Facebook, it is argued, is eating the media. With the launch of autoplaying native video and lightning fast-loading Instant Articles, Facebook isn’t just letting publishers share their content with readers – it is hosting the content itself, and in doing so, shaping how audiences experience that content.

The trouble for the media, it seems, is that once Facebook controls both publishing and distribution, it will have even more power to control publishers’ traffic and access to audience data – and therefore their monetization as well. But might this be a power grab that serves users and saves publishers from themselves?

The dangers of depending on Facebook

Publishers find themselves in a tricky spot. None of them set out to become beholden to Facebook. Most fell into depending on Facebook passively because their readers were sharing on Facebook without prompting. Once they realized the incredible ability of the platform to drive traffic, they started engaging more deliberately. Even BuzzFeed, who built their audience and monetization model on Facebook sharing (it accounts for over 50% of their traffic), did so because Facebook was where the audience was, not because they wanted to depend on the platform (CEO Jonah Peretti’s famous ‘distributed’ content strategy).

And publishers are right to be wary of depending on Facebook. Their brand partners provide a cautionary tale: they were encouraged to build large followings on Facebook, only later find they needed to pay Facebook in order to reach a meaningful number of those fans. Zynga faced a similar fate when it found overnight that the in-app purchases for its Facebook-hosted games would have to be made via Facebook ‘credits’ – a service that Facebook would charge 30% for. In both cases it’s clear that Facebook gained from a change that arguably had little impact on users (in the case of brands it was arguably negative – cutting users off from content they’d signed up to see).

A user-centric power grab?

But, I would argue, this move by Facebook is not simply a nefarious grab for money and power. This is a push for a drastically better user experience. Money and power are simple a pleasant extra. With both Facebook Video and Instant Articles, Facebook has dragged publishers, kicking and screaming, toward providing users with a cleaner, faster browsing experience.

The problem for users was that publishers’ desire for ad revenue and user data had led them to overload their sites with megabytes of software that added nothing to the user experience, but added massively to loading times and data consumption. A New York Times report showed that over half the loading time of leading publishers’ mobile sites was driven by the need to load advertising tech and content. These delays meant that people browsing Facebook and then seeking to load articles or videos from the publisher sites were stuck staring at blank loading screens. This was a bad user experience that made browsing on Facebook less attractive, and therefore reduced the value of the users to Facebook.

Facebook’s grab cut through this. With Facebook hosted content, Articles would load instantly,  and videos would play automatically, as long as they were hosted by Facebook itself. And in the process, Facebook would control more of the user experience – making it cleaner, clearer and more uncluttered.  Facebook can then give the publishers data on users and share with them the revenue from any ads that run alongside the content.

Publishers saved from themselves

In other words, the power grab can been as Facebook saving publishers from themselves. It lets them get data about customers and get revenue from targeted ads with a vastly superior user experience.

The devil, of course is in the detail. Facebook knows that this user experience is compelling and has resulted in radically higher user engagement. (Publishers know this too – just as BuzzFeed or the Washington Post). And while commercial terms are no public, it seems safe to assume that Facebook is capturing a substantial portion of the additional value it creates.

There is no doubt that this move deepens the publishers’ dependence on Facebook. But it does so in service of their end users. More importantly, it is also an acknowledgement from Facebook that publishers are critically important to its ability to engage and retain users. Already Facebook has shown that it’s not immune to publisher pressure, with reports in November suggesting it is looking at changes to Instant Articles that will improve publishers’ revenue per article.

On top of that, having Facebook cajole publishers into Facebook-hosted content seems a significantly lesser evil than having Facebook launch its own content production in house. In that light, this represents Facebook insisting that both sides stick to their knitting: Facebook will focus on a compelling, user-friendly experience it can sell ads against, and publishers will focus on producing great content.

The price is eternal vigilance

This isn’t to say that publishers can rest easy under the benevolent gaze of Facebook. They will have to watch Facebook carefully for plans to adjust the terms of these programs. Continuing to maintain their own sales and ad tech capabilities will likely be necessary, to give credibility to a thread to pull out of the Facebook hosting ecosystem. However it seems that continuing to produce great content that people want to share on Facebook – thereby remaining important to Facebook – is the best insurance policy in an uncertain world.

By: Steve Hind


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During the latest round of the long and seemingly never-ending conflict between Israel and Palestine, and after following closely the news, links, tweets, posts, etc. that one could find mainly in Facebook and Twitter, my old concern about the role that Social Media is playing beyond its social-fun aspect, in terms of affecting the way we inform ourselves, crawled back inevitably to my mind.

