There appeared to be an overabundance of digital music streaming services before Apple’s iTunes Radio became a reality last week, so it stands to reason that a shakeout—if it wasn’t already on the horizon—could now be only a matter of time.
Well-positioned players such as Pandora, Spotify and Clear Channel-owned iHeartRadio are probably going to be able to absorb hits from the new Apple competition, said Paul Verna, eMarketer analyst, though names like Rhapsody, Rdio, Slacker, Mog and others could be in trouble during the coming months.
"ITunes Radio is going to disrupt the space," Verna explained. "People’s phones are their MP3 players these days."
Indeed, since consumers are becoming rapidly more mobile with their digital consumption, Apple could be in the cat bird’s seat with the iPhone. Per ABI Research, 294 million consumers will utilize Apple’s mobile iOS system—just updated last week with iTunes Radio packaged in—by year’s end. And to Verna’s point, a big chunk of those users are already listening to a digital streaming service on their iPhones, giving Apple marketers device-level opportunities to push iTunes Radio that competitors simply don’t have at their disposable. To compare, 13-year-old Pandora has some 200 million users, leading the pack, while younger Spotify, on the other hand, has more than 24 million.
Marketers for the Rdios and Slackers of the world suggest that Apple will create more awareness around streaming music—benefitting players on the scene from end to end.
"Across streaming services, you are seeing a tremendous amount of momentum," said Carter Brokaw, chief revenue officer for Slacker. "And I think Apple’s announcement has contributed to it. It’s brought a lot more notoriety to the idea of streaming radio being a very big and viable business."
Verna from eMarketer added, “An all-boats-rising scenario is possible. At the same time, it could be that Apple’s huge presence will take business away from others.”
Mark Simpson, president of digital marketing firm Maxymiser, was blunt when predicting iTunes Radio’s impact.
"It cannot fail to affect the space just because of audience," he said. "Any radio station is about audience. iTunes has a massive user base. Even if only 5 or 10 percent sign up, they are going to affect the on-demand radio stations that exist right now. I think we’ll see a shrinkage in the number of players, while iTunes Radio grows into a significant player quite quickly."
Apple can also put big advertising dollars behind iTunes Radio, Simpson noted.
"It is obviously in their best interest to make it be as big as they can," he said. "A TV commercial might not be totally dedicated to iTunes Radio, but the service might be part of a larger Apple ad that highlights various products. And through their other products and services—they can promote the hell out of this if they want to."
Yet the big winners could be brands that purchase digital radio platforms’ audio and display ads, said Lauren Russo, svp, director audio and promotions at media buyer Horizon Media.
"Greater competition in the space will lead to better pricing and/or value," she said. "But the digital audio platforms with the best content, user experience and scale will prevail."
While iTunes Radio may reshape the digital streaming business, the Apple product is far from a no-brainer at this point, other observers say. For instance, James McQuivey, principal analyst at Forrester Research, doesn’t expect iTunes Radio to race past Pandora or Spotify to the No. 1 position.
"Remember, even on its own devices, Amazon Kindle books are the most read eBooks despite Apple’s attempt to come in a change that business," he said. "That said, music is Apple’s original customer relationship, and it does a decent job of it so the service should be at least modestly successful, if not dominant."
Source: AdWeek (by Christopher Heine)
Like many app developers, Slacker has been eagerly awaiting this, the day of the unveiling of Apple iOS 7, which brings a sharp, flat new interface to Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, plus new multitasking features and other improvements and tweaks — around 200 of them, by Apple’s count.
Slacker’s overhaul for iOS 7 is more than cosmetic. The company has rebranded and reorganized its programmed stations as “My Vibe”, which provide music for certain situations, the way Songza’s “music concierge” does.
“Millions of songs and a search box isn’t a great listening experience – it’s work,” said Slacker chief product officer John Hayase. “Slacker’s team of passionate music curators has spent years creating hundreds of stations, countdowns, original programming and playlists to take the effort out of finding great music. And our new app for iOS 7 has been completely rebuilt to connect our users to the best listening experience anywhere, faster and easier than ever.”
Slacker, which launched out of stealth mode in 2007, began as a standalone device before finding a larger audience on the smartphone.
Songza, with over 4.8 million users each month, has shown that there’s a healthy demand for the sort of activity-oriented stations Slacker rolled out today as “My Vibe.”
