Business Matters: Yahoo Music Says 'Yoo-Hoo!' (With 27 million Monthly Visitors)
-- What has 27 million U.S. visitors each month and seems to get less attention in the music business than many music blogs? Yahoo! Music.
Yahoo! Music did get some attention recently when it lost some executives, including John Lenac, head of label relations and programming. But Ken Fuchs, the vice president who oversees sports, entertainment, music and other verticals at Yahoo!, tells Billboard.biz the internal changes won't have an impact on Yahoo Music!.
"It certainly doesn't affect our mission and our ability to continue to build on creating a great voice on breaking news and original programs," Fuchs says, adding that Yahoo is "ramping up in video programming" such as interviews, video series, live and on-demand concerts.
Yahoo! had 171 million unique visitors from the U.S. in April, according to comScore. That footprint helps bring in lots of music lovers, says Fuchs, "We're able to drive traffic around big events, the water-cooler events that create conversation and create context for that conversation. It could be a big concert. It could be breaking news."
Major artists are a major draw. Whitney Houston had 20 million people interact with content around her death, and the live stream of her funeral drew three million viewers and was top 10 live streaming event in Yahoo's history, says Fuchs. Last fall's C linton Foundation Concert featuring Lady Gaga, Bono and Usher, among others, had over one million live streams and has since amassed over 20 million video streams and 13 million people interacting with the content.
The big footprint naturally draws in big brands, from Nissan to Unilever. Yahoo! Music's Ram Country is an ongoing section dedicated to country music and sponsored by Ram Trucks. Ram Country has exclusive videos and pictures from a slew of country artists. The newest participant in Ram Country is Rascal Flatts, whose May 26 performance for fans at the Grand Ole Opry will be streamed at Yahoo! Music on June 13.
The footprint can help developing artists, too. Fuchs says Yahoo! Music has always put music discovery at the core of its mission. "We try to do it in a fairly intimate way, through strong editorial, access to artists and, more and more, original programming and live performances that create a very unique canvas to perform and interact with their fan bases."
Two of the most interesting Yahoo! products are not specific to the music division but should benefit it nonetheless. One is the Yahoo! Social Bar, a social interaction tool that has more than 68 million total installs and approximately 40 million monthly users, according to the company. It's basically Yahoo!'s big entry into social media. Five million "reads" are shared from Yahoo! to Facebook every day, and Yahoo! says it has seen a nearly 300% year-over-year increase in direct referrals coming from Facebook.
Another product that could help Yahoo! Music and other divisions is the company's IntoNow mobile app. Acquired in April 2011, IntoNow uses proprietary audio fingerprinting technology that identifies what shows people are watching and delivers information and links to content on the second screen (the first screen being the TV screen). The free app has been downloaded over 3 million downloads across iOS and Android platforms.
IntoNow works with TV programs just like Shazam and SoundHound work with music. "You can be watching a football game or CNN or a live concert and it will understand and pick up the signal regardless of what's coming out of your TV and drop into an experience where you can get more information, you can interact with friends around that show," Fuchs says. "It's a great second-screen experience. It allows the user to get deeper, especially around big events like concerts or sporting events or the Grammys."
Fuchs says there are other mobile initiatives underway but doesn't get into detail. Instead he circles back to the company's overarching strategy of accessible digital content. "We really believe in being able to extend our experiences across screens and scale. So whether it's a concert with the National and Bob Wier that's fully available across all screens, or it's the Clinton concert or breaking news, we don't really care where you're accessing it from, we want you to be able to access it."
NME.com: Careful What You Read
-- Be careful what you read: NME.com posted an article Wednesday claiming the RIAA is seeking damages of $72 trillion from file sharing company LimeWire. The article was picked up by 411mania.com, the Onion's AV Club, Zeropaid and CBS, whose report got a link at the Drudge Report Thursday.
As a reference, NME.com linked to a March 2011 article at Computerworld.com about a District Court judge calling "absurd" the RIAA's request for full statutory damages of $150,000 for each of over 11,000 songs that were infringed. It makes for a nice, sensational headline. No wonder other outlets picked up on the story. Too bad the story was wrong and over a year late.
Unfortunately, NME.com's research failed to bring up news of the RIAA's May 2011 settlement with LimeWire for $105 million. Journalists who ran with NME.com's story didn't do their homework, either.
That makes two ridiculous articles in two weeks from NME.com. Last week the publication claimed U2 singer Bono was due to make $1.5 billion from Facebook's initial public stock offering. However, common sense and a little math show Bono probably made somewhere around $10 million - pretax - from the sale of Facebook shares by his private equity firm, Elevation Partners. He stands to make more when the remaining shares are sold. But since private equity firms typically take 20% of profits and return the remainder to investors, Bono cannot personally claim the entire value of Elevation Partners's stake in Facebook.
Pandora's Good Day or Two
-- Internet radio is an often maligned business, but Pandora Media made it look good - at least for a day or two - when it posted better-than-expected revenues for its first fiscal quarter, upped its guidance for the fiscal year and impressed some equity analysts. Shares rose as high as $12.30 Thursday and closed up 12.3% at $11.60. The company released earnings after the end of the trading day Wednesday.
JMP raised its target price to $16 from $14. Barclay's bumped up its target price to $10 from $9. "Pandora is simply too big to ignore," a Stifel Nicolaus analyst wrote in a note to investors, according to Reuters. "We continue to believe that audio is a great advertising medium for mobile devices."