Since the irruption of social media in our lives, there has been ample talk about the democratization of the information, and the empowerment of all of us as civilians. I believe that the praise is well deserved in many aspects, and it is difficult to question the positive role it has played in connecting people and allowing for a free, fast, and high volume of information flow. Getting information has never been easier, but at the same time, in my opinion, never has been harder to differentiate between real versus fake, ill-intentioned posts, news, etc.

Also the fact that anyone of us can, legitimately, post in social media, has opened a new outlet for people to misinform, or to express potentially dangerous ideas, that can affect different groups in our society. Don’t get me wrong, I value and see as a key right the freedom of speech that we have in many countries, but that doesn’t mean it is not important to analyze the potential negative effects of these new technologies.

The News/Media industry has been heavily disrupted by the strong growth of social media and technology in general. Print media is suffering, and has had to make a difficult transition towards mobile platforms. TV news outlets have maybe suffered somewhat to a lesser extent, but still have had to rethink their business models, incorporating technology like online videos, Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages. Even though News/Media companies have always been subject to editorial lines that may come from the owners or the Editor in Chief, or from the own biases that the journalists bring with them, it was easier to trace back where the information was coming from, and from whom I was getting it. This is getting harder, considering the amount of content we receive, and from so many different outlets/sources/users.

Seeing the glass half-full, the fact that social media enabled people in countries like Iran in 2009 with the elections protests1, Egypt in 2011 with the social uprising against Mubarak2, and Venezuela in the 2012 presidential elections3 to express freely, was a significant event, that had bigger implications than everyone might have expected. Even though if it was for a short period of time (in Iran4 and Egypt5 they blocked the use of Twitter and social media in general), enabled people to express their opinions and share them with the rest of the world, generating awareness of their realities. It was one of the first times I can remember seeing relevant events “live” through the eyes of the population of a country, with no filters. Especially considering the low levels of freedom of the press in these particular countries (Egypt ranks 159/180, Iran 173/180, and Venezuela 116/180 in terms of freedom of the press worldwide6), the value generated by social media is even greater.

However, the empty half of the glass shows a somewhat grimmer view. During the latest Israel-Palestine outburst I saw first hand how people from both sides where almost without even reviewing their sources, posting links to old, fake, or non-accurate pictures7, news, and videos that supported their opinions. Worst, I saw how two dear friends, one with Jewish roots and one with Palestinian roots, created a Facebook group trying to unite both communities back in Chile, only to get severe backlash from people with radical views from both sides. They received personal threats, which ultimately led to closing the group, even if this aggressiveness came from a very small group. Social media provided the perfect outlet for people to express discriminatory/racist/xenophobic views against people from Israel, Palestine, or even towards the local communities associated with both places. Comment boxes in news outlets were dominated by irrational, insulting comments. People from both communities suffered virtual and real life, physical attacks. The Arab School of Santiago, Chile suffered from graffiti’s on their walls, and Jewish families were attacked in the streets and at their homes. One is left wandering, especially comparing with previous outbursts of the conflict like in 2008 and 2012 did social media amplify the impact of this international conflict outside their borders? Did social media actually played a role of informing in an unbiased way, or did it only polarized and confronted communities that are thousands of miles away from the point of origin? What effect did social media play in the general population that is not part of these two communities in shaping their views? Is social media simply enabling people hiding behind a computer express views that they don’t dare to express publicly, sometimes hiding behind an alias? I believe the jury is still out on these questions, and I don’t have the answer either.

There are reports suggesting that social media in general, but particularly a YouTube video, played a relevant role in the deaths of the US personnel of the embassy in Libya8 in 2012. Even if the video wasn’t the main cause, the fact that it is in the discussion as a possible enabler of a tragic event, validates the idea of at least making these questions.

If social media is enabling democratization and empowerment, one could think that the shift in power about informing would also shift the sense of responsibility towards the now empowered civilian population. However this is not necessarily happening. Maybe it has to do with the fact that this may be an industry still in its infancy. Is it fair to put the blame on the people that are posting only? Or should the companies providing the outlets take more responsibility? I believe both parties have to be more responsible, however as an example Facebook9, Twitter10, and YouTube11 argue they are not liable for the potential defamatory content posted in their sites. Even though we as users can report content that seems inappropriate, it means putting the burden on the user base. Considering these are successful businesses, where for example Facebook in terms of members would be the 3rd largest country in the world, shouldn’t they approach this in a proactive way? Hiding behind the argument that they are mere platforms and not publishers12 might serve them well for now, but I strongly believe they should try to analyze the ramifications and impact their networks have worldwide, and take a more proactive approach as they keep on growing in relevance and in members.  This decision might impact their business models, and imply investments in different areas, but this doesn’t mean it is something they should or can ignore forever.