In order to use the new version, users of the free, ad-supported Slacker or one of its many subscription options need to install iOS 7, and then grab the new Slacker app.
ARTISTS / LABELS: Distribute your music to Slacker Radio through ONErpm. Get started now!
Source: Evolver.fm (by Eliot Van Buskirk)
Today, the Bubble Wrap officially comes off of iOS 7, and with it iTunes Radio.
For consumers, iTunes Radio might feel like little more than a Pandora clone with different guts and a polished interface. For Apple, that’s all it needs to succeed.
Apple’s entry into the Internet radio space makes good business sense for the company, especially as the mere concept of selling digital music files is challenged by the rise of all-you-can-stream subscription upstarts like Spotify. Make no mistake about it: iTunes Radio isn’t about dethroning Pandora as much as it’s about getting you to buy more music.
Late yesterday, Deezer sent out a press release announcing the expansion of their services into Turkey. Read more about the launch below:
Today we are thrilled to announce that we have officially launched in Turkey! Now Turkish music fans will be able to enjoy unlimited music on Deezer, along with expert recommendations of the best local and international music from the Deezer Editors.
CEO of Deezer, Axel Dauchez, said: “Turkey has an exceptionally interesting music market, and the evolving digital infrastructures and mobile uptake in the region offer hugely exciting growth potential for our service. Music should transcend political and geographical boundaries in its ability to bring people together. Deezer is about bringing music to the whole world; music for everyone, everywhere regardless of the old distribution networks. This is why I am delighted to finally announce that as of today, Turkish music lovers from around the world will be able to enjoy and share a huge catalogue of international and local songs and artists they love – at home and abroad.
Deezer is a legal service that has secured rights from more than 2,000 labels and rights management companies from all over the world. This is something we take incredibly seriously, which is why we have spent time and resources in Turkey to do things the right way. Today we have finalized the necessary agreements with the right-holders associations. Now we are happy to be operational in a total of 182 countries. I welcome Turkey to the heart of music.”
Selen Zorlu, Deezer General Manager for Turkey, underlined the importance of providing Turkish music fans with a brand new musical experience: “We have been working towards launching in the Turkish market for the past 9 months. Today, following the agreements we signed with MSG and MESAM, we are immensely happy to officially present Deezer Turkey to all music fans in Turkey. We will be serving our ever-growing local catalogue and the music content curated and constantly updated by our large team of editors through our reasonably priced subscription offers. In addition, we are delivering the works of all new artists that are added to our local catalogue into our worldwide catalogue of over 25 million songs, therefore helping them to reach a much wider global audience, without any barriers.”
MSG Board Chairman Garo Mafyan published a statement wishing success for Deezer and added: “As MSG – the biggest representative of popular Turkish catalogue – we are very happy to see Deezer in the Turkish digital music market. We are confident that Deezer will dearly value the catalogue that MSG represents and will pay all royalties. Being sure that the local music market will benefit greatly by this venture, I would like to say welcome once again.”
In his statement, the MESAM Board Chairman Arif Sağ said: “We congratulate the legal digital music service provider Deezer with regards to its launch of service in compliance with Turkish royalties, and hope that this initiative proves beneficial to the music industry.”
ARTISTS / LABELS: Distribute your music directly to Deezer through ONErpm for FREE! Click HERE to get started!
Twitter #Music may not be the hottest music service on the planet but they’ve made some moves that should encourage more listeners to check them out. Recent activity includes creating a new Spotify app and adding playlists to Rdio to allow for listening from within those services. Less noticeable tweaks to their iOS app are a reminder of the social potential for this somewhat maligned service.
When Twitter #Music launched back in April it included integrations with Rdio and Spotify. Then, as now, short previews of songs are provided by iTunes with the option to connect to Rdio or Spotify to hear the complete songs.
Now instead of listening via Twitter #Music, you can listen to Twitter #Music picks from within both Spotify and Rdio.
Last week Twitter #Music debuted a Spotify app that looks much like its web app except for the inclusion of a visible logo from acquiree We Are Hunted that links to the “HUNTED” feature. The #NowPlaying option is not available on Spotify.
They then followed with the debut of genre playlists on Rdio based on Twitter #Music trending charts.
Both offerings are a great way to further develop the relationship with Rdio and Spotify while spreading awareness and accessibility for Twitter #Music.
