In this edition of “What’sNext,” Radio World’s watch on everything new in audio content and distribution:
Streaming audio has caught again our attention again, with four items that spotlight where this growing market is headed.
Time to pay the piper: In the case of the Beats Music streaming service, which Apple bought for $3 billion along with the Beats audio hardware division in May 2014, this money may spell the end of Beats Music as an independent music entity.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that Apple intends to integrate Beats’ content and human-curated playlists into its iTunes music store, helping to fill a serious gap in Apple’s online music portfolio.
Meanwhile, Techcrunch.com is reporting that Apple will discontinue Beats Music’ brand and online presence, “according to five sources, including several prominent employees at Apple and Beats.”
When RW learned about Streema (http://streema.com), our initial reaction was, “Oh great; yet another streaming media service to fit in alongside all the others.”
However, after a look over the Streema site — which also offers access to TV feeds — we were impressed. Streema’s website claims it is “the easiest way to listen to your favorite radio stations on the Web.”
Navigating Streema is easy: Feeds are classified under radio or TV, with sections organized by region, country, city and genre. Also, the additional genres available for the U.S. are extensive — including Old-Time Radio (a personal favorite) — and everything is mouse-clickable. Add Streema’s just-launched iOS app, and this service may find a place, despite a crowded market.
MAD GENIUS RADIO
Mad Genius Radio (www.madgeniusradio.com) is a personalized audio streaming service with a creative twist. The user gets to program five preset buttons on their screen — like an old car dashboard — each of which can draw from up to seven different music genres (with songs being updated on an ongoing basis).
Mad Genius Radio also lets users rate how often they want to hear specific artists using a one-to-five scale (or skip them entirely), and add “Time Machine genres that were popular in the past,” says the Mad Genius Radio website. The service costs $5/month, but is offering an “extended free trial” to attract new listeners.
Mad Genius Radio is available on iOS, Android and online.
DEEZER + STITCHER
Finally, France-based music streamer service Deezer (www.deezer.com) has purchased U.S.-based talk-and-podcast streamer Stitcher (www.stitcher.com); creating a service that covers all aspects of the audio service spectrum.
The purchase sees Deezer getting access to 35,000 Stitcher radio shows and podcasts, with content coming from the BBC, CBS Radio News and Fox News.
The deal signals yet another innovative attempt to carve out a distinct space in the increasingly packed streaming media spectrum.
THE WHAT’SNEXT TAKE
The streaming audio market has entered into its diversification phase, with all kinds of companies trying out innovative approaches to stake out turf online and on mobile.
What remains to be seen is who can make a living in this space, perhaps either by selling subscriptions or ads — or maybe a combination of both.
James Careless is a longtime contributor. Send ideas for What’sNext to [email protected].