Referenced sources:

  1. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jun/16/irans-twitter-revolution/
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/books/review/how-an-egyptian-revolution-began-on-facebook.html?pagewanted=all
  3. http://www.academia.edu/6028772/GRINEVALD-The_Twitter_Effect_in_the_2012_Venezuelan_Presidential_Elections
  4. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=anh.uW3gNZp
  5. http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/25/twitter-blocked-egypt/
  6. http://rsf.org/index2014/en-index2014.php
  7. http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-28198622
  8. http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2012/09/12/how-could-chris-stevens-die-because-youtube-clip/Ex92OLF0qCwlXwa5nYV7fI/story.html & http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-lam/social-media-middle-east-protests-_b_1881827.html
  9. https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms
  10. https://twitter.com/tos
  11. https://www.youtube.com/static?gl=CA&template=terms
  12. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jul/29/twitter-urged-responsible-online-abuse

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To compete with the marketing budgets of traditional retailers’ ecommerce startups have found a way to cheaply acquire customers: provide interesting content on their website. Those who enjoy the blog are most likely their target demographic, and once on their website it will be easy to convert these readers into paying customers. However, these visitors are first and foremost consumers not customers, and the conversion from consumer to customer may be more complicated than imagined. Content driven commerce is an age-old concept; advertisements are paired with relevant media content in magazines, in newspapers, on television and alongside search results. Yet, for ecommerce businesses this new model challenges them to simultaneously create interesting content and a viable business. One company in particular, Huckberry, has been extremely successful in meeting this challenge.

Huckberry is a startup ecommerce site designed for the urban male professional who spends his weekend’s outdoors. Co-founders and college friends, Andy Forsch and Richard Greiner lived this life during their investment banking days and thus know their consumer well. Huckberry is equally a blog and a shop, you can seamlessly toggle between the sections via tabs at the top of the page. Counterintuitive to traditional merchandising, Huckberry intentionally drives traffic from the shop to the blog; products are featured next to blog posts, and blog teasers are placed in the shop. Last month I sat down with founder Andy Forsch and learned their blog strategy is as crucial as their merchandising strategy; they are constantly aiming to improve the customer’s experience by not only providing more interesting products, but also more relevant content. With email communication, their rule is three content pings for every commerce pin, and to date the strategy has worked as they have incredibly high open rates on their emails.

Huckberry’s consistent aesthetic and voice results in seamless integration between their blog and shop, they maintain this consistency by keeping all of their writing and photography in house. Even their product descriptions read like a story, In 2008, Swedes Alexander Palmgren and Henrik Lindahl found themselves in an American hotel room with lost luggage and— even more upsetting— no clean underwear. No, this isn’t The Hangover 3. But it was the beginning of an idea: Bread &Boxers.” Not quite the typical product description for undershirts and boxers, but each of these descriptions builds and maintains their brand.

The question remains, how will they convert these content driven sign-ups into paying customers? Further, does Huckberry need to turn every one of their consumers into a customer? To date their sales have supported the bootstrapped company (they have taken no venture fudning) and everything from article writing to order fulfillment is done in their SOMA garage style office. Without the pressure of growth targets they are waiting for the right opportunities to scale their business or pivot their model.

With a blog as valuable as Huckberry’s I wonder where their future lies. Are they going to continue to sell a curated collection of luxury plaid shirts and masculine candles? Are they going to fundamentally change media content’s monetization and distribution? Their articles are as interesting as GQs, but their turnaround time is seven days, not seven months, so it is no wonder why traditional media outlets, such as Outsiders magazine, have begun to seek partnerships with them. Huckberry delivers timely and interesting articles to their consumers’ inboxes with interesting products for sale folded into the mix. As a consumer and a customer that sounds better than getting an email from Details filled with display ads and veiled behind a subscription fee.


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It was bound to happen. Facing mounting pressure to find new ways to monetize against its massive base of over a billion users, Facebook announced in September that it would be launching Facebook Gifts, a new service that allows users to send physical gifts and gift cards to their friends through Facebook. Starbucks, Warby Parker, 1-800 Flowers, Brookstone, Hulu, Robert Mondavi, and Gap represent just a sample of the hundreds of retail partners that Facebook has lined up as part of its initial launch. But Facebook promises that it’s just getting started.
 
