SiriusXM launches ‘TikTok Radio,’ a music channel featuring viral hits hosted by TikTok stars

If viral TikTok songs like Dr. Dog’s “Where’d All the Time Go?” or Bo Burnham’s “Bezos I” weren’t already stuck in your head on loop, now they could be. Today SiriusXM launched a TikTok Radio channel, which features TikTok creators as channel hosts. The station is designed to sound like a “radio version of the platform’s ‘For You’ feed,” Sirius XM said.

SiriusXM, parent company to Pandora, announced this music channel in May, teasing the launch with curated Pandora playlists from influencers like Bella Poarch, whose lipsync video of Millie B’s “Soph Aspin Send [M to the B]” is the most liked video on TikTok.

With its TikTok partnership, SiriusXM is looking to capture a younger audience — on the TikTok app itself, DJ Habibeats (@djhabibeats) and DJ CONST (@erinconstantineofficial) will each go live on TikTok each week while DJing on TikTok Radio. Other creator hosts on TikTok Radio — like Billy (@8illy), Cat Haley (@itscathaley), HINDZ (@hindzsight), Lamar Dawson (@dirrtykingofpop), and Taylor Cassidy (@taylorcassidyj) — will deliver “The TikTok Radio Trending Ten,” a weekly countdown of songs trending on TikTok. To promote the station during its first week, artists like Ed Sheeran, Lil Nas X, and Normani will appear on air.

Music has such a strong footing in TikTok culture that it regularly influences the Billboard charts — Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours,” originally released in 1978,” appeared in the top 10 Billboard albums again in 2020 after it was featured in a viral TikTok. Even a Fortnite-themed parody of Estelle’s “American Boy” — originally uploaded in 2018 to YouTube  — had a beautiful moment on TikTok. 

“We’re so excited to launch TikTok Radio on SiriusXM, which opens up artists and creators like this amazing group of hosts to new audiences,” said Ole Obermann, TikTok’s Global Head of Music, in a statement. “Now SiriusXM subscribers will have a new road to discover the latest trends in music and get a first listen to tomorrow’s musical superstars. The channel captures song-breaking music culture that creates so much joy and entertainment on TikTok through video in an all-audio format.”

Though SiriusXM’s subscriber base continues to expand — it saw a 34% year-over-year growth from last year to now — it still dwarfs in comparison to streaming giants like Spotify, which has 165 million paid users. SiriusXM reported a total of 34.5 million subscribers as of Q2 this year, the most it’s ever had, but even Apple Music and Amazon Music have reported nearly double the subscribers. Pandora has 6.5 million paid subscribers. Over the last few years, SiriusXM and Pandora have struck deals with companies like SoundCloud, Simplecast and Stitcher to become more competitive in both music and podcast streaming. 

Still, other streaming companies have also shown interest in the market of Gen Z-ers on TikTok who want to listen to full versions of the catchy songs they hear in short videos. Apple Music and Spotify both host curated “viral hits” playlists. But a full-time satellite music channel is taking the trend a step further.

 

#apps, #artists, #creators, #entertainment, #media, #mobile, #music, #pandora, #radio, #siriusxm, #streaming-music, #streaming-service, #tiktok

Social listening app Earbuds raises $3 million in Series A funding

Most startup origin stories don’t begin on an NFL field, but that’s where founder, CEO and offensive tackle Jason Fox conceptualized the idea behind Earbuds. As he watched first overall draft pick Cam Newton warm up before a game in 2011, dancing to music, Fox couldn’t help but wonder what the future NFL MVP was listening to — and he bet that the crowd of 85,000 fans were curious too.

Ten years later, Earbuds has raised a $3 million Series A round for its social listening app, led by Ecliptic Capital with additional investment from the Andre Agassi Foundation and LFG Ventures.

Since its launch in 2019, Earbuds has allowed users — whether they’re famous artists, NFL stars or ordinary people — to share their favorite playlists, livestream music like a DJ and comment on other people’s music picks. Some notable figures on the app include the artist Nelly and professional quarterbacks like Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes, the highest-paid player in the NFL. Mayfield and Mahomes are also investors in the app.

With this recent raise, Fox and his team of six plan to expand the app to add creator monetization tools, incentivizing people to use the app. Plus, Earbuds also announced that it hired two former product and engineering leaders from Apple, David Ransom and Sean Moubry, who joined Earbuds as head of Product and head of Engineering, respectively. Tech veteran Drew Larner also came aboard as a senior advisor and investor — in 2015, he sold the streaming app Rdio to Pandora. Pandora was then sold to Sirius XM for $3.5 billion in 2018.

Image Credits: Earbuds’ interface allows users to search for athlete accounts/Earbuds.

To use Earbuds, users must have a paid account on Spotify or Apple Music. Soon, Fox says, Earbuds should have integrations with paid versions of Amazon Music and Pandora, too. These integrations are how the app, available on both iOS and Android, is able to source music for streaming. But regardless of which platform a listener uses, they can still take advantage of the social features on Earbuds, listening along to live playlists and commenting along with other listeners.

