Saturday, December 20

Internet Radio/Music: an industry stuggling to find it's audience

So Pandora the music-recommendation engine just hit 20m registered users, with around 5m active uniques per month. This was press-released (via twitter). I am little disappointed with these numbers along with those of other favourites, and (I love by the way)

I was a big UK Pandora fan until the RIAA (or whatever they are called) stopped us listening :(

Anything on the internet has to be much bigger or much more targeted than it's offline equivalent to be commercially viable. It's a shame, I'd like to see recommendation-internet radio hit the mainstream and become a whole new industry. Until these guy's get scale, they're just not going to have the power to negotiate decent deals with the copyright holders.

MySpace Music (user playlist recommendation), according to the techcrunch article, are posting 17.8m users) so they seem to have the space for 'broadcast' radio advertisers already. But that's still small beer when one station on old Radio get's >10m concurrent listeners.

This intelligent 'music recommendation' space now seems to be getting superceded by 'user recommendations', like MySpace, in the form of playlists. The playlist is a natural evolution following the ipod craze that's swept the world. So is it too late for the clever guy's and their auto recommendations?

Short of the killer facebook/MySpace app that everyone must have, or getting embedded in Windows Media Player/iTunes, it looks like the "bigger audience" route is not going to happen for a while for auto music-recommendation. Perhaps a strategic partnership with Facebook might do the trick. Without this scale the revenue model for these guy's may be a little strained.

I am sure that (etc) have vast amounts of highly detailed info on what our individual music tastes are. They're the perfect 'seeding' network, the perfect place to create a word-of-mouth buzz around a new artist, new celebrity, new music videos, new concerts, events. For a marketeer of any of these things, to be able to place your relevant new artist, gig, etc in-front of 3,000 people who are a perfect match is like gold dust. It is cheaper than finding them offline, cheaper than magazine ads, flyposting... But is it enough to fund the business?

Music-recommendation engine streams needs to be a default tab in music players (WMP, iTunes...) fully integrated, catalogued, peer-rated music... so you just choose and hit 'play'. And, better still, make it a default addition to your social network profile, your iGoogle, netvibes. When it's just like the old-fashioned radio, turn it on and listen, then the numbers will could reach tens of millions.

For me, the web-players need to change the game and start competing with offline Radio rather than each other. The potential audience numbers can be much bigger online, the technologies are there, and users have an added dimension of being able to fine-tune the show to their tastes. Right now we are at the beginning. This can and will be a huge advertising supported industry. This space has room to grow!

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