have evolved beyond their origins, offering more flexibility and additional features for your listening pleasure. Which to pick? See all four of these online music services compared here.
While Pandora holds the line as a pure music discovery service, our three other contenders offer additional services. For instance, Slacker and iHeartRadio have live-streaming terrestrial radio stations, and Spotify offers an enormous music library and the ability to share playlists.
Pandora has by far the biggest user base (65.6 million), while Slacker trails with only 4 million. But Slacker — which launched a redesign on Wednesday, boasts hand-picked song matches instead of those based on an algorithm. Not to mention it has nearly 10 times the number of songs Pandora has in its library.
Then there’s Spotify, eight years younger than Pandora. It has the largest song library of the whole group (20 million) and still brings in an impressive 20 million users.
In the competitive market of online music streaming and discovery apps, which service will win this hotly contested battle? That’s hard to say at this point, but the biggest winners in this competition will be music listeners.
Which one is the best? It depends on features what you’re looking for, such as custom radio stations, paid tiers and song selection. Take a look at the table below, and you’ll get a good idea of what’s offered by each service, and then you can compare them directly with each other.
Let us know in the comments which music service you think is the best, and why.
Source: Mashable (by Charlie White)
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Here’s another data-point for the mobile-first digital music services bandwagon, from Scott Bagby, head of strategic partnerships at Rdio: “Mobile is key for us. Over 80% of our users are mobile.”
Bagby was speaking to Music Ally as Rdio launched the free tier of its service in the UK, offering people up to six months of free, metered web listening.
Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden in Europe and Australia, Canada and New Zealand elsewhere are also getting the free tier, which debuted in the US last year.
It’s an attempt to widen Rdio’s funnel to attract people who can then be upsold to its monthly subscriptions for web-only and web+mobile access.
“The seven-day trials weren’t enough to get people to really understand the product and get into it,” says Bagby. “Education is what needs to happen. Some people get it right away, but at the end of the seven days, others are still trying to figure out what streaming services are, and why they should pay the extra £5 or £10.”
Rdio hasn’t published figures for its free and/or paying users, leading to a perception within the industry – probably accurate thus far – that it’s still small compared to rivals like Spotify and Deezer.
Even so, Rdio has won warm praise for the design of its service, particularly its mobile and tablet apps. Hence the mobile emphasis, which was the focus of Rdio’s advertising campaign in the US in the fourth quarter of 2012. Bagby talks about “significant onboarding” as a result of that.
Marketing is a key challenge for any streaming music service: how do you raise awareness that you even exist, let alone explain the ins and outs of the streaming music model? What are Rdio’s plans outside the US?
Expect a mixture of physical billboards, traditional advertising, digital campaigns and FM radio partnerships, with the latter having been encouraging in the US according to Bagby – even though on-demand streaming theoretically competes with radio.
“The radio partners seem to be a good line of attack, as that’s where people go to learn about music and hear discussions around music,” says Bagby. “It’s where labels traditionally go to break bands, so it seems like a good place to go to break services.”