When you connect your account, you’re able to easily import your existing playlists. Then, on the app, you can add voice clips to comment on your song choices. When listening to a stream, users have the option to save the playlist to their streaming service or share it as an Instagram story.

Fox declined to share monthly active user numbers, but expressed confidence that soliciting users from other streaming platforms’ existing subscriber base won’t be a big hurdle for user acquisition; when it comes to paid streaming music subscribers, Spotify has 165 million users, Apple Music has at least 60 million and Amazon music has at least 55 million.

“We want to continue to add additional streaming partners to accommodate everyone. We want to connect with all users regardless of what platform they use,” Fox said.

Image Credits: Earbuds founder and CEO Jason Fox/Earbuds.

Fox wants more musical artists to use the app, but given his background as an NFL player, much of the company’s existing marketing has been targeted toward athletes and sports fans — a particularly interesting potential market for Earbuds is NCAA athletes, who are newly able to monetize their image and likeness. 

“You’ve got the quarterback before the big rivalry game, and they want to be able to monetize the fans while they’re listening to music and getting amped up with them before the game,” Fox explained.

Since these monetization tools haven’t rolled out yet, there’s currently no in-app purchases available on Earbuds. This would give Earbuds, which isn’t yet profitable, another income stream. So far, the app has made money through in-app sponsored posts from partners like the NBA, the NFL playoffs, smart speaker companies and beverage companies.

“We can continue to do that, but we feel like the majority of growth and revenue moving forward will be through partnerships, integrations and supporting the creator economy,” Fox said. Currently, Earbuds has a partnership with Apple Music, so if someone subscribes to the platform via Earbuds, Earbuds gets a cut of their subscription payment.

As streaming services like Spotify grow, social listening apps like Earbuds are emerging too. Spotify itself has rolled out more social listening features lately, including a Music + Talk platform similar to Earbuds’ existing offerings.

#amazon, #android, #apple-music, #apps, #artist, #earbuds, #ecliptic-capital, #music-streaming, #nba, #ncaa, #nfl, #pandora, #recent-funding, #spotify, #startups

Spotify expands its radio DJ-like format, Music + Talk, to global creators

Last fall, Spotify introduced a new format that combined spoken word commentary with music, allowing creators to reproduce the  radio-like experience of listening to a DJ or music journalist who shared their perspective on the tracks they would then play. Today, the company is making the format, which it calls “Music + Talk,” available to global creators through its podcasting software Anchor.

Creators who want to offer this sort of blended audio experience can now do so by using the new “Music” tool in Anchor, which provides access to Spotify’s full catalog of 70 million tracks that they can insert into their spoken-word audio programs. Spotify has said this new type of show will continue to compensate the artist when the track is streamed, the same as it would elsewhere on Spotify’s platform. In addition, users can also interact with the music content within the shows as they would otherwise — by liking the song, viewing more information about the track, saving the song, or sharing it, for example.

The shows themselves, meanwhile, will be available to both free and Premium Spotify listeners. Paying subscribers will hear the full tracks when listening to these shows, but free users will only hear a 30-second preview of the songs, due to licensing rights.

The format is somewhat reminiscent of Pandora’s Stories, which was also a combination of music and podcasting, introduced in 2019. However, in Pandora’s case, the focus had been on allowing artists to add their own commentary to music — like talking about the inspiration for a song — while Spotify is making it possible for anyone to annotate their favorite playlists with audio commentary.

Since launching last year, the product has been tweaked somewhat in response to user feedback, Spotify says. The shows now offer clearer visual distinction between the music and talk segments during an episode, and they include music previews on episode pages.

The ability to create Music + Talk shows was previously available in select markets ahead of this global rollout, including in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

With the expansion, creators in a number of other major markets are now gaining access, including Japan, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia. Alongside the expansion, Spotify’s catalog of Music + Talk original programs will also grow today, as new shows from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, India, Japan, and the Philippines will be added.

Spotify will also begin to more heavily market the feature with the launch of its own Spotify Original called “Music + Talk: Unlocked,” which will offer tips and ideas for creators interested in trying out the format.

#argentina, #artist, #australia, #brazil, #canada, #chile, #colombia, #france, #germany, #india, #indonesia, #ireland, #italy, #japan, #media, #mexico, #microsoft-windows, #netherlands, #new-zealand, #operating-systems, #pandora, #philippines, #podcast, #software, #spain, #spotify, #sweden, #united-kingdom, #united-states

Google hires former SiriusXM CPO/CTO to lead its Maps team

Almost exactly a year ago, Google announced a couple of leadership changes that saw Prabhakar Raghavan, who joined the company back in 2012, take over the lead of Search, Assistant and Maps. Now, sources familiar with the hiring tell us, the company has hired Christopher Phillips, who was previously the chief product and technology officer at SiriusXM, to lead its geo team, which is responsible for products like Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Maps Platform, the company’s enterprise business around these products. Google has confirmed his hire but declined to share any additional information. Phillips will officially join the company later this month.

