Archive for the ‘music’ tag
Pandora took some heat after placing a 40-hour listening cap on its power users back in February, but the move seems to have created some positive results.
During Pandora’s fiscal year 2014 Q1 earnings report, the company revealed that it added over 700,000 new subscribers to its paid Pandora One service. The company now has 2.5 million paid subscribers total, and the increase for the quarter is more than it added during the entire previous year. Pandora attributes the subscriber growth largely both the listening hour cap and Android enabling in-app purchasing of Pandora One on mobile devices.
The subscription growth is interesting because it seemed like the listening cap, which was put in place to help Pandora control its content licensing costs, would sent some of its users into the arms of competitors. For instance, Slacker Radio told us it saw a huge boost in new user registrations since Pandora’s 40-hour cap began. But having heard outgoing CEO Joe Kennedy’s explanation on the earnings call, I can understand Pandora’s logic for the cap. The average Pandora user listens to about 20 hours of music per week, and is far more valuable from an advertising revenue standpoint than the users who consumed twice that amount of music.
Regardless of the paid subscriber boost, the company said it’s still firmly committed to focusing on its free, ad-supported service.
“We don’t look at [Pandora One] purely as a subscription service but rather as a paid option for our users that’s almost like a feature addition instead of a business line,” Kennedy said during the earnings call. “We will thinking a lot about in-app purchasing behavior, especially on Android. It’s changed the dynamic of how people look at paid listening as a preferred option.”
Pandora also reported a record number of listener hours at 4.2 billion for the quarter (a 35 percent increased over the same period last year), a 55 percent YOY increase in revenue to $125.5 million, and a larger share of all U.S. radio listening to 7.83 percent (compared to 5.86 percent last year). Investors responded positively to the earnings, too – pushing the stock price up nearly 9 percent to $18.68 a share in after hours trading.
Photo by Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat
Media discovery startup Shazam released a new version of its iPad app today that adds a ton of new features, boosting your ability to identify music, TV shows, and advertising.
Probably the most notable of these additions is the new auto-tagging feature, which allows users to keep the “tag” button on in the background. I spent some time playing with the new app this morning and found it to be much more accurate in tagging TV shows, as well as background music, while watching television. Flipping the channels around gave me a catalog of my viewing, too.
The app also puts a much greater emphasis on TV, with a revised interface that pulls in links to a show’s IMDb, Wikipedia, a list of all the music featured, and more.. This is in line with what new Shazam CEO Rich Riley said was in the pipeline for the company, as VentureBeat reported last month.
However, just because there’s plenty of opportunity to grow Shazam’s business in the realm of TV, that doesn’t mean it’s turning a blind eye to music. The Shazam iPad app will now include auto-tuning integration with two huge streaming services Rdio and Spotify. (Spotify does require a premium membership to hook up the Shazam integration.) There’s also a new mapping tool that shows which songs are getting tagged across the world.
The app is available for free in the iTunes App Store. For a closer look at the app itself, check out the demo video embedded below.
The world’s largest streaming music service Pandora is finally adding some deep integration with the world’s largest social network Facebook, thus giving its users a much easier way to socialize their musical activity with friends.
In addition to yesterday’s Pandora Premieres announcement, the new Facebook integration adds a helpful social layer to the streaming music service, and may help assure investors that Pandora is moving forward despite a grim business outlook ahead of tomorrow’s Q1 FY2014 earnings report. Previously, Pandora’s now former CEO Joe Kennedy testified at a congressional hearing to say that Pandora would be unable to sustain its business if music royalty rates weren’t lowered, (and it doesn’t appear that the rates will drop, either). There’s also the matter of increased competition in smart radio services from giant tech companies with lots of money to burn. Google recently launched its own Google Play All Access streaming radio service, while Apple and Amazon are rumored to debut similar offerings later in the year.
As for the new Timeline app integration, Pandora isn’t following other media companies that have provided deep integration with Facebook’s Open Graph, which allows people to see all of your activity from both the Facebook news feed and from an activity ticker. Streaming services like Spotify allow friends on Facebook to see songs you’re currently listening to, which I’ve never found very compelling.