The social aspects of Twitter #Music were also given a boost on the iOS app with, you guessed it, a stronger tie to Twitter. Each track in the #NowPlaying feed shows the connected tweet:
"When you select a song to listen to, the thumbnail will now expand and identify the user in your following list that originally tweeted about the song…it also gives you the option to reply, retweet and favorite their message."
"Furthermore, hitting the ellipsis icon brings up a basic share menu, either for tweeting about the track yourself or sending it to some[one] else via email or text message."To some degree these all seem like obvious moves but, partly because of that, they have a nice completing the circle quality to them.
Source: Hypebot (by Bruce Houghton)
As radio broadcasters go digital and online music services try to stand out in a crowded market, both are finding ways to scratch each other’s backs.
On Monday, Cumulus Media, which operates 525 radio stations, will announce a deal with Rdio, a subscription music service from the founders of Skype, that will give Cumulus an online outlet and help Rdio compete against more established players like Spotify.
In exchange for what it calls a significant equity stake in Rdio’s parent company, Pulser Media, Cumulus will give Rdio broad access to its programming and promote Rdio on its stations.
“This is our digital play,” Lewis W. Dickey Jr., the chief executive of Cumulus, said in a joint interview on Friday with Rdio’s chief, Drew Larner.
Crucially for Rdio, which was introduced in 2010 and has struggled to gain a foothold in the market, Cumulus will also sell advertising for a free version of the service in the United States. Rdio, which costs $5 to $10 a month and is available in 31 markets around the world, lets its subscribers listen to millions of songs, build playlists and interact with other users.
“The biggest challenge we face is really awareness,” Mr. Larner said. “We live in this bubble in which everybody is talking about this stuff constantly, but to the wider world, streaming is still relatively nascent.”
The deal between Rdio and Cumulus is a trade, with no cash changing hands. Further terms were not disclosed, but the value of Cumulus’s content and services is estimated at more than $100 million.
Cumulus operates stations like Nash FM (WNSH, 94.7 FM), the only country outlet in New York, and the rock station KFOG-FM in San Francisco. Last month, it announced a $260 million deal to buy Dial Global, which syndicates programming like NBC News and sports from the National Football League and the N.C.A.A. to thousands of stations; that deal is still subject to regulatory approval.
Cumulus will draw on its stations and syndicated shows to create playlists and other programs for Rdio users, stripping out localized details like traffic and weather.
That kind of content could give Rdio an edge against other services. But even more important is its ability to offer a free, ad-supported version to compete directly against Spotify. Cumulus will use its 1,500 sales agents around the country to sell commercials for Rdio’s free version, which is expected by the end of the year, and the companies will share ad revenue.
Rdio has never revealed its subscriber numbers, but they are believed to be far lower than those of Spotify, which has more than 24 million users, 6 million of whom pay. Yet recent studies of Rdio’s popularity in Google searches suggest it is faring well against other competitors like Rhapsody, Slacker and Mog.
Cumulus already supplies streams of its stations to Clear Channel Communications’iHeartRadio app, a deal that should continue through at least next year. But Mr. Dickey called that arrangement “a marriage of convenience” and said that the Rdio deal allowed it to do much more.
“We’re trying to be much more active in the audio ecosystem than just passively handing our streams over,” Mr. Dickey said. “That has severe limitations in terms of our ability to monetize.”
By moving to the so-called freemium model, Rdio is hoping to attract new customers who can be enticed into paying for premium service. That model has allowed Spotify to grow more quickly than its competitors, but it is still a subject of debate in the industry over how many people will ultimately pay for service when so much digital music is available free.
“It’s not that people don’t like streaming music,” said Mark Mulligan, a music technology analyst. “It’s that people are unwilling or unable to pay $9.99 for the privilege.”
Source: NY Times (by Ben Sisario)
Twitter’s #Music app made some noise when it first arrived in April, but it has largely gone quiet. The company is taking another stab at the effort, this time with a Spotify app that surfaces music popular on Twitter.
Much like the Web interface on Twitter’s #Music site, the Spotify app features sections for Superstars, Popular, Emerging, Unearthed and Hunted. Those first three categories are self-explanatory, but Unearthed finds “hidden talent found in the tweets” and Hunted shows music that’s popular on blogs. Each of the categories can be added to Spotify as a playlist.
The #NowPlaying feature is missing from the app, presumably because it would require authorizing your own Twitter account from within Spotify.
The app also includes featured genres: Alternative, Country, Dance, Electronic, Folk, Hip Hop, Metal, Pop, RnB and Rock, but it’s not clear whether all of these lists have been generated from Twitter data.