While dozens of startups – Wrapp, Giftly, YouGift, and Giftivo to name a few – have battled for dominance in the growing, multi-billion dollar sector of eCommerce (as a point of reference, the gift card industry is $100B a year in the US alone) known as “social gifting,” Facebook’s entry represents – by far – the largest foray into this space that any major tech company has made. Despite its share of critics (we are talking about Facebook, after all), I’m quite bullish on Facebook’s latest move. Here’s why:

We’re talking a billion users.
Let’s say Facebook can convert even just 1% of its users to use its gifting service (a conservative estimate given ~5% of Facebook’s users have already paid for third party apps that run on the Facebook platform). If each of these users spends $50 a year on Facebook gifts (that’s just two average-priced gifts per year) and if Facebook collects 15% royalties on each gift purchased, that’s already $750M in additional revenue for the tech giant. Even if just 0.5% of users or 0.1% of users end up buying into Gifts, the revenue potential – based on Facebook’s scale alone – is enormous.

Facebook knows what we want better than anyone else – including ourselves.
Through our status updates, check-ins, photo uploads, “likes,” and wall posts, Facebook has amassed an unparalleled amount of data on all of us. It knows which brands we interact with, the lifestyles we likely lead, and thus, I will argue, which gifts we’d likely want for our birthdays. No other eCommerce website understands our social profile nearly as well as Facebook does to recommend the gifts that are most relevant to us – and thus the ones that we are most likely to buy. Talk about the perfect curated gift experience – Facebook’s got that covered.

It strengthens Facebook’s mobile play.
As more and more of its users migrate from desktop computers to iPhones and tablets, Facebook is under an immense amount of pressure to build and monetize a mobile audience. And while mobile ad revenue has increased steadily, investors are still not satisfied. By integrating Facebook Gifts’ full functionality onto its mobile application, Facebook hopes to increase overall mobile engagement and find new ways to generate revenue via its mobile users.

It’s a natural extension of what people use Facebook for already.
Logging onto Facebook to wish our friends “happy birthday” has become a common social norm. In fact, analysts estimate that approximately 50 million “happy birthday” messages are posted on Facebook each day. Facebook Gifts is a natural way to monetize on this phenomenon, one that is designed to enhance the greeting experience by taking it one step further. Such behavior may be particularly attractive to last-minute “impulse” shoppers. According to SF Gate, “Facebook could be easing members into a more comfortable level of trust, starting with small, inexpensive “impulse” gifts that “don’t require a lot of planning or a lot of research,” Chiagouris said. “Small-ticket apparel items, like scarves and gloves, can be a big hit for Christmas,” he said. “Little by little, they’ll be more comfortable doing it for bigger ticket items.”

It’s all about the data.
According to Wedbush Securities, Gifts will help strengthen Facebook’s core business – advertising. “When you buy your friend a gift, you’re giving Facebook information about yourself and your friend. Suddenly, the person who received a subscription to Bon Appetit could see cooking-related ads. It’s all part of Facebook’s effort to sell the most targeted ads on the Internet — for now that means on Facebook, but potentially it could extend across sites everywhere on the Internet.” Furthermore, Gifts gives Facebook access to one of the last valuable pieces of data it might not yet have already: our credit card information. The more payments data Facebook has on its users, the easier it will be for users to buy physical and virtual goods through Facebook, further expanding the company’s eCommerce platform.

Retailers and advertisers are on board.
Facebook has already signed up over a hundred retailers – nearly all of whom are also Facebook advertisers – and hundreds more are in the queue. Initial reactions from retailers suggest that they are enthusiastic about the brand exposure to hundreds of millions of users that its products are getting from simply being on the Gifts platform.  Furthermore, after a Gift is purchased, users can opt to share that Gift on his or her timeline, further promoting the brand within a more social, and thus less intrusive context.

Facebook doesn’t want you to leave.
By launching into eCommerce, Facebook gives its users one more reason to stay on its site rather than to divert to an Amazon or an eBay. The longer you stay on Facebook, the more ads you see. And the more ads you see, the more money goes into Facebook’s already deep pockets.

