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.
Apple is working on a new kind of “audio hyperlink” technology that would use audible or inaudible signals embedded in a music or other audio track to link out to other media, or to perform some function on the device when encountered. This would allow for devices like iPhones to perform a number of different functions upon encountering said hyperlinks, just like a user would when browsing the Internet and finding traditional ones.
Here’s a practical example: A podcast could embed said audio hyperlink, and then pause playback of the primary track when one hits, in order to either call back a specific segment from earlier in the podcast itself, or to open a second audio stream stored on the web and play that back, or even to open another app or call up a video or other website from the web. It could even be used to call up another application and activate a purchase activity, embedding e-commerce opportunities into audio, which would be perfect for deriving affiliate revenue from podcasts or for directing iTunes Radio users to app and music purchase opportunities.
Currently, Apple’s “enhanced podcast” format can do some of this, but it still requires that metadata be added and that the file be recorded in AAC format. This would put the relevant links directly into the audio stream itself, which would make it much more portable. The audio hyperlink can also be tied to some kind of input trigger, so that uses would have to tap their device, use voice input or otherwise activate a link before it actually works.
The invention has the potential to make audio files into something truly interactive, and better-suited to the multimedia-rich mobile platforms that exist today. Its obvious benefits would be for audio podcasts, but the tech could also be applied to things like music, video and even ringtones or other notifications.
This is one of those media format technologies that, even were it introduced tomorrow, would take quite a while to gain wide adoption, and might face challenges become very popular unless it were made into an industry standard. But it’s also an exciting invention that could change the way we interact with our computing devices at a fundamental level, so it’s definitely an area worth watching for future developments.
Source: TechCrunch (by Darrell Etherington)
The popularity of YouTube and other social media sites have turned even intimate concerts into collaborative video events. On the positive side, it’s convenient to log onto YouTube and occasionally see a decent-quality clip of a concert you missed, or a song a band previewed at a show. On the downside, it’s annoying as hell to try to watch a concert through a sea of arms holding their cell phones aloft like torches.
Recently, numerous artists from classical to classic rock have spoken out about fans that film concerts. Prince has banned cell phones at his shows; and, in April before a gig at New York’sWebster Hall, alternative rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs placed a sign on the door as fans entered the venue that read: “Please do not watch the show through a screen on your smart device/camera. Put that s*** away as a courtesy to the person behind you and to Nick, Karen and Brian.”
NME recently asked various musicians how they felt about fans filming concerts. Ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, who released his first solo album The Messenger this year, was the harshest critic.
"To stand there and just look at [a concert] through [a] phone is a completely wasted opportunity," he said — then became even more emphatic.
"I don’t mean to be unkind, but I think you should just put your phone down because you’re just being a d***, really. Just enjoy the gig. It’s a d*** job, filming a show. Let someone else be the d*** and watch it on YouTube.”
Most musicians interviewed by NME.com didn’t complain about the annoyance of phones held high or the money they’ll potentially lose from DVD sales. They seemed more concerned that those who are busy shooting a show don’t enjoy the most important part of being there in the first place.
"You’re really missing a sensory experience," Marr said. "One of the things about gigs is taking in what’s going on with people around you. Watching on a little screen – what a waste of time."
Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis agreed: “Part of the wider temptation [when you] go around an aquarium, is, instead of looking at the fish you take photos of the fish so you can show your friends and pretend you understand what a barramundi is. I think it’s better just to go and experience the gig.”
"I don’t know why they bother," added Alt-J keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton. "It’s going to look and sound really rubbish. And you’re hampering your own enjoyment of the gig by not concentrating on being there in the moment."
Some acts were more diplomatic. Fans with phones, they claim, are the least of their problems. “I have no problem with people making films at gigs,” said Biffy Clyro drummer Ben Johnston. “Almost everyone’s life is online all the time at the moment. We’re not one of these bands that’ll say don’t film us.”
Deap Vally drummer Julie Edwards took a free-spirited perspective on the issue. “I try not to hate anything people are doing at our gigs because I think hate is kind of a drag,” she said. “So I guess my message would people that people should be allowed to film if they want. What’s the big deal?”
Watch the full video here: http://www.nme.com/news/johnny-marr/71759
Source: Yahoo Music (by Jon Weiderhorn)
There are a lot of places to spend money on digital music, but all of them are dwarfed by iTunes.