Christopher Phillips

Image Credits: Christopher Phillips/LinkedIn

Phillips came to SiriusXM after the company acquired music service Pandora last year. Before the acquisition, he spent six years as Pandora’s CPO and head of Technology, a role he took after leading product and design for Amazon Music from 2012 to 2014 and executive roles at Workspeed and Intuit before that.

In his new role at Google, Phillips will lead both product and engineering for the Geo team and report directly to Raghavan, who will continue to oversee Search, Assistant, Geo, Commerce and Ads. Before last year’s leadership shuffle, Jen Fitzpatrick essentially played a similar role for the Geo team.

According to Search Engine Land, Dane Glasgow and Liz Reid became the leads for the Geo team after her departure. Glasgow has since departed Google and is now at Facebook, while Reid recently took on a new role to lead Google’s search experiences. That obviously left a bit of a vacuum, which Phillips will now fill.

While Phillips doesn’t have any direct experience in building geo products, he does bring with him extensive experience in managing product-oriented engineering teams. His hiring also comes at an interesting time for Google Maps, which only recently announced a number of major updates and which is becoming an increasingly important part of Google’s product portfolio.

 

 

#amazon, #artificial-intelligence, #assistant, #christopher-phillips, #computing, #facebook, #google, #google-maps, #intuit, #pandora, #personnel, #prabhakar-raghavan, #sirius-xm, #software, #tc, #world-wide-web, #xm-satellite-radio

SiriusXM partners with TikTok on a new music channel, Pandora Playlists, and more

SiriusXM is leaning into TikTok. The satellite radio company and Pandora parent today announced a partnership with the social video platform to power several new initiatives, including a TikTok channel on SiriusXM, hosted TikTok playlists on Pandora, and re-airings of Pandora LIVE events on TikTok.

The hosted playlists on Pandora are the first of the new initiatives to launch.

Starting today, popular TikTok creators will curate, host and promote their own Pandora playlists to their fans on TikTok, starting with Bella Poarch. The TikTok influencer, who now has 69.6 million followers, is best-known for her viral lip-sync video to “M to the B,” which blew up to become the most-liked video on TikTok. She also makes videos featuring singing, dancing, and gaming content, among other things, and this month released her first single, “Build a B*tch,” which has broken into Spotify’s U.S. and Global Top 50 charts.

As of the time of writing, Poarch’s TikTok announcing her playlists, launched 4 hours ago, has 187.6K likes and 1 million views.

Image Credits: SiriusXM

Other “TikTok Tastemakers,” as SiriusXM has dubbed them, will release their own playlists in the months to come, including Christian Shelton and Nick Tangorra.

In addition, Pandora users will be able to tune into the TikTok Hits Playlist at any time, which features popular and trending songs from TikTok.

Pandora is not the first music streamer to tap into TikTok’s influence for its own ends. Today, TikTok’s trends are driving songs up the Billboard charts and delivering Spotify streams as younger users look for their favorite TikTok songs on their preferred streaming music app. Spotify is now curating TikTok hits across editorial playlists like Viral Hits, big on the internet, Teen Beats, and others. Apple Music also got in on the TikTok action when it introduced 10 new playlists last year aimed at younger, Gen Z users. This included its own Viral Hits playlist, which pulls in top tracks from TikTok and other social media channels.

Among the other SiriusXM initiatives is the soon-to-launch TikTok Radio, a full-time music channel featuring tracks trending on TikTok which will be presented by TikTok creators, influencers and D.J.s. The channel will debut later this summer, and will stream across SiriusXM, including in vehicles as well as in the SiriusXM app for desktop, mobile and connected devices.

TikTok fans will also later be able to watch selected re-airings of Pandora’s original events series, Pandora LIVE — a continuation of Pandora’s live events that went virtual during the pandemic. Pandora LIVE events feature artists from across genres, including country, rock, pop, R&B and more, and have typically been re-aired, in part, the day after on SiriusXM.

Recently, Pandora LIVE celebrated Women’s History Month with a virtual event that included performances by Gwen Stefani and Jazmine Sullivan, which was re-aired on TikTok.

More Pandora LIVE events will soon do the same. SiriusXM says it will announce which events will re-air on TikTok throughout the year.

“We are excited to collaborate with TikTok to create new content that brings the vibrancy of the leading social networking service to life on live radio and our streaming platforms,” said Scott Greenstein, SiriusXM President and Chief Content Officer, in a statement. “The effect TikTok has on music, and pop culture in general, is undeniable. Our platforms will provide a unique opportunity for TikTok creators to engage with our listeners with content experiences that have never been done before in audio,” he added.