Pandora’s Facebook integration is a bit different because it focuses on adding things to your Timeline under a music section. When people are exploring something Timeline page, they’ll see a record of songs played, favorite artists, and custom radio stations that others can then listen to. It also pops up in the Facebook news feed, but as a past event that behaves more like a news story than an activity. And determining exactly what listening activity you want people to see is pretty easy — meaning I can hide most of the random 90s slow jams that pop up. You can toggle the automatic sharing on and off as needed, which I can’t really say about the fire hose of activity offered by other music services that integrate with Facebook. Those sharing controls are also available on Pandora itself, too.
The new Facebook Timeline integration is available across all of Pandora’s applications and platforms (iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Pandora’s website, etc.) today, which rolled out today. Obviously, the company is committed to a more social Pandora experience, but the more interesting observation is in how it’s not at all trying to promote an increase in listening (or consuming) activity.
Media companies like Spotify, Viddy, Vevo, Ustream, and others all saw a “Facebook bump” in new users and time spent on their respective services after integrating with Facebook’s open graph. But that sort of move could actually hinder Pandora’ overall business strategy. It’s already one of the largest streaming music service almost to a fault, with 200 million total registered users and over 1.49 billion hours of music listened to per month.
Despite record growth without the aid of any “Facebook Bump,” the company said its unable to generate revenue and grow long-term profitability due to what it sees as unreasonably high music licensing fees. Those fees have forced Pandora to implement a 40-hour monthly music listening cap on users of its free, ad-supported service. Therefore it would appear that a large growth spurt would end up hurting the company’s bottom line since its advertising revenue isn’t able to keep pace with Pandora’s operational growth and increasing music licensing costs. But preventing the service from growing and attempting to lower the amount of interaction spent on it from its most loyal users seems like a very backwards strategy. But it’s worth noting that I don’t think Pandora’s Facebook Timeline integration is an attempt to do either of those things, but it’s also an addition that focuses more on current users than grabbing new ones.
However, we’ll have to wait until tomorrow’s earnings call to find out if recent developments (Kennedy’s departure back in March, the Facebook Timeline integration, and new unreleased album station Pandora Premieres) is enough to keep the company’s stock from taking a dip.
We’ve confirmed with Twitter that it has rolled out a new part of its #Music service for the web, charts that we were accustomed to from the company We Are Hunted, that it acquired and now powers the service.
The charts are broken up into a few areas: the familiar genre breakdown, as well as some categories like “Superstars” and “Unearthed” that appear to be built based on current Twitter trends and trajectory of artist mentions. This is leveraging all of the data that Twitter is collecting from tweets that include links to tracks from popular and emerging artists.
As you click on each category, the tiles on the page swap out quickly, letting you surf around to find new artists and songs. The categorization was a necessity to be able to find hidden gems, as the original breakdown of Popular and Emerging changed so rapidly:
These are the types of charts that will get artists themselves more engaged on Twitter, as well as catch the attention of record labels who want to know what people are saying about the musicians that they’ve signed. Everyone in a band wants to know how well they stack up against others. In fact, some artists didn’t see the service coming at all, and were pleased with all of the new attention they were getting.
The service, which is still finding its footing, is still in the mode of getting musicians to participate by getting on Twitter and engaging with their fans. That engagement gives them a better shot of shooting up the charts and being found. With the addition of charts, which music listeners are also familiar with, people will be able to go deeper in finding songs that fit the genre that they like the most. Rather than waiting for Twitter to pair you with matches that it’s taking a guess on, the power is now in your hands.
If you’re an Rdio or Spotify user, then the entire #Music experience is seamless, but if you’re only buying music from iTunes, you’re not getting to hear full tracks within the app. It’s going to take a while for #Music to grip, as are a lot of Twitter’s “discovery tools.” As the company onboards more people who aren’t interested in tweeting, just browsing, they will benefit from sites like #Music being broken out. For those who are actively tweeting, it’s kind of neat to imagine that your support through tweets could shoot a band or artist up the “charts.”
These charts aren’t available for the Twitter #Music iOS app but are available to everyone on the web today.
Streaming music service Pandora is launching a new radio station today that features songs from albums that aren’t yet available for sale.