A final word.
As you can tell, I am quite optimistic about Facebook’s foray into eCommerce. However, only time will tell how Gifts fares among a growing number of risks and concerns that have emerged: privacy concerns over data security (especially as it relates to payment and shipping info), dissatisfaction with an increasing share of commercial content on Facebook’s site, and potential competitive reactions from more established eCommerce players like Amazon and eBay as they consider entering the social gifting space.

Wired says, “It’s a smart approach. If anyone is better positioned than Amazon to recommend products to people, it’s Facebook, and the company is off to an auspicious start.”

It’s a small start, but then so was Facebook itself.

 

Facebook Gifts

 

Sources (all accessed November 19, 2012)

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomiogeron/2012/09/27/with-facebook-gift-giving-service-is-more-e-commerce-to-come/

[2] http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/27/facebook-gifts/

[3] http://gigaom.com/2012/11/15/facebook-recruits-retail-partners-for-big-gifts-holiday-push/

[4] http://pandodaily.com/2012/11/08/how-many-startups-will-facebook-gifts-kill/

[5] http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/15/facebook-gifts-available-to-tens-of-millions-of-users-in-time-for-holidays-fab-lindt-pandora-and-others-on-board/

[6] http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-09/28/facebook-online-store

 


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While the digitalization of music has been underway for well over a decade, there continues to be a steady flow of new services emerging to satisfy all forms of digital music distribution.  Platforms such as Pandora and Spotify are well known across even the least tech savvy of circles, though these services are just the tip of a rapidly growing streaming music revolution.  Actually owning music is already becoming a thing of the past – with increased wifi and wireless coverage rendering any smart mobile device into an on demand personal jukebox.  This comes without the need to ever download and, in most cases – purchase, any music.  Leading the next wave of on-demand music delivery are three innovative startups – each approaching the landscape from very different angles – and in so doing, providing consumers with a variety of novel ways to experience new music.

SoundCloud

Founded in 2008, SoundCloud is the leading social sound platform with over 20 million registered users1. Referred to early on as the “YouTube of audio”2, SoundCloud enables users to record any sound – whether that be a music record, full album, demo instrumentals, or even a live set.  The audio file is then uploaded onto SoundCloud’s servers and then available for streaming across any computer or mobile device.  SoundCloud is a way for new artists to get their music out to a wider array of fans (think the next gen distribution platform previously provided by MySpace) and for established artists to consolidate some of their non-core activities such as podcasts, remixed tracks, and live concert recordings.   Whether you’re looking for Swedish House Mafia’s set from Coachella, a teaser from Usher’s soon to be released single, or Kaskade’s weekly mix, SoundCloud has it all – and does so with fervent artist support – often a rarity in the world of “free music.”   In addition, Soundcloud’s API enables virtually any website to embed a SoundCloud player on their page – greatly broadening the platform’s reach around the web without login requirements.

Like virtually all social networks, SoundCloud allows users to follow one another – providing a live update feed of all the latest tracks and sets from their favorite artists.  Also, fans can insert text comments directly into the audio feed – providing means to actually communicate with musicians through the music and enabling a real-time conversation that can act as beta test for new songs.  Comments like “love the beat drop here”, “this guitar riff works well”, and “speed up the tempo” are common and represent the ability to crowd source feedback – which can be very helpful for up and coming artists.  The band R.E.M. even launched a crowd sourced contest to remix tracks from their recent album2.

Perhaps most important to fueling user growth among the masses is continuing to ensure that top artists remain engaged on the site.  To that end, SoundCloud offers an array of data analytics tools for premium members to get detailed dashboards such as who is listening to their music, what demographics they are popular with, and where their music is being shared.  This is also SoundCloud’s primary monetization form at the moment – charging for premium monthly subscriptions to the small % of users who want access to this toolkit and ability to upload more content on the servers.  Some speculate that with their latest partnership with payments company Adyen2, the company may pivot into a platform for selling individual tracks a la iTunes and Amazon, but the company remains mum on their strategic direction.  Regardless, SoundCloud still represents a great means to connect with your favorite artists and opens up an entirely new channel of music that you’ll never be able to find in stores.

Check it out at: www.soundcloud.com.

 

Turntable.fm

Turntable came virtually out of nowhere when it launched to rave reviews in the summer of 2011.  Drawing huge word of mouth interest among the tech set in Silicon Valley, the site experienced incredibly fast growth and within just 3 months was streaming over 1 million songs per day3.  Much of this was due to the fact that turntable had ushered in a new form of digital music: synchronous listening.