@bellapoarch✨ Excited to help launch ##TikTokTastemakers on @pandora ✨ Listen exclusively on ##PandoraMusic

♬ Build a B*tch – Bella Poarch

SiriusXM’s move to partner more closely with TikTok could help it to attract a younger set of listeners and subscribers, who may follow their favorite fans over to Pandora to tune into their playlist content. However, it’s unable to benefit from the full impact that working with TikTok could bring as the integrations are split across its two services, instead of being focused on just one.

Plus, SiriusXM, like others, still faces the looming threat of Resso, TikTok owner ByteDance’s own music streaming app that could one day make its way to the U.S., as part of its global expansion efforts. It has the potential to more closely tie TikTok’s music discovery features with streaming, impacting demand for rival services.

For the time being, however, TikTok sees the potential in partnering with a U.S. music streamer.

“We are excited to work with SiriusXM on TikTok Radio and to bring TikTok creators to Pandora to make the trends, music, and creative influences that are playing such a defining role in modern culture even more accessible,” said TikTok’s Global Head of Music, Ole Obermann, in a statement. “We’re really excited to see this come to life and thank the SiriusXM team for being such an innovative and visionary collaborator,” he said.

#apps, #bytedance, #media, #mobile, #music, #pandora, #playlist, #playlists, #sirius-xm, #siriusxm, #streaming-music, #streaming-service, #tiktok, #united-states, #viral

Instreamatic, which inserts interactive voice ads into audio streams, raises $6.1M Series A round

Interactive voice advertising startup Instreamatic, which can insert interactive voice ads into an audio stream, has raised $6.1 million in a Series A funding led by Progress Ventures led the round, joined by Accomplice, and Google Assistant Investments.

SF-HQ’d Instreamatic lets brands that advertise through streaming music apps and podcasts (for instance) have interactive voice-based dialogues with consumers. So instead of an audio ad playing in a one-way experience (as all adverts currently do), the listener can talk to, and interact, with the ad.

For example, when an Instreamatic advert says “Hello! Need help sleeping?” the microphone on the device it’s playing on opens, and the listener can respond however they like. If they say “Yes” then the brand’s voice (perhaps it’s a mattress brand) will respond with “Then we will sing you a lullaby”. If the user doesn’t respond then the ad experience is over and the content resumes playing. There are also more complex versions of this scenario. The key is that Instreamatic knows what happened and can tailor future ads to match the listener’s past engagement. Here’s an example.

The company says its technology can understand the ‘intent and tone’ of consumers’ natural responses to take the next action.

The upshot is that this AI-fueled voice ad could be coming to an audio stream near you soon. And with audio exploding following the pandemic, the platform is likely to benefit.

CEO Stas Tushinskiy, CEO, Instreamatic said in a statement: “Consumers don’t like being fed annoyingly repetitive ads. Brands are under ever-increasing pressure to make those moments meaningful while supporting strong ROI demands. On the publisher side, audio and video platforms need a better way to prove their audiences and ad inventory deliver their promise to brands. Our voice AI infrastructure, deployed by brands such as IKEA, Infiniti, and HP and across platforms like Pandora and Gaana, is empirically demonstrating that conversational marketing benefits brands, consumers, and publishers alike.”

Instreamatic says its voice ads can reach an average of 12% engagement, with some campaigns reaching 19%. These figures are quite unusual for the online advertising industry – the average CTR of mobile advertising is 0.6%.

The company says that a recent campaign by Infiniti saw 5.5% of listeners who declined the offer in the first conversation ask to receive more information about the vehicle after the second (and more personalized) chat.

Instreamatic also says it can achieve what it calls ‘continuous dialogues’ with consumers, not dissimilar to an Alexa or Siri device.

Because of the platforms complexity, Instreamatic also says it can build up a profile of the user based on an individual consumer’s previous interactions with a brand, allowing it to customize future campaigns.

So far brands that have used the platform include Pandora, Salem Media, Gaana (the Indian streaming music service), as well as a recent deal with Universal Electronics to expand voice ads into the smart-TV industry. It is also working with Triton Digital, one of the larger audio ad networks.

 
“Consumer demand for audio and video content, and the ubiquity of smart devices delivering that content on-demand, continues to accelerate,” said Nick MacShane, the founding partner at Progress Ventures, the venture capital arm of Progress Partners, a full-service merchant bank. “What hasn’t caught up is how brands and publishers can effectively engage those audiences in the same medium and analytically prove the ROI of their audio and video platform ad spend.”
 
A competitor to Instreamatic is AdsWizz, which, instead of voice, allows users to shake their phones when they are interested in an ad. But its interactions are obviously, therefore, more limited.

According to Juniper Research, the voice-based ad market will grow to $19 billion in the U.S. by 2022, growing the market share from the $17 billion audio ad market and the $57 billion programmatic ad market. Voice assistant usage is booming. Some estimates put it at over at 3 billion right, and half of all searches are expected to be done via voice. Some 55% of teens use voice search daily.