As you’d expect, Twitter prominently displays artists’ @usernames throughout the app and includes links to view on Twitter.com.
This doesn’t mean that Twitter has given up on its dedicated #Music app for iOS. Last week, the app got an update that added the ability to interact with tweets located within the #NowPlaying section, following a significant updatethat appeared in August.
Twitter’s new Spotify app plays to its strengths. I’m much more likely to make use of #Music from within Spotify than as a standalone app or website. Twitter has plenty of data that can be helpful, but that information will work best in cooperation with dedicated music services. In this sense, #Music could thrive as a powerful music data platform, similar to The Echo Nest, that provides recommendations and discovery for consumer streaming services.
Source: The Next Web (by Josh Ong)
Microsoft announced today that it has launched Xbox Music on iOS and Android devices worldwide, expanding the number of devices that the music streaming service is available on, as it becomes a serious contender to services such as Spotify and Pandora.
The iOS app is available in the App Store, but the Android version hasn’t yet arrived on Google Play.
It also rolled out free streaming on the Web to all, which means you can simply visit its website to start listening to free music. You get the unlimited amount of free Web streaming for the first six months, after which the number of hours will be limited for free but unlimited with a paid subscription.
Microsoft will also add its Radio feature to the free Web plater later this year, which is a way to personalize your music collection and create playlists based on your favorite artists.
ARTISTS / LABELS: Deliver your music to the Xbox Music service with ONErpm! Get started HERE!
Source: The Next Web
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the day I quit my software job. There was nothing wrong with my job; it was rewarding and I liked it, but “information architect” was not my calling. I didn’t want to sit at a computer all day. I wanted to make music.
I’d played the cello since I was 8, but my fears — of rejection, of performing in front of an audience, of poverty — had stymied my attempts at making a living from music. Then I turned 31, and I was suddenly more afraid of the regrets I’d have if I didn’t try.
The first couple of years I did the usual pay-your-dues hustle. I paid the bills by playing with the cello-rock band Rasputina, and I performed my own music for free, touring in a VW camper and selling a home-recorded CD at shows and on my website.
In previous decades, this unsigned, DIY approach was considered a temporary steppingstone on the way to a record contract. If an artist wanted to grow beyond her hometown, she needed the resources, relationships and reputation of a label. That’s how an artist got on the radio, got press coverage and got albums into stores. Record labels were the gatekeepers, and without a contract, an artist couldn’t get very far.
By the time I came along, the Internet was already changing the power dynamics of the music industry, but the most fundamental shift for me came in 2003, when iTunes opened its doors to unsigned artists. Any artist could sell music and get the same percentage deal from Apple as the record labels. CD distribution was still difficult and the old problem of how to get anyone to pay attention wasn’t solved, but an unsigned artist could now sell music alongside bestselling artists in the largest digital music store in the world.
As soon as my first album was ready, I submitted it to iTunes. It took five months to appear (in part because an upload script had rejected my submission because of the umlaut over the “e” in my name), but during that frustrating waiting period, I got some nice national media attention and, when the album finally went live, sales were immediately good. It went to No. 1 in iTunes Classical and stayed in the Top 20 for so long I stopped paying attention.
Every week the antiquated record industry trumpets its sales figures and the even more ancient media industry repeats them. And to say they’re unimpressive is to say you took the family goat to prom.
Let’s look at Imagine Dragons.
They’re a top 10 act selling 25,000 records a week.
25k a week? That’s positively anemic in a country of 300 million. That’s like asking us to be impressed that you made $2.50 at the lemonade stand. In a county where movies debut in the double digit millions every week, it appears the music industry is a joke.
But it’s not.
Oh, you can point to the 1.25 million records Imagine Dragons has sold in nearly a year, but how impressive is that? There used to be a diamond award given for 10 million sales on a regular basis at the tail end of the last century.
Have people just given up listening to music?
No! It’s just that the industry keeps pointing people to lame metrics.
On Spotify, the supposedly rip-off system with no traction, Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” has been spun 122,988,750 times. Put that number in the paper, it’ll wow people! It’s almost unfathomable — it’s got too many commas for most people to be able to interpret. And the band has another track at over 50 million and two in the 30 million play range.
These numbers are spectacular!
This is not your daddy’s record business. Only it is. Everyone’s pointing to the wrong number, and the acts are complicit.