The station, called Pandora Premieres, will featured a slew of unreleased music, interviews and other extra content from both established and emerging artists about a week before you can buy them via retail stores. The channel lets you listen to those songs as often as you’d like in any order, (so basically, its on-demand), and kicks off with music from John Fogerty, and Laura Marling. The content itself will get refreshed once a week, in which case you’ll have to either buy the album to continue hearing those previously unreleased tracks or wait for them to get played on your custom smart radio stations.
The move marks an important step in Pandora’s attempt to become just as vital to the music industry as the traditional radio stations were decades earlier. I’m curious about whether Pandora is paying for its users to play these tracks, or if Pandora Premieres is primarily a promotional vehicle that music companies can pay for to help sell new albums. And given Pandora’s problems with generating enough revenue, I’m guessing they probably aren’t paying for on-demand licensing, which is far more expensive than the digital radio fees.
If Pandora is getting paid for what it plays on Pandora Premieres (at least in part) by the music industry, then it could prove to be an extremely smart move, too — and one that traditional radio has turned into a source of revenue. This is also something that Grooveshark is exploring with the launch of their new Grooveshark radio service that debuted last month.
Navigating to the new station reveals that Pandora is maximizing its advertising by pulling in a sole sponsor, as you can see from the screenshot above. Beyond that, Pandora’s Tim Westergren only had this to say about the new station in a company blog post:
“Pandora Premieres is also a new and unique vehicle for artists, both established and emerging, to reach and expand their audience. Seeing the impact of Pandora on the careers of working musicians continues to be one of the most gratifying parts of this experience.”
We’ve reached out to Pandora for clarification about its strategy for Pandora Premieres, and will update this post with any new information we find out.
Are the guys from Lonely Island trying to say that marriage and kids are shortcuts to the grave? They sure don't seem too happy to be "grown-ass" men, maybe because they're starving for sex, wiping baby bums and visiting their own funeral plots in "Diaper Money," posted below. The video, released as part of YouTube's Comedy Week, also promotes the trio's latest musical effort, The Wack Album, due June 11. Look for more promos in the coming weeks.
Video is NSFW (language).
Does my music do better on Facebook or Twitter? Where should my next tour be? Is my new song too repetitive? Musicians can get free answers to these questions and more from BeatDeck, a Y Combinator analytics company launching today. BeatDeck plans to license this data to labels and music stores to help them sign and recommend tomorrow’s superstars. Yep, BeatDeck is an enterprise music startup.
Everyone (who isn’t a cold-hearted robot) loves music. That’s led lots of entrepreneurs to start companies aiming to help listeners discover new artists and songs. But the fact is that selling music is a tough business. Selling what music to listen on someone else’s service is even tougher. BeatDeck is different. It does nothing for the listener. Zero consumer products. Instead, it focuses solely on the music industry — the artists, the labels signing them, and the stores selling them.
The first part of the equation launches today on BeatDeck.com. Artists sign up and connect their social media accounts like Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Last.fm. This lets them track their performance and compare it across channels, as well as see their fans’ age, gender, and location demographics. Artists also get fan influence and sentiment breakdowns thanks to reputation measurement and natural language processing.
For even deeper analytics about their music, artists can share their songs to social networks through BeatDeck’s publishing system. This gives them a heatmap of which parts of their songs users are skiping to, pausing at, or rewinding to so they can listen again. Conversion metrics indicate which channels best turn listeners into fans, and where they’re getting reshared. It’s valuable data mosts indie rockers don’t have the skills or time to track by hand. It could tell them where to book their next tour date, which part of their song to pitch for commercials, and which social networks they should focus on.
That’s phase one. Soon, BeatDeck will start selling enterprise licenses for its data to record labels and A&R departments (the people who decide which artists a label or management agency should sign). BeatDeck will let them monitor their artists and find new ones to catapult into fame. “We’re already in talks and worked out a couple of deals for enterprise solutions” says BeatDeck co-founder Josh Mangel. He explains that with just six big customers, which would have to include most of the big record labels, BeatDeck can be a sustainable business.
“Sustainable business” isn’t what being a startup is all about, though. BeatDeck will need additional revenue streams to truly succeed. Luckily, I was able to squeeze out of Mangel that the company is working on making its data useful to online music stores. One day it could have iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon paying it to tell them whose music to recommend to you. BeatDeck could tell them that people who try to listen to screechy industrial dubstep hero Skrillex, but pause 20-seconds in, should be recommended a lesser known artist like Robert Delong who is somewhat similar but easier to listen to.