As well as Tushinskiy, the Instreamatic team also includes cofounder Simon Dunlop (former CEO/Founder of Bookmate, a subscription-based reading and audiobook platform, and Zvuk; Victor Frumkin (co-founder at Zvuk, a mobile music streaming app in Eastern Europe and Bookmate); Ilya Lityuga, CTO, one of the original team members at RuTube; and Andy Whatley, U.S. radio industry veteran.

#artificial-intelligence, #assistant, #ceo, #co-founder, #cofounder, #eastern-europe, #europe, #gaana, #hp, #ikea, #instreamatic, #juniper-research, #marketing, #mobile-advertising, #online-advertising, #pandora, #partner, #rutube, #sirius-xm, #smart-devices, #social-media-marketing, #tc, #triton-digital, #united-states, #voice-search

App stores saw record 218 billion downloads in 2020, consumer spend of $143 billion

Mobile adoption continued to grow in 2020, in part due to the market forces of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to App Annie’s annual “State of Mobile” industry report, mobile app downloads grew by 7% year-over-year to a record 218 billion in 2020. Meanwhile, consumer spending grew by 20% to also hit a new milestone of $143 billion, led by markets that included China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

Consumers also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone, the report found.

In another shift, app usage in the U.S. surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours on their mobile device.

The increase in time spent is a trend that’s not unique to the U.S., but can be seen across several other countries, including both developing mobile markets like Indonesia, Brazil and India, as well as places like China, Japan, South Korea, the U.K., Germany, France and others.

The trend isn’t isolated to any one demographic, either, but is seen across age groups. In the U.S., for example, Gen Z, millennials and Gen X/Baby Boomers spent 16%, 18% and 30% more time in their most-used apps year-over-year, respectively. However, what those favorite apps looked like was very different.

For Gen Z in the U.S., top apps on Android phones included Snapchat, Twitch, TikTok, Roblox and Spotify.

Millennials favored Discord, LinkedIn, PayPal, Pandora and Amazon Music.

And Gen X/Baby Boomers used Ring, Nextdoor, The Weather Channel, Kindle and ColorNote Notepad Notes.

The pandemic didn’t necessarily change how consumers were using apps in 2020, but rather accelerated mobile adoption by two to three years’ time, the report found.

Investors were also eager to fuel mobile businesses as a result, pouring $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year. According to Crunchbase data, 26% of total global funding dollars in 2020 went to businesses that included a mobile solution.

From 2016 to 2020, global funding to mobile technology companies more than doubled compared with the previous five years, and was led by financial services, transportation, commerce and shopping.

Mobile gaming adoption also continued to grow in 2020. Casual games dominated the market in terms of downloads (78%), but Core games accounted for 66% of games’ consumer spend and 55% of the time spent.

With many stuck inside due to COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines, mobile games that offered social interaction boomed. Among Us, for example, became a breakout game in several markets in 2020, including the U.S.

Other app categories saw sizable increases over the past year, as well.

Time spent in Finance apps in 2020 was up 45% worldwide, outside of China, and participation in the stock market grew 55% on mobile, thanks to apps like Robinhood in the U.S. and others worldwide, that democratized investing and trading.

TikTok had a big year, too.

The app saw incredible 325% year-over-year growth, despite a ban in India, and ranked in the top five apps by time spent. The average monthly time spent per user also grew faster than nearly every other app analyzed, including 65% in the U.S. and 80% in the U.K., surpassing Facebook. TikTok is now on track to hit 1.2 billion active users in 2021, App Annie forecasts.

Other video services boomed in 2020, thanks to a combination of new market entrants and a lot of time spent at home. Consumers spent 40% more hours streaming on mobile devices, with time spent in streaming apps peaking in the second quarter in the west as the pandemic forced people inside.

YouTube benefitted from this trend, as it became the No. 1 streaming app by time spent among all markets analyzed except China. The time spent in YouTube is up to 6x that of the next closet app at 38 hours per month.

Of course, another big story for 2020 was the rise of e-commerce amid the pandemic. This made the past year the biggest ever for mobile shopping, with an over 30% increase in time spent in Shopping apps, as measured on Android phones outside of China.

Mobile commerce, however, looked less traditional in 2020.

Social shopping was a big trend, with global downloads of Pinterest and Instagram growing 50% and 20% year-over-year, respectively.

Livestreaming shopping grew, too, led by China. Downloads of live shopping TaoBao Live in China, Grip in South Korea and NTWRK in the U.S. grew 100%, 245% and 85%, respectively. NTWRK doubled in size last year, and now others are entering the space as well — including TikTok, to some extent.

The pandemic also prompted increased usage of mobile ordering apps. In the U.S., Argentina, the U.K., Indonesia and Russia, the app grew by 60%, 65%, 70%, 80% and 105%, respectively, in Q4.