The site is based around the concept of a DJ chat room.  When a user logs into the site, they create a profile and select an avatar, a character design not unlike those seen on the Nintendo Wii.  Next, they can join or create a DJ room.  It is here where the magic happens.  The room itself looks like a cartoon version of a club / small concert hall– a dance floor at the back with a DJ booth at the front with giant animated speakers propping up the stage.  Users can hop up on the decks by clicking on one of the 5 available slots above the turntables.  Next, they can either select songs from the turntable database or even upload their own tracks.  Along with the other DJs, they will then be responsible for curating and delivering music to any other users in the room – who are all listening real time.

It is this concept of shared listening that drives the uniqueness of the platform.  No longer are you plugged into your own playlist, listening by yourself.  Suddenly you have the opportunity to stream your music to up to 100 people all at once.  It is akin to bringing the concert experience to the desktop (and mobile device with their app).  The idea that you listening alongside your friends or family or even strangers completely changes how you digest the music as it imitates the same “buzz” you’d experience at a live show.  Social mechanisms on the site also reinforce this.  A live chat window allows users to be in constant communication while a meter at the bottom lets them either “Awesome” or “Lame” a song – too many “Lame” clicks from the crowd and the song skips to the next DJ.  There’s a bit of an endorphin rush as a DJ when you start a track and the crowd starts responding excitedly in the chat window.  Additionally, when you click “Awesome”, your avatar starts to bob its head up and down – seeing a wave of avatars doing this in unison means the crowd is rocking out to your selection.  While this does not make one a digital Tiesto, it sure feels like it – and it’s that notion that keeps me coming back for more.

Find me on: www.turntable.fm (My username is Mateofish)

 

Playground

If we think about the streaming music spectrum, on one side is On Demand listening.  Spotify is the best example of this – a service that features limitless choice in song selection, and by definition enables the highest degree of customization in curating playlists.  Users must actively pick and choose what they want to hear by building up a playlist one song at a time.

On the other side is Leanback listening.  Pandora and other internet radio services sit here and require minimal user engagement – simply enter the type of music you want listen to, sit back, and consume whatever the service deems relevant to your initial query.

Music services have to date largely clustered around these two ends of the spectrum – presenting a gap in the middle that the team at Playground is looking to fill with their app called Playground.  Playground is based on the concept of personalized playlist discovery – the notion that people want to listen to music that is relevant to their tastes and preferences, while not wanting to have to build their own library.  From a user experience standpoint, playground’s mechanics are very simple and easy to use.  Upon logging in, users are presented with a beautifully laid out set of tiles that represent playlists that other users on the service have created.  Overlaid is the playlist name as well as a representative track – e.g. “Energy Mix” (Deadmau5 – Some Chords).  Like many streaming companies, Playground functions on an internet radio license – meaning that users cannot see the track ahead of them, and they can only skip tracks a limited number of times within a given playlist.

The nuts and bolts of the service are what drive its value beyond simply being a more social form of Pandora.  By using Facebook Connect, Playground is able to gather insights about your listening habits on other music services – and uses this information in conjunction with internal data in its algorithm to constantly deliver you the most relevant playlists on your homepage.  In essence, the service is able to offer users the best of both worlds – allowing greater pick up and play than Spotify, and analytics that have the potential to drive greater playlist relevance than Pandora.  As Playground Founder Vivek Agrawal notes – “With Spotify, the music content is unsurpassed in terms of volume, but getting what you want is difficult.  With Playground, we’ve provided a means to shortcut the playlist building process and allowing users to quickly get to the content they want.”  As the company begins to explore various business model functions around the service, Agrawal notes that a dual model makes sense – free with ads, while a modest monthly subscription would allow for exclusive content and no ads.  In the meantime, the company continues to hammer out new updates to its beta release so don’t miss out on being a part of the early user base by downloading Playground from the Apple App Store or checking it out their site www.playground.fm.

 

[1] SoundCloud CrunchBase Profile http://www.crunchbase.com/company/soundcloud

[2] Steve O’Hear, “Monetization Baby: SoundCloud Planning To Let Users Sell Tracks? Adyen Chosen To Power Payments (Updated).” Aug. 13th, 2012.http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/13/monetization-baby-soundcloud-planning-to-let-users-sell-tracks-adyen-chosen-to-power-payments/

[3] Alexia Tsotis, “Billy Chasen And Seth Goldstein: Turntable.fm Was Less Of A Pivot And More Of A Restart.” Sept 14th, 2011. http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/14/billy-chasen-and-seth-goldstein-turntable-fm-was-less-of-a-pivot-and-more-of-a-restart/


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