Grooveshark's Facebook Activity on the Rise
-- Grooveshark's Facebook app has seen its number of daily users increase fourfold in the last two weeks. Numbers at AppData show the music service's Facebook app went from 100,000 daily average users on Oct. 17 to 500,000 a week later. Since Oct. 24, daily average users have once fallen to 400,000 but otherwise have remained at or near 500,000. The monthly average users now stand at 910,000.
Grooveshark's VP of business development Paul Geller tells Bllboard.biz the recent bump is because of some "steady improvements" in the last few weeks after not doing anything with its Facebook app in more than a year. Users previewing the upcoming platform -- out Nov. 11 -- are pushing up usage numbers.
The top music app on Facebook is RootMusic's band page with 28.5 million monthly average users (it is the No. 5 overall app, according to AppData). ReverbNation's Band Profile app stands at 13.1 million monthly average users. The top music streaming service on Facebook is Pandora with 8.3 million monthly average users. Spotify is close behind with 7.1 million monthly average users (up from about 5.5 million on Oct. 1) and Vevo has 6.4 million.
Smule Raises $12 Million More In Funding
-- Smule, the app developer behind I Am T-Pain, has raised another $12 million in funding. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company had previously raised $13.5 million in 2009 from Bessemer Venture Partners, Granite Ventures, Maples Investments and Shasta Ventures. The company is behind a number of popular music apps for iPhone and iPad: Magic Piano, Glee, Ocarina and MadPad, among others.
Discounted Tix Controversy Hits U.K.
-- Discounted tickets seem to be generating the same kind of controversy in the United Kingdom as they have in the United States. BBC News reports that daily deal services like Groupon and Travelzoo made tickets available for Britney Spears' shows in the United Kingdom for about half off the original price.
A quick Google search shows the volume of discounted tickets for Spears' "Femme Fatale" U.K. concerts: York (27), Birmingham (29), Sheffield (94) and Newcastle (105). All four Groupon deals sold out of their allotments.
But other shows had far more discounted tickets. The Manchester show had 482 discounted tickets. And there were 1,899 discounted tickets sold for Spears' Oct. 27-28 and 31 concerts at Wembley Stadium in London, an average of 633 for each performance.
One promoter told the BBC discounting "undoubtedly works," while another promoter called it "incredibly damaging." In any event, discounted tickets are definitely here to stay. The GM of Travelzoo, a provider of travel and entertainment deals with more than 24 million subscribers worldwide, told the BBC the company is starting to see more pop shows being promoted through the service. "Promoters are thinking, instead of shows being 90% sold out, they'd rather have it full and promote it to a wider audience."
The number of discounted tickets for some of Spears' U.K. dates were actually far lower than what GrouponLive, Groupon's joint venture with Live Nation, sold for some U.S. shows earlier this year. For example, more than 680 tickets were purchased for a July 22 show at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Tickets normally worth up to $196 were sold for $99. These weren't nosebleed seats but lower-level seats in a corner on the far end from the stage. Less expensive tickets were sold through GrouponLive in other markets. In Minneapolis, more than 1,000 tickets were sold at prices ranging from $31 to $83. More than 880 tickets were sold from $31 to $73 in Cleveland.
The Future of Digital Music
-- What's the future of digital music? Subscription services will use partnerships and additional products to create an entertainment experience that covers the big screen (TV) and smaller screens (computer, mobile phone, tablets).
One new partnership that represents what to expect is found in the United Kingdom. Spotify users in the U.K. are getting a better product as well as discounts through a partnership with U.K. telecom Virgin Media.
New subscribers to Virgin's 30Mb, 50Mb or 100Mb broadband, as well as subscribers who recommit for another 12 months, can get a six-month Spotify subscription worth £60. Virgin Media cable customers who get a Virgin Mobile monthly subscription will get a three-month subscription worth £30.
Virgin Media's Spotify customers will get exclusive content as well as access to the service through a Spotify app inside Virgin's new TiVo device. Other services are also gunning for multi-platform experiences that include the television: Rdio, Mog and Pandora can be used on Roku, while users of Sony's Music Unlimited get TV access through PlayStation and other Sony hardware.
The exclusive content is a nice feature but maybe nothing more. The size of catalog alone doesn't create much value -- although not having a complete catalog certainly ruins potential value -- and any exclusive content will appeal to a small subset of users. It does attract hardcore music fans, and these services definitely need to win them over before moving on to later adopters.
What's more important than catalog is the service itself. The quality of a music service and its features will end up making the biggest difference. Everybody has used good and bad music services. They have roughly the same catalog of music but very different programming teams. The catalog gets a service through the door. After that it's up to engineering. Better products that can be used on different devices will lead to more subscribers.