Business apps, like Zoom and Google Meet among others, grew 275% in Q4, for example, as remote work and sometimes school, continued.

The analysis additionally included lists of the top apps by downloads, spending and monthly active users (MAUs).

Although TikTok had been topping year-end charts, Facebook continued to beat it in terms of MAUs. Facebook-owned apps controlled the top charts by MAUs, with Facebook at No. 1 followed by WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram.

TikTok, however, had more downloads than Facebook and ranked No. 2 by consumer spending, behind Tinder.

The full report is available only as an online interactive experience this year, not a download. The report largely uses data from both the iOS App Store and Google Play, except where otherwise noted.

#amazon, #android, #app-annie, #apps, #argentina, #brazil, #china, #computing, #e-commerce, #facebook, #financial-services, #france, #freeware, #germany, #google, #india, #indonesia, #instagram, #japan, #kindle, #linkedin, #messenger, #mobile-app, #mobile-applications, #mobile-commerce, #mobile-device, #mobile-devices, #mobile-technology, #operating-systems, #pandora, #paypal, #pinterest, #roblox, #russia, #snapchat, #social-media, #software, #south-korea, #spotify, #the-weather-channel, #tiktok, #twitch, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #video-services

Stitcher’s podcasts arrive on Pandora with acquisition’s completion

SiriusXM today completed its previously announced $325 million acquisition of podcast platform Stitcher from E.W. Scripps, and has now launched Stitcher’s podcasts on Pandora across all tiers of the streaming service. The deal brings top Stitcher titles to Pandora, including Freakonomics Radio, My Favorite Murder, SuperSoul Conversations from the Oprah Winfrey Network, Office Ladies, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, Literally! with Rob Lowe, LeVar Burton Reads, and WTF with Marc Maron, among others.

On Pandora, the podcasts will be indexed using the company’s proprietary Podcast Genome Project technology. This system leverages  automated technology — like natural language processing, collaborative filtering, and other machine learning approaches — then combines that with human curation to make personalized recommendations to podcast listeners on Pandora’s app.

The podcasts will also continue to be available in the Stitcher app in North America, the company says.

The Stitcher acquisition brought with it several key assets, including its own mobile listening app, which includes a premium tier of exclusives, and the Midroll Media network for podcast advertising. Stitcher also creates its own original programs and runs multiple content networks, via Earwolf.

That means SirusXM gained thousands of top podcasts with the deal’s closure. The company also now claims it has the “largest addressable audience in North America” across all categories of digital audio, including music, sports, talk, and podcasts thanks to the combination of satellite radio service SiriusXM, streaming app Pandora, and now Stitcher.

The company believes the deal will help it to attract more creators to its platform, thanks to the enhanced production, marketing, and distribution capabilities it offers, following the deal’s close. Advertisers, meanwhile, will be able to more precisely target podcasts for better ad efficiency, and will gain access to improved measurements, says SiriusXM.

In terms of Stitcher’s execs, CEO Erik Diehn will now report to Scott Greenstein, President and Chief Content Officer of SiriusXM, who also oversees content at Pandora. Stitcher’s Chief Revenue Officer, Sarah van Mosel, will report directly to John Trimble, Chief Advertising Revenue Officer of SiriusXM.

“We are deepening our position in podcasting, the fastest-growing sector in digital audio, and with completion of this transaction, our vision is taking shape,” said SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer, in a statement about the deal’s completion. “With Stitcher and its varied assets, we are now a one-stop shop able to meet the needs of podcast creators, publishers and advertisers, while also providing listeners with access to great shows, series and programming.”

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, which disrupted many consumer trends and accelerated others, podcasting still remains one of the fast-growing digital audio industries. Podcast downloads returned to pre-COVID levels this summer, and Spotify reported that podcast consumption more doubled in Q2 and nearly a quarter (21%) of its active users now listen to podcasts.

Stitcher was not SiriusXM’s first acquisition focused on podcasts or ad technologies. It also bought podcast management platform Simplecast this June, and before that, it acquired AdsWizz for $66.3 million to power Pandora’s advertising efforts.

#apps, #media, #mobile, #pandora, #podcast, #podcast-advertising, #sirius-xm, #siriusxm, #spotify, #stitcher

Pandora launches interactive voice ads into beta testing

Pandora is launching interactive voice ads into wider public testing, the company announced this morning. The music streaming service first introduced the new advertising format, where users verbally respond to advertiser prompts, back in December with help from a small set of early adopters, including Doritos, Ashley HomeStores, Unilever, Wendy’s, Turner Broadcasting, Comcast and Nestlé.

The ads begin by explaining to listeners what they are and how they work. They then play a short and simple message followed by a question that listeners can respond to. For example, a Wendy’s ad asked listeners if they were hungry, and if they say “yes,” the ad continued with a recommendation of what to eat. An Ashely HomeStores ads engaged listeners by offering tips on a better night’s sleep.

