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RAIN 4/19: Digital music space portrayed as highly challenging by RAIN Summit expert panelists

Posted on: 04/19/2011


While panelists in the closing RAIN Summit West discussion — “The Future of Music” — portrayed the space as ripe with challenges, the panel was one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking of the day. Leading webcaster Ari Shohat of Digitally Imported joined Eric Johnson of Wolfgang’s Vault, Anu Kirk of subscription streaming service MOG and Michael Robertson of Mp3Tunes. Ted Cohen of TAG Strategic moderated the discussion.

The panelists painted a somewhat stark and challenging future for music services. Robertson asserted that high music royalties (the music industry “outfoxed” everyone in the room, he said) would keep music services like Pandora from ever being “major profit machines.”

MOG’s Anu Kirk spoke on the challenges of subscription services, noting how difficult it is just to get people to pay $5 a month for music (especially compared to the hundreds they pay for cable). “Most people don’t really care about music that much,” he said. “A small amount of people pay a lot for music.”

Robertson said he instead favors the “freemium” model, in which he offers a free product and an additional subscription service without limitations.

However, Digitally Imported’s Air Shohat pointed out that the conversion rates for his serivce remain between 1-3%. The other panelists agreed — “you’re a genius” if you get 3% conversion, said Robertson.

Wolfgang’s Vault’s Eric Johnson argued that the music industry will have to embrace new services, otherwise users will turn to illegal sources. Robertson remained skeptical though, arguing that the music industry is “chasing an era from the past” and trying to stop “an iceberg from melting in the desert.”

Though this was the last panel of RAIN Summit West, we’re nowhere near finished with our coverage from the conference. Stay tuned for more in the days ahead!


RAIN publisher and AccuRadio CEO Kurt Hanson (pictured right) will host the second day of Radio Ink‘s Tech Summit. The Tech Summit will be held on May 17-18 at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus in Mountain View, CA. It immediately precedes Radio Ink‘s annual Convergence conference, which takes place May 18-19. Radio Ink has more information right here.


Chevy’s 2013 Malibu will support GM’s new MyLink system, which streaming Internet radio content from Pandora and Stitcher to your dashboard via a connected mobile device.

Announced in September and already rolling-out to cars equipped with GM’s OnStar system, MyLink is the much like Ford’s Sync in that it offers voice-command control of Internet radio playback (RAIN coverage here).


Sirius XM agreed as part of their merger in 2008 to devote 4% of their channels to outside companies.

It was announced yesterday that these channels will include two urban stations — created by Washington D.C.‘s Howard University and WHUT-TV — and three Spanish stations — two from Eventus-National Latino Broadcasting and one from WorldBand Media. KTV Radio will create a Korean music and talk channel while BYU from Salt Lake City will create a Mormon station. The Hill has more coverage here.

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Conference schedules
Sep. 12 SF Music Tech Summit: San Francisco, CA
Sep. 13 RAIN Summit Chicago @ NAB/RAB RadioShow: Chicago, IL
Sep. 14-16 NAB/RAB RadioShow: Chicago, IL
Sep. 24 IBS Radio/Webcast Conf.: Chicago, IL
Oct. 6-7 Digital Music Forum West: Los Angeles, CA
Oct. 13-14 Digital Content Summit/Music: New York, NY
Oct. 18-22 CMJ Music Marathon: New York, NY
Oct. 27-30 CBI Fall Convention: Orlando, FL
Nov. 5 IBS Radio/Webcast Conf.: Boston, MA
Nov. 19 IBS Radio/Webcast Conf.: New York, NY
Dec. 3 IBS Radio/Webcast Conf.: Los Angeles, CA