If you spend any time at all thinking about the digital music business, you know that already. But it’s good to see it spelled out, courtesy of Asymco analyst Horace Dediu and Billboard’s Glenn Peoples.
Dediu, incorporating new numbers released from Apple yesterday, pegs iTunes music spending at $6.9 billion a year. Peoples, riffing off numbers provided by the music industry’s international trade group, pegs total consumer spending on digital music at about $9.3 billion a year.
In other words, Apple owns about 75 percent of the digital music market. Leaving the rest for a group that includes subscription services like Pandora, Deezer, Rhapsody and assorted retailers like Amazon.
That domination shows you why the music labels are still very eager to see anyone and everyone compete with Apple, as long as they can pay up for advances/royalties.
Conversely, the fact that Apple no longer has the digital music market entirely to itself, as it used to at the beginning of the iPad era, shows you why Apple is watching the advance of competitors like Spotify with a wary eye.
Apple doesn’t worry about making money from digital music, but it does benefit mightily from music’s lock-in effects. Or at least it used to. The more that platform-agnostic rivals like Spotify grow, the weaker that lock gets.
Source: AllThingsD (by Peter Kafka)
Twitter’s two major product launches 0f 2013 are heading in vastly different directions.
Vine is rising off the charts, growing from being on just one in 50 iPhones in January to being on more than one in 10 iPhones in May. In addition, Twitter just launched Vine on Android this month, where it already has as many as five million installs and over 25,000 reviews.
But #Music is another story.
When it launched in April, #Music popped to an early high of installs on 1.77 percent of U.S. iPhones. But in May, #Music users uttered a collected “meh” at the strung-together 30-second clips of trending artists on Twitter, dumping the app in droves. As a consequence, Twitter #Music’s iPhone “market share,” the percentage of phones it is installed on, fell to .45 percent in May, according to Onavo data:
That’s a 62 percent drop in the month after its launch, which isn’t good news for Twitter. At launch, the company said that Twitter Music would “change the way people find music.” That’s not exactly what’s happening yet, although perhaps a #music station on Apple’s upcoming iTunes Radio will help, and Twitter is expanding the team of people looking to build partnerships with artists, labels, and radio stations.
In a probably unrelated but not very positive move, Kevin Thau, the Twitter executive who launched #Music for the company, left the Twitter at the end of May to join Twitter cofounder Biz Stone’s new startup, Jelly.
It’s still very early days for Twitter #Music. But unless the entertainment product starts trending in the right direction, expect more changes soon.
Source: Venture Beat (by John Koetsier)
Soundhalo is a brand new service for taking live concert video recordings and transforming them into mixed single song videos for immediate sale. It’s an interesting hybrid that’s currently being offered as an Android app that allows purchases during the live show. DRM-free concert files are then available for viewing on any device. Sounds like a potential winner on impulse buys if Soundhalo can pull off some formidable challenges.
Soundhalo launched in beta at a performance late last week by Alt-J. People reviewing the technology seem impressed.
Chris Welch, writing for The Verge, described the process:
"Minutes after a song’s conclusion, a production team pairs video with audio pulled directly from the soundboard. Everything’s properly mastered before the final product is uploaded to the cloud, so you won’t have to worry about dealing with a harsh audio mix."
My understanding is that audio/video will be provided via the band and venue. Soundhalo will quickly turn the individual videos around and fans can preview the videos via their smartphones and decide to purchase them individually.
Alt-J’s songs went for around $1.50 each with the whole 16-song set being purchased for $9.00. Apparently the service automatically provides the whole set when you purchase enough individual tracks to cover the full-set price.
Nick Hide at CNET UK had some concerns about the scalability of Soundhalo:
“‘The Soundhalo production team take video and audio feeds directly from the venue,’ the startup explains, ‘and utilizing the fastest broadcast connectivity, delivers those files to the Soundhalo studio where mixing, mastering and grading take place by the expert ears and eyes of world class mastering engineers.’”
Without some kind of algorithmic solution, making each individual track quickly available seems really difficult. And the mobile app description does make it sound quick:
"Soundhalo is an evolutionary new platform that allows music lovers to buy, share and own artist endorsed live video and audio recordings as it happens. Fans can now purchase and download the actual performance as it unfolds, whether they are at the gig or on the other side of the globe."
The focus on a mobile app is interesting given that you then download DRM-free MP4 files that can be viewed on any device. And you don’t even have to be at the show if you have the app.
