Pandora Killed the (Internet) Radio Star
-- Pandora was the tops -- by a mile -- in Internet radio in December, according to Ando Media's latest rankings. Pandora was first in the Domestic Ranker (M-F, 6a-8p) with 642,614 active average sessions and over 236.8 million session starts. CBS Radio came in second with 168,410 active average sessions. Clear Channel Radio was #3 (133,692), Citadel was #4 (41,210) and Slacker was #5 (33,894).
Slacker appeared fifth on the chart for the first time. That bump was due in part to Slacker's mobile data being reported for the first time in December. Although Slacker and Pandora have about the same average listening time - 0.86 hours for Pandora and 0.8 hours for Slacker - Pandora is obviously well ahead in terms of amount of listening. Pandora had 19 times as many average active sessions and nearly 18 times as many session starts.
How much are Pandora listeners using the service? Well, we don't know what percent of registered users actually listen to Pandora on a regular basis. It's likely that a small portion of users accounts for a large chunk of listening. But we do know that each registered user accounted for 2.8 sessions starts in December - or about one session every ten days. Those numbers are based on Ando Media's rankings and the figure of 80 million registered users given in Pandora's IPO filing with the SEC.
What do these terms and numbers mean? The Domestic Ranker chart tracks listening done inside the U.S. based on log-based information provided by the station. Average active sessions represents total listening hours divided by total hours in the reporting session. Session starts are the number of different streaming requests at least one minute long. Sessions were tracked from 6am to 8pm Monday to Friday.
Shazam Adds MTV Co-Founder John Sykes to Board
John Sykes, co-founder of MTV Networks and CEO of Project Playlist, has joined the board of mobile music ID service Shazam.
According to statements include in the press release announcing the appointment, Shazam intends to tap Sykes' knowledge of the TV programming and advertising space to as "Shazam transitions beyond music to enable consumers to interact with television programming content and advertising."
Shazam has already begun working with several brands to use its audio ID service as a way for TV viewers to interface with what they're watching. Earlier this month, for example, it began working with Old Navy in a campaign that lets Shazam users use the app to tag the music contained in the ad to navigate to an online store on their phones to get more information about the clothes and music featured.
This interactive ad strategy emerged after Shazam received an undisclosed investment from Kliener Perkins' iFund-an investment unit dedicated specifically to fund promising iPhone apps.
Thumbplay Reportedly For Sale, Bargain Basement Price
Mobile music service provider Thumbplay may be up for sale, according to published reports.
MocoNews, citing unnamed sources, broke the news, pointing to a potential deal this week for the Thumbplay Music streaming music service portion of the business. If the report is correct, Thumbplay would be another in a long line of digital music companies that sold for a disappointing sum.
"The price is very low," mocoNews was told. "No one is making any money." Thumbplay Music is one of several mobile music subscription services charging $10 a month to stream and store cloud-based music on smartphone devices via an app. The service is available on iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices.
According to the report, the company has been unable to turn a profit on the service. Meanwhile Thumplay's traditional business -- a ringtone subscription club -- is for sale separately.
During the later stages of the ringtone craze, Thumbplay stood out as a power distributor of what was known at the time as "off-portal" ringtones sales. That means Thumbplay, not the wireless operator, sold ringtones compatible with a large variety of mobile phones and carriers.
The company was founded in 2004. Its investors include Bain Capital Ventures, SoftBank Capital, i-Hatch Ventures, Redwood Partners, New Enterprise Associates, Meritech and Cross Creek Capital. The New York-based company raised $2.5 million last year, $7.5 million in 2005, $8 million in 2009, $18 million in 2008, $15 million in 2006 according to SEC filings and press releases.
The company advertised heavily in music magazines and bough links on music websites like AOL and others. As ringtone sales declined, the company hoped to transfer its momentum to the streaming music space, converting ringtone subscribers to full-song streaming subscribers.
Representatives at Thumbplay did not immediately return requests for comment.
No Hanging Chads: Entire WMG Board Re-Elected
-- At last week's Warner Music Group annual meeting of stockholders, the entire nominated board was elected for a one-year term. The 12 board members are Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Shelby W. Bonnie (CEO of Whiskey Media, member of the audit committee), Richard Bressler (Managing Director at Thomas H. Lee and Partners, L.P.), John P. Connaughton (Managing Director at Bain Capital Partners), Phyllis E. Grann (former CEO and President of Penguin Putnam, Inc.), Michele J. Hooper (co-founder and Managing Partner of The Directors' Council), Scott L. Jaeckel (Managing Director at Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P.), Seth W. Lawry (Managing Director at Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P.), Thomas H. Lee (Chairman and CEO of Thomas H. Lee Capital, LLC), Ian Loring (Managing Director of Bain Capital Partners, LLC), Mark E. Nunnelly (Bain Capital Partners, LLC )and Scott M. Sperling.
( SEC filing)
Tony Conrad @ True Ventures: 'Investing in Music is a Little Like Vietnam'
-- Tony Conrad, partner at early stage capital firm True Ventures http://www.trueventures.com/, recently told TechCrunch that "investing in music is a little like Vietnam." As in the war. Kind of harsh, but as he said, investors like him have been burned many times. Why invest in music at all? "It's one of those spaces that is super fun," he said. "It's in everyone's DNA, you know what I mean? We all love it. It's sexy. It's cool. We want to reinvent it. We want to be a part of it, you know?"
Another reason to invest in music is because an entrepreneur you previously backed wants to launch a music service. Which is the case with True Ventures and Bandcamp. Later, Conrad chimed in at a Digital Music News post vietnam to point out there are bright spots in the market. He clearly showed enthusiasm for Bandcamp, which his firm invested in. (Conrad had backed Oddpost, a webmail company founded by Diamond and sold to Yahoo! in 2004.) He called CEO Ethan Diamond a "proven star" and said his team is "killing it." And he wrote that the company is one of True Ventures' fastest growing companies. "Bandcamp, along with a number of other fantastic music companies like Pandora, Spotify, etc, is playing a key role in creating new distribution and business model opportunities for artists in the fast evolving music space," he continued. "We are truly lucky to be able to support their vision."