There are plenty of music stores out there that could benefit from these kind of insights. BeatDeck will be battling it out with fellow music analytics services Next Big Sound and Musicmetric. However, they charge artists to monitor their music, and most musicians can’t afford to pay. BeatDeck’s free analytics for artists could win it lots of sign-ups who will fill it with data it can sell. It’s going to be a long, hard road convincing independent musicians that they need analytics, and bundling their data into something lots of companies want to buy.
In the end, the hope is that BeatDeck can help fledgling artists grow and get noticed by the bigwigs. Mangel concludes, “Right now the business isn’t really fair. Artists are not getting big because they’re talented, but because they’re backed by a lot of money. We want to make the music industry a meritocracy.”
Google announced some fresh updates for Google Now today, consisting of six new types of cards that will show up in the automated, intelligent digital assistant feature for Android and iOS. The new cards include a location-based Reminder feature, public transit travel times, and information about books, music, TV shows and video games that might be of timely interest to users.
The new Google Cards Reminder feature is based on time, people and location and can be set with simple voice commands using natural language processing. It’s like the geofenced Reminders that are used by Apple in iOS, but looks to be arguably more useful since it ties into the Google Now knowledge graph. Reminders takes Now further by giving users a way to actively set and retrieve content, which should help prove its worth among users who weren’t getting much out of the automated results previously being generated by the engine.
The other new cards provide good, useful info for getting around town, but all the new media additions should also Google help drive Google Play sales. It’s a clever way for Google to begin using Now, its next-generation predictive search tool, to drive the kinds of revenue that it might be missing out on more and more as traditional desktop search advertising becomes a less lucrative area in the new mobile age.
After months of speculation and rumors, Google finally announced its own streaming music service called Google Play Music All Access today at its annual Google I/O developer conference.
“We wanted to build a music service that was focused on music where technology was in the background,” said Google’s Chris Yerga. “Choosing your music shouldn’t be such a chore.”
The service itself will compete with on-demand music services like Rdio and Spotify as well as Pandora and other smart radio services. The company apparently was able to wrap up negotiations with all the major record labels prior to I/O, but admittedly it is a bit odd that it chose a developer-focused event to make such an announcement. The service will also face plenty of competition from other streaming music services, as well as those from rival tech companies that are rumored to be launching their own offering.
“This is radio without rules,” Yerga said.
Google Music All Access will allow you to create a radio station from any song you’re currently listening to. It also lets you peer into the future of what’s scheduled to play within that station — and in a move that’s not like any of the other music services, Google will let listeners get rid of music within those stations that they don’t like. The algorithm then changes to fit your revised musical tastes on that selection.
Google already has a streaming music offering in its “Google Music” service, which allows users to upload their entire library of digital songs to the web where they can be played from anywhere, or “pinned” for offline listening on Android devices. That service is also heavily connected the Google Play store that sells music, among other things.
The new service, which is available today, will be $9.99 per month in the U.S., and will give everyone a free 30-day trial. If you sign up by June 30 you’ll be able to get it for $7.99 per month. Unlike many of its new competitors, it doesn’t look like Google will be offering a free tier of the service, which lines up with rumors that we’ve heard in the past.
Google launched All Access music streaming service today, first leaked yesterday, that seeks to bring customized radio stations, on-demand streaming and the user’s stored music library into the same interface.
Chris Yerga, the engineering director for Android, called the service “the best of both worlds: your personal library blended with ours.”
The all-in-one service works on desktop and mobile devices. It allows users to import their music libraries or select songs to stream. Any song can also be used as the basis of a Pandora-style radio station. The service uses the user’s previous listening to generate recommendations, which can be sorted by genre.
The service, which is live, costs $9.99 per month in the United States after a 30-day free trial. Users who begin a free trial on or before June 30 will be be locked in at a promotional rate of $7.99 a month. iOS devices cannot access the service, however.
All Access music will roll out to additional countries “soon,” Yerga said. Google also plans to build similar interfaces for books and movies.
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