Spotify & Pandora Prepare For Imminent Beats Music

The imminent launch of Beats Music is causing Spotify and Pandora to do some back peddling. Pandora’s personalized music streams, that will incorporate listener tendencies into recommendation engines, and Spotify’s International removal of free listening caps both come within a week of Beats’ launch. Beats Music claims to do both of these things – algorithmic artist discovery and custom streaming stations with unlimited play time, anywhere – which before this week Spotify and Pandora didn’t sponsor. Although Pandora is still the number one streaming service in the U.S. market, but Spotify is making rapid gains in an attempt to solidify its position in advance of the Beats Music launch. We’ll have to wait and and see how Beats Music does – or doesn’t – shake up the already competitive music streaming market. 

Apple Announces iTunes Radio

Apple announced the Fall launch of iTunes Radio, a Pandora-like streaming service geared towards music discovery and driving increased iTunes sales. Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, PC, and Apple TV the service will be free and ad supported, or   completely ad-free with an iTunes Match account.  While it’s hard to call the offering a game changer, there are differentiating features like voice command integration with SIRI to make song requests.  Apple’s biggest advantage though should be its ability to get exclusive tracks or album previews from big artists before you can hear them anywhere else.  

Pandora Releases Web App For TV

Pandora announced today that it is releasing an HTML 5 app for connected TV’s. This follows the push by Pandora to bring its service to Internet-connected automobiles and mobile devices. While it’s available as a native app on Smart TVs, Blu-Ray players, and some set-top boxes, Pandora has been notoriously absent from game consoles; the new app remedies this in its HTML 5 design, which means its available to any TV streaming device – like many game consoles. The goal for Pandora is, ultimately, consistency and quality. The company knows that the best speakers in the house are in the living room, and that the best guaranteed access point in the home is through the TV. Simultaneously, the TV app primes the company to generate significantly more ad revenue, and to combine with commercials and on-screen experiences to create a seamless flow between listening service and discovery engine. 

Pandora And Facebook Partner

It’s now increasingly simple to share your Pandora on Facebook. Starting tomorrow, tracks, stations, and songs you give a ‘thumbs up’ to will be shared directly to Facebook. Listening habits are then aggregated and displayed as part of the ‘music’ section on your Facebook profile. The idea is to deeply integrate Facebook with their online identity as they consume content around the Internet, and this partnership with Pandora is probably the first of many across the Internet. 

Pandora Announces 200 Million Users

Pandora announced that on Tuesday it passed 200 million registered users for its online radio service. Although it took the company six years to sign its first 100 million users, from July 2005 to July 20011, it took a little less than two years thereafter to double that figure. In addition, 140 million out of the 200 million also access their accounts from mobile devices. Pandora firmly believes that it’s on the right side of radio innovation, for both artists and music fans; however only 70 million of the 200 million registered users use the service on a monthly basis. At the same time, this ratio is significantly more promising than that of Spotify, which boasts 24 million active users, only 6 million of which pay for the service. 

HitBliss Pays Consumers To Watch Ads

HitBliss, a new service that’s now in Beta, is an advertising tool and content provider that aims to revolutionize the way consumers deal with ads. The HitBliss system features a two-pronged approach: HitBliss Store and HitBliss Earn. The Store is just like any other content platform that sells movies and TV shows, but it has no advertisements. Instead, a separate but affiliated service, HitBiss Earn – dubbed the “Pandora of Advertising” – allows users to earn real credits towards purchasing shows and movies in the Store by watching a series of targeted ads.

HitBliss Earn has several levels of functionality. It permits users to opt into an advertising profile that would allow advertisers to target the user based on gender, name, and location, as well as Internet history to deliver Google-like precision ads. The user can pick and choose the level of targeting, though of course the more data you give, the greater and quicker the credit rewards come your way.

The startup, however, has anticipated the privacy backlash their policies could unleash. They’ve made it very clear that at every step, the consumer is entirely in control of the information they choose to divulge. Users can reveal no information at all and just accrue credits through watching random ads, but they’ll earn credits much slower.  As well, any data the user might choose to share is never transmitted to an advertiser or permanently stored; it is exclusively used for that individual HitBliss Earn session.

Once a user opts-in to receive targeted messages, says HitBliss co-founder and VP Sharon Peyer, “the HitBliss app retains the user’s profile information. Then the user’s profile information looks at the advertiser’s criteria… The matching happens locally, within the app.” The only thing advertisers see is whether the user was a match, and if the user clicks through the coupons or offers, they’ll receive more credit. And to ensure that the user stays focused on the ads and doesn’t walk away, they utilize a countdown clock that, once expired, will delete all credit previously earned with the program. It’s like an online focus group: if you’ve opted in, you have to participate to reap the rewards.

Of yet, HitBliss is only available for Mac, PC, Android, and iOS devices, but as the program is only in Beta testing, that’s not entirely surprising. But it’s one of the first apps that makes clear a fundamental advertising premise: Eyes, ears, and especially personal data are worth money; HitBliss gives you that money in the form of TV Shows, Movies, and Games.