Music 4.5 SmartRadio: Playlists 2: Passive discovery, sustained listening, and data, data, data…
“We are now in the ‘sustained listening’ business,” said Chris Cooke of CMU, as he kicked off Music 4.5 SmartRadio: Playlists 2 on 14 April 2016 at Lewis Silkin in London.
Conceived, organized and executed by 2Pears – the team creating opportunities and events to inform, educate and connect entrepreneurs and start-ups in music, media and technology – Music 4.5 SmartRadio: Playlists 2 evolved from the successful playlist discussions that 2Pears initiated in New York last autumn.
Where streaming and radio collide
This time, the seminar focused on the role of playlists in the increasingly symbiotic relationship between streaming and radio, as well as monetization of playlists and who is best leveraging playlist data.
Daniel Nathan, CEO of TotallyRadio, agreed. “Hybrid radio is about mixing up forms,” he said “Radio is becoming a live, branded playlist where you can skip songs, adverts and live events, thereby adding more of what you want.”
The evolving “discovery” expectation
While music discovery has long been a playlist USP, many argued that discovery isn’t what guides the majority of streaming users. “Over 50% of what a user streams is content that is their own catalogue,” said Simon Rugg of PIAS UK.
“For the mainstream consumer, discovery isn’t a term,” said Cooke. “[Users] don’t know they want to discover.” The key is to surprise the user with something new within a playlist of music they know and like. This idea of “passive discovery”, says Cooke, will go mainstream as the number of paying users for streaming increases.
Many speakers illustrated how current data is being leveraged for playlist creation, and described the role data plays in monetization. Brittney Bean of Tracks2 explained, “Apple Music alone produces 100 megabytes of data per day. But this data can help inform decision making – for example, with an artist’s placement within a playlist, or it can tell A&R who they should be signing.”
But Apple “doesn’t let a lot of data out,” said Chloe Straw of Somethin’ Else. Still, she argued that there are other ways to gauge audience engagement and response with a playlist or artist, and this is where streaming has the upper hand. “Radio is the most inaccurate way of measuring data, where social media – for example – helps you get something back.”
However, this is all just the tip of the iceberg. “Playlists are providing important data that industry is just getting its head around,” said Cooke.
The value of playlists (or should we say, “compilations”?)
Consultant Martin Kummer argued that there already exists a form of playlist that is monetized and profitable: the compilation CD. “Compilations generated 16% of UK’s recoded music revenues last year,” he said. “Many compilations are not on streaming services because major labels don’t license their tracks to third party compilation creators. But can the music industry afford to forgo these revenues in the future?”
Playlists also have roles outside direct consumer streaming. Gideon Chain – founder and CEO of Ambie.fm – says that the market for background music is huge. Around 6.2 million European businesses play music and spend £2.1 billion annually on licensing and supply. 2.5 billion people are reached every single day. “When music is played that a user likes, they stay longer, visit more, and are more likely to make a purchase,” he said. “But the music has to match the brand. The wrong music can make you leave, buy less or recommend others not to visit.”
The human/science of playlist creation
The ideal method for how these playlists are crafted are, according to Alan Hannaway of 7digital, where “creative and data work together – both [are] instrumental in crafting new listening experiences.”
Some of our speakers dissected the technical science behind playlist creation. Moodagent, a company that analyses the features of a track and provides a rich music profile based on data and metadata, can “find all the right playlists to update with a new release with insights on why,” said CEO Peter Berg Steffensen.
The elephant in the room
Francoise Planquette of Playzer spoke to YouTube’s dominance in the video space, with music video consumption that is set to overtake audio streaming. YouTube, however, shouldn’t be cited as the only player in the space – Vevo, Vessel and Xite are notable. “YouTube,” he said, “doesn’t help with [artists’] revenue and it’s unfriendly for playlists.”
However, people who might not listen to a song will watch the video. “Music videos were created to promote albums and the number of videos created for an album is rising.” This places video as a better sales tool than the “sustained listening” of audio streaming.
And yet. YouTube. Or, more specifically, YouTube Red. It launched in the US last year and is set to arrive in the UK this summer. The subscription service will allow users to watch ad-free videos, access premium content and effectively use YouTube as a streaming service, integrating Google Play (and its playlists) and enabling users to cache offline content.
Streaming, as we know it, may be about to change.
Music 4.5 was conceived, organized and executed by 2Pears, the team creating opportunities and events to inform, educate and connect entrepreneurs and start-ups in music, media and technology. To attend or inquire about speaking in the Music 4.5 seminars, please visit our website.