Soundhalo is launching with an emphasis on being closely tied to individual shows and the possiblity of impulse buys during the show.
Beyond that it’s a live video production and digital sales platform accessible via an Android app. So that emphasis makes quick turnaround particularly important in making the whole thing work. If they can pull that off, Soundhalo potentially becomes quite powerful.
Source: Hypebot (by Clyde Smith)
You no longer have to be Ryan Seacrest, Ne-Yo or Jason Mraz to play with Twitter’s new music discovery app. After testing the app with music artists and influencers, Twitter #Music will be available starting today at https://music.twitter.com and as a separate app for the iPhone through the App Store.
So what does the service do? Well, it does what you might expect from a music app from Twitter — it helps you find music that’s popular on Twitter and music based on the bands you follow. The app is centered around four pages or tabs, which you can swipe through to access.
The Popular page shows you new music that’s trending across Twitter while the Emerging tab shows “hidden talent found in tweets.” While those two parts feed you information about what the collective Twitterverse is jamming to, the last two focus on who you follow and your personal music taste.
The Suggested tab shows artists you might like based on the artists you follow on the service and who they follow. And finally the #NowPlaying tab shows songs your friends are listening to or tweeting about. For instance, if your friend tweets that they are listening to a song by Justin Bieber, that song will show up on that page.
The iPhone app, which “Good Morning America” got an exclusive early look at, has a slick and polished design. All the pages have a grid made up of artists and songs; tap one of those and the song will start playing along with a fun spinning CD animation in the bottom left corner. Tap on that and you get an enlarged CD — you can drag your finger around the CD to fast forward or rewind within that song.
And the fact that you don’t have to leave the app to listen might be one of the best parts. Twitter has integrated current music services like Rdio, Spotify and iTunes to allow you to play the songs right through the app or webpage. With iTunes, you will only hear a preview, but with Rdio and Spotify, users can log in with their accounts to hear the full tracks. Twitter says it will continue to work to add additional music providers to the app.
Twitter put artists and bands at the center of the experience. You can go to artist’s Twitter profile pages within the app and see what artists they follow and listen to. As Twitter says, it’s like getting recommendations from your friends, except they happen to be music superstars. You can search for artists through the search field and play a selection of songs from them.
Twitter announced last week that it had acquired “We Are Hunted,” a music recommendation and streaming company based in Australia. Twitter also released Vine, a dedicated six-second video app, in January.
"There are times when you need a single-purpose driven knife in the kitchen and there are times when you are out camping and you want a Swiss Army knife. We have different apps for different purposes," Michael Sippey, Twitter’s VP of product, said earlier this week at the "All Things D: Dive into Mobile" conference when asked about the different apps Twitter has been releasing. Last week Facebook released Facebook Home for select Android phones. Home provides a Facebook experience deeper than an app.
The Twitter #Music app will be out later today in the Apple App Store; there is no Android app yet.
Source: ABC News (by Joanna Stern)
Your music everywhere. That’s the focus at Amazon Digital Music these days. Much like the “TV Everywhere” concept being pushed by cable and satellite services, “your music everywhere” is what Amazon is hoping will resonate with its customer base, which straddles both the digital and physical music markets. As consumers move to digital, Amazon is trying to ease their transition, and the company has resisted the urge to double-dip into customers’ pockets by not making them repurchase already-owned music, potentially in favor of luring them with subscriptions.
"The ‘your’ in ‘your music everywhere’ is important," said Steve Boom, vice president of Worldwide Digital Music at Amazon, in a sit-down with L.A. Biz. The "your" emphasizes the ownership aspect of the music, which Boom noted is an important distinction given the increase in streaming services like Pandora and Spotify.
Boom is currently overseeing Amazon’s digital music group, which includes Amazon MP3 and Amazon Cloud Player. He has more than 15 years of experience in building global businesses and teams with a background in product management, engineering, sales, business development, marketing and operations. He was previously a senior vice president at Yahoo!, spending more than 10 years overseeing the company’s mobile business on a global scale.
The Verge recently reported that Amazon is in talks with record labels for a subscription service, but no formal announcement has been made. While all the heat has been on digital, Amazon still does a robust business selling CDs. Its largest markets are the U.S., Japan, U.K., France, Germany, Spain and Italy, and a full 70 percent-80 percent of the market in Japan and Germany is still in physical music sales.