Pandora this week unveiled a redesigned website that includes a variety of new HTML5-enabled features designed to provide what it says is a more comfortable look and feel for listeners, and more real estate for advertisers to market their brands. According to a company statement, a new centralized content area accentuates each ad execution by increasing the space and immersing the user via an integrated "skin" for campaigns. Additionally, the modern page design scales to provide more creative possibilities for advertisers with additional ad formats. Furthermore, ads are integrated seamlessly across the entire site, and smooth platform parity between web and mobile makes it easier to execute cross-platform audio and visual ad campaigns. Plus, video ads have been upgraded to a larger, full-screen video overlay. "All the great advertising options enabled by the HTML5-based site redesign lets us execute even more creative and targeted ads at scale with highly measureable results for our partners," said Pandora Chief Revenue Officer John Trimble. "Advertisers can further leverage the Pandora personal radio experience to connect directly with listeners and tap into the passion music evokes." [Full story: Paid Content]
Internet Radio Sees 21% Year-Over-Year Ad Revenue Growth
The Interactive Advertising Bureau reported this week that online digital audio listenership has driven close to 21% advertising growth in the first quarter of 2011 compared with the same period last year. Demonstrating widespread acceptance among marketers, the segment pulled in a significant number of major advertisers, including nine of the top 10 automakers, restaurants, and retailers. The IAB also reported online radio users were more likely than the general Internet population to act on advertising, as TargetSpot data indicates 18% of listeners visited an advertiser's website, compared to only 11% of all web users. Mobile also is a tremendous growth opportunity for Internet radio, as the report found that 45% of Internet radio users are listening on a mobile device - with 84% of them listening to 1-3 hours per day. IAB's report covered online streams from terrestrial radio stations, purely online radio stations, personalized streaming audio services (such as Pandora and Spotify), and music or other content delivered within a different site or application (such as in-game music services). [Full story: Net NewsCheck]
Slacker To Offer ESPN Programming To Music Listeners
As the Internet radio playing field grows increasingly crowded [and competitive], Slacker this week announced a deal with ESPN Audio to begin providing sports talk programming to its Internet radio listeners. The partnership, which Slacker claimed is the first of its kind, is a direct move to set the company apart from Pandora, Spotify, and other online digital music services. Slacker's objective is to offer sports programming that can be personalized so listeners to the company's free radio service will become paying subscribers - a key aspect of company's business strategy. "Sports are a big part of daily listening activity," Slacker SVP Jonathan Sasse said in a statement. "For people who are already subscribers, this enhances the service. But for the people who do listen to the free service and have never found the right reason to subscribe, if they're big sports fans, this could be the thing that gets them to do that." Listeners using the free Slacker basic radio service will have access to advertising-supported ESPN programming, while Slacker subscribers get the programming ad-free, and can insert an hourly SportsCenter update into any Slacker music stations they listen to or create. [Full story: Sign-On San Diego]
Facebook To Announce New Myxer App To Create Music Chat Rooms
According to Tech News Daily, Facebook today [Sept. 22] will announce at its f8 conference a new app from Myxer Social Radio designed to "bring friends together through music as they listen at the same time in rooms they create, or that are created by their friends." Once the app hits the site later this year, users can log in and see which friends are also using the service. Similar to Pandora's streaming service, Facebook friends can join different listening rooms or channels based on musical artists. Myxer also allows anyone in the virtual room the opportunity to discuss each song and even record a "Song Story," a 30-second video where someone can explain what the song means to them. "We see this as an opportunity to bring people together through music and enhance the experience of music through social content," Myxer's CEO Myk Willis told TechNewsDaily. "No matter where your friends may be, the app can bring people and music together. By adding social context to music with features such as Song Stories, it's like hearing songs for the first time through someone else's ears. This is more about strengthening social connections with real friends than a tool that will be used to meet new people. Digital natives enjoy interacting with their friends and this gives them another way to connect as they listen to music." [Full story: Tech News Daily]
eMusic Survey Reveals - Surprise! - That Ownership Of Music Is Key
eMusic last week released a research study that reported a strong appetite among many music fans to "own" digital music, despite the growth of various all-you-can-hear streaming platforms. There's no question that eMusic, whose business model is based on music ownership, is biased here, but the study does question a growing presumption that "access-based" music services [e.g. Pandora, Slacker, Last.fm] eventually will replace "ownership" services [iTunes, eMusic]. The eMusic survey of 1,000 music fans [some of whom use eMusic, and some who do not] reports that 91% said they preferred to own tracks because there were no limitations on listening, while 86% said they felt ownership offered more security. Three out of four [76%] said they used streaming services to discover and sample music that they might then buy and, presumably as a result of that fact, 74% said they wouldn't pay to access streaming platforms. Additionally, 79% said they didn't see themselves ever giving up downloading MP3s and relying on streaming services only. [Full story: The CMU Website]
Rhapsody Quietly Expands Platform Into Social Media
While Pandora, Spotify, and iHeartRadio have been attracting the lion's share of media attention lately, Rhapsody has been relatively quiet as it has developed a dedicated online platform designed to expand its base of 800,000 paid monthly subscribers. As noted by Digital Media Wire, the most obvious change is the integration with Facebook Connect, which allows Rhapsody members to explore the musical tastes of Facebook friends, even if those friends aren't Rhapsody subscribers. It also provides sharing buttons to "like and link" music and playlists and post music-related status updates, putting those activities into members' Facebook news feeds. Additionally, members can create a Rhapsody profile with a custom URL so other members can view recently played songs and playlists, and play songs through Rhapsody directly from a profile, as well as share via Twitter. "Rhapsody members can now tap into a music community that is 800,000 members strong to share, recommend, and find music," Rhapsody President Jon Irwin commented in a statement. "Our subscriber base is composed of people who are passionate about music and who influence their friends' music tastes. Now they can connect to and influence like-minded people on Rhapsody, while sharing their musical discoveries with their friends on Facebook and Twitter." [Full story: Digital Media Wire]
Seeking Alpha: Best Buy's Music Sales "Stuck In The '90s"
Best Buy has a music problem. A big problem. And it could be getting bigger. As Seeking Alpha reports, the big box electronics store - which owns Napster and at one time sold a large number of low-priced CDs - "appears to be locked in a death-spiral." Further, this spiral has little to do with competition fromAmazon.com, Target, or Wal-Mart, as total CD sales dropped from 147 million in 2009 to 114 million in 2010 - and industry analysts project CD sales to drop a further 40% in 2012, as digital downloads take the lead. In fact, Seeking Alpha says Best Buy is suffering from a "retail music cancer" because - like Warner Music - the company's business model, with few exceptions, is stuck in the 1990s, dependent on such dying media as CDs and DVDs to draw customers into the store. From a retail perspective, Best Buy has three strikes against it: 1] Its music prices are not the lowest; 2] The in-store shopping experience is far from memorable; and 3] It's customer support, other than the paid "Geek Squad" service, is marginal. Seeking Alpha's bottom line: Think Circuit City. [Full story:Seeking Alpha]
Al Bell Presents American Soul Music
... And American Soul TV
If you're into classic and contemporary Soul, R&B, Blues, Gospel, Jazz, Hip-Hop Soul, Rap Soul, and Neo-Soul, we invite you to listen to Al Bell Presents American Soul Music. Former Stax Records owner and Motown President Al Bell personally has programmed this awesome radio station online, presenting your favorites from the 1960s and '70s [and some '80s], a lot of the best new music that's being released today, and some real gems you haven't heard in a long, long time. Come to www.AlBellPresents.Com and hear it for yourself!
And now...join us for Al Bell Presents American Soul TV here.