The format is meant in particular to aid advertisers in connecting with users who are not looking at their phone. For example, when people are listening to Pandora while driving, cooking, cleaning the house, or doing some other hands-free activity.

Since their debut, Pandora’s own data indicated the ads have been fairly well-received, in terms of the voice format. 47% of users said they either liked or loved the concept of responding with their voice, and 30% felt neutral. The stats paint a picture of an overall more positive reception, given that users don’t typically like ads at all. In addition, 72% of users also said they found the ad format easy to engage with.

However, Pandora cautioned advertisers that more testing is needed to understand which ads get users to respond and which do not. Based on early alpha testing, ads with higher engagement seemed be those that were entertaining, humorous, or used a recognizable brand voice, it says.

As the new ad format enters into beta testing, the company is expanding access to more advertisers. Advertisers including Acura, Anheuser-Busch, AT&T, Doritos, KFC, Lane Bryant, Purex Laundry Detergent, Purple, Unilever, T-Mobile, The Home Depot, Volvo, and Xfinity, among others, are signed up to test the interactive ads.

This broader test aims to determine what the benchmarks should be for voice ads, whether the ads need tweaking to optimize for better engagement, and whether ads are better for driving conversions at the upper funnel or if consumers are ready to take action, based on the ads’ content.

Related to the rollout of interactive voice ads, Pandora is also upgrading its “Voice Mode” feature, launched last year and made available to all users last July. The feature will now offer listeners on-demand access to specific tracks and albums in exchange for watching a brand video via Pandora’s existing Video Plus ad format, the same as for text-based searches.

 

#adtech, #advertising, #advertising-tech, #media, #mobile, #music, #pandora, #streaming-music, #voice, #voice-ads, #voice-assistant

SiriusXM acquires Simplecast to double down on podcasts with distribution and analytics tools

Podcasting continues to see a strong trajectory in the world of streamed audio content, and today comes the latest development on that front. SiriusXM, owner of Pandora and backer of Soundcloud, said that it is acquiring Simplecast, a podcast management platform used by creators to publish and distribute podcasts, and subsequently analyse how they are consumed. SiriusXM plans to integrate Simplecast with AdsWizz, a digital audio advertising company that it acquired in 2018 for $66.3 million in cash plus shares to power ads on Pandora .

The company is not disclosing any of the financial terms for the Simplecast acquisition but we have asked and will update if we learn more. As a startup, New York-based Simplecast, which will continue to be led by its founder and CEO Brad Smith, had raised a modest $7.87 million in funding from investors since launching in 2013, per PitchBook data.

The deal is interesting because it is bringing one of the more popular independent platforms and set of tools used by streamers under the wing of a platform. Simpleccast’s many podcasts and users today include Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Netflix, Maximum Fun, Cloud10, QCODE, Anna Faris is Unqualified, Blue Wire, and Revision Path, who use it to distribute content over multiple, and sometimes competing, networks, including Apple, Spotify, Google and Overcast. (Business plans currently range in price and start at $15/month and go up to $85/month or more depending on podcast size, number of users, and features that you need.)

Pandora (with help from SiriusXM, which has a large and popular stable of talk radio shows on its channels) has been building up its own spoken-word content, of course, so there is a direct opportunity to push more on-demand podcasts to that platform in particular, as well as offer more interesting terms for doing so, as well as bring in a much wider spectrum of podcasts to run AdsWizz’s inventory, which currently is seen by more than 100 million people each month across the US and Canada (SiriusXM’s and Pandora’s footprint in vehicles, online and more).

We have asked SiriusXM if the plan will be to keep all of Simplecast’s services as-is after the deal closes.

What’s clearer is that, with SiriusXM also making a key investment in Soundcloud last year, the company is — like Spotify (which acquired a Simplecast competitor, Anchor, last year) — building up its music-business tools to complement its position as a content provider: this is a key role to play in the brave new world of digital music, where monetisation remains a challenge for most, and the tools to distribute, analyse and (yes) monetise one’s creative content continue to get more sophisticated, so much so that getting that part of the equation right can make or break an artist or wider creative or media endeavour.

“Our goal is to provide audio publishers with state-of-the-art platforms and give them everything they need to be successful,” said Alexis van de Wyer, CEO of AdsWizz, in a statement. “Empowering podcasters of any size to create, distribute, analyze, and monetize their work is the next natural step in pursuing our vision.”

“From the beginning, Simplecast’s mantra and mission was to remain laser-focused on podcast creators – building the best tools for publishing and insights,” said Brad Smith, the Founder & CEO of Simplecast, in a statement of his own. “The opportunity and alignment with AdsWizz allows our product — and our customers — access to a powerful monetization platform. Two best-in-class platforms are now able to align with the shared mission of helping publishers succeed, while each team continues to focus on their respective areas of expertise.”

