Digital Notes: Sonos Lowers the Price a Bit, Brad Paisley to Help Market Magisto, WillCall Unveils Ticket Gifting Feature
Sonos introduced its $200 Play:1 wireless speaker this week in a bid to expand its customer base deeper into the mass market. (Credit: Sonos)

Sonos Does the Limbo

How low can their prices go? Sonos, a home audio company known for its high-end Wi-Fi speakers, this week introduced a low-priced version of its sound system, bringing the Santa Barbara company's products a step closer to mass market affordability.

At $200, the Play:1 speaker isn't cheap, but it is $100 to $200 less than the Sonos Play:3 and the Play:5 speakers, respectively. The differences, said Sonos' chief executive John MacFarlane, include deeper bass and bigger sounds for the higher priced systems. Sonos also sells a line of home theater components, including a $699 soundbar and a $499 amplifier.

The Play:1 is "a super aggressive form factor that delivers amazing sound at a real mass price point," MacFarlane told Billboard. "It’s been what we’ve been talking about forever."

Sonos' systems have been installed in more than 1 million homes, but that's still less than 1% of U.S. households. MacFarlane estimates there are 30 million to 40 million U.S. households with "modern music lovers" -- the target audience for Sonos. Founded in 2003, Sonos has kept up with the trend toward digital streams by directly integrating music services on its devices, essentially making its sound systems a platform for digital music. Today, Sonos products are able to wirelessly stream Spotify, Rhapsody, TuneIn, Slacker, MOG, Pandora, Deezer, NPR and the BBC, among others, using the WiFi network in homes.

Brad Paisley Links Up with Magisto

The country rock singer on Wednesday announced a marketing campaign with Magisto, which recently relaunched its mobile video editing tool to focus on helping users tell Hollywood-style stories with their clips.

Paisley's "I Can't Change the World" is one of about 200 licensed songs that users can add to their videos as soundtracks. Other tracks include Lady Gaga's "Applause," One Direction's "Best Song Ever," and Katy Perry's "Roar," to name a few. Paisley's contest calls for his fans to create videos about a person that's changed their world. 

The Israeli company is looking to expand its catalog and its U.S. presence by reaching out to rights holders here, as well as "micro-licensing" companies such as Rumblefish, Audiosocket and Music Dealers that specialize in sync licensing for user-generated online videos, said Reid Genauer, Magisto's chief marketing officer. 

The app currently has 13 million registered users whose videos generate about 13 million views a month on social platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Google+. The free version lets users create videos of up to 1 minute, while a paid premium version allows for longer videos of up to 3 minutes. Users upload footage and photos, select a filter and a soundtrack, and the app automatically detects highlights and produces an edited movie.

"For artists, it's a powerful way for musicians to insert their songs quite literally into the soundtrack of their fans' lives," Genauer said.

WillCall Introduces Virtual Ticket Gifting

In the old days, buying concert tickets for your friends was no big deal -- you just handed them the paper tickets. Now, electronic tickets come with all sorts of restrictions on transferability, ostensibly designed to prevent scalping. In practicality, this has turned into a major headache for consumers, including the mother who uses her credit card to buy One Direction tickets for her daughter and three of her friends must accompany the kids to the show to prove she hadn't resold those tickets.

WillCall, a San Francisco start-up, this week introduced a feature to eliminate that scenario. Users of WillCall's app, which currently operates only in San Francisco and New York, can electronically send tickets to their friends within the app. 

"We were tired of not having an easy way to give tickets to friends before a show," said WillCall's chief executive Donnie Dinch. "So we built one.”

WillCall has raised more than $2 million in seed funding from a host of high-profile angels, including Sean Parker; Coran Capshaw, John Frankenheimer, Joe Gebbia, Oliver Luckett, Oliver Jung, Bruce Flohr, Sam Shank, Steve Jang and SV Angel, among others.