#exit, #media, #pandora, #podcasts, #simplecast, #siriusxm, #startups, #tc

SiriusXM rises on Q1 earnings beat, but warns of coronavirus impacts to come

SiriusXM’s first-quarter 2020 earnings today painted a picture of what’s ahead for the music and entertainment service in light of the coronavirus outbreak. While the company surprised with both an earnings and revenue beat in the quarter ended March 2020, its satellite radio business also lost net subscribers due to declines in auto shipments, and the company spoke of further declines in ad sales and in customer responses to its marketing campaigns.

The company did manage to beat expectations in the quarter, reporting revenues of $1.95 billion, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 2.63%. And it saw earnings per share of $0.07 (a profit of $293 million), beating the estimate of $0.05 per share, and up from the earnings of $0.03 per share a year ago.

But the earnings beat comes at a time when even SiriusXM isn’t sure of what the future holds for its business — it withdrew its full-year 2020 guidance, citing the still unknown potential impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

Already there were hints of how that future may look, however. The declines in shipments from automakers offering paid trial subscriptions with a vehicle purchase led the company’s satellite radio business to lose 143,000 net subscribers in the first quarter. This is despite the addition of 69,000 self-paying subscribers, and saw SiriusXM ending the quarter with 34.8 million total subscribers.

The Pandora streaming music service, which SiriusXM owns, added 51,000 net new self-pay subscribers to its paid tiers, Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium. Pandora ended the quarter with over 6.2 million self-pay subscribers and 6.3 million total paying subscribers, including those who came in through other promotions.

Pandora ad revenue grew 4% year-over-year to reach $241 million in the quarter, which the company attributed to video programmatic and engagement-based video, its expansion of off-platform efforts and the fees from its AdsWizz platform — a 2018 acquisition.

But Pandora’s gross profit was down 5% year-over-year, to $105 million, as total costs of services grew, including those related to higher revenue share and royalties, customer service, billing expenses and more.

Then there were the expected declines related to the coronavirus’ early impact.

Though much of those troubles didn’t hit until March, SiriusXM warned that “auto sales, advertising, and customer responses to marketing campaigns all fell swiftly in the second half of March.”

That’s only a couple of weeks, mind you, which makes it seem like the company hasn’t really felt the full force of the pandemic on its subscriber growth, ad sales or total revenues.

“Automakers have idled plants, and dealers have closed their retail operations. New and used vehicle sales have declined sharply in recent weeks,” the company said in its earnings announcement.

Beyond that, the overall economy has taken a hit, with rising unemployment and other declines that could touch on SiriusXM’s business in other ways — including the cancellation of sporting events, postponing of concerts, travel declines and more.

“Unemployment is rising at historic rates as non-essential businesses have been closed and workers have been furloughed. Media spending by businesses has dropped sharply. To add to the uncertainty, it is unclear when an economic recovery could start and what a recovery will look like after this historic shutdown of the economy,” SiriusXM also warned.

The company says it expects to see declines in ad revenues at both SiriusXM and Pandora due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as declines in its satellite radio and accessory sales.

Despite all these issues, there are areas where SiriusXM could succeed, as the coronavirus quarantine stretches on — specifically, its exclusive entertainment offerings.

Today, there are already signs that people are looking for other options to keep themselves entertained in quarantine beyond just streaming Netflix endlessly. Nintendo is struggling to keep the Nintendo Switch in stock, thanks to hit games like Animal Crossing, for example, and even podcast listening is starting to recover from the initial coronavirus hit.

SiriusXM could easily cater to the growing demand for virtual events, where music and entertainment reaches consumers stuck at home.

The company has already done this to some extent — with its Ultra Music Festival, home performance from Garth Brooks, Home DJ series kicked off by Taylor Swift, broadcasts of nationwide events like the Jersey 4 Jersey benefit and more. The company also began streaming a COVID-19 news channel 24/7, in conjunction with NYU Langone Health. Plus, it still has Howard Stern…for now.

Plus, as quarantined consumers dig further into non-screen-based activities — like gardening, arts and crafts and cooking, among others — SiriusXM could establish itself as a service offering more than just your usual tunes and podcasts if it strikes the right tone with regard to its marketing efforts.

“Since the start of the global pandemic, our top priorities have been ensuring our employees’ safety and well-being, and continuing to support our subscribers and listeners by providing them the best entertainment, news, and information in the audio space. On both fronts, I’m pleased by our response,” said SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer, in a statement. “We are streaming SiriusXM for free, and we have been in overdrive introducing new shows, channels and special virtual moments,” he said.

SiriusXM also invested $75 million in SoundCloud in the quarter, in the weeks before the pandemic hit, which allows the company to reach 140 million North American listeners across SiriusXM, Pandora and SoundCloud combined.

SiriusXM’s stock is up 2.58% following its Q1 results.

#coronavirus, #covid-19, #earnings, #media, #music, #pandora, #siriusxm, #streaming