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RAIN 3/30: RAIN Summit adds interactive media expert Presslaff, DI.fm and Soma FM founders, legal expert Oxenford

Posted on: 03/30/2010


We’re just 13 days out from our annual RAIN Summit West, Internet radio’s premiere educational and networking gathering, and today we announce six more industry leaders whose participation in the conference will help make it our best Summit yet.

The webcasting platform has yet to develop a single, definitive revenue model, and as such, there are significant players making money (or trying to) with different revenue models: ad-supported, donations-based, “freemium/premium” hybrids, and pure subscription-based. We’ve just added a new panel to the agenda, “Exploring Internet Radio’s Business Models.” Appearing on the panel will be the founders of two of the most-listened to and most visible independent webcasters (both with very different revenue models), Ari Shohat (founder of Digitally Imported) (above right) and Rusty Hodge, Soma FM founder (left). David Oxenford, one of radio’s foremost authorities on Internet radio’s legal landscape, will moderate the panel. He represented the Small Commerical Webcaster group in royalty negotiations, and is a D.C.-based partner at Davis Wright Tremaine.

We’re happy to announce SNL Kagan senior analyst Robin Flynn (who manages SNL Kagan’s Cable TV and Broadcast divisions) (pictured right) and Triton VP/Strategy Jim Kerr (left) will also moderate panels at the Summit. Kerr will take the “Building Brands Online / Building Online Brands” panel, while Flynn handles the “Improving Online Revenues” panel.

Also joining us, Ruth Presslaff (at right), founder of Presslaff Interactive Revenue and a leading expert in interactive technology and database marketing. She’ll take part in the “Attracting Local Advertisers” panel.

RAIN Summit West takes place in the Renaissance Hotel in Las Vegas on April 12, 10am-7pm. It’s an official co-located event of the NAB Show and promises to be our best Summit yet! You can find out more about the Summit here, register here then RSVP on Facebook here.


BYO.fm — for “Bring Your Own — will stream music listeners already own, and add in a customizable selection of news, sports, and weather reports, and even a choice of voice announcers, to create personalized online radio stations.

[Michael Robertson is the entrepreneur who founded MP3.com and recently sold his VoIP startup Gizmo5 to Google. His MP3Tunes.com offers customers online music lockers in which they can store music they upload for access on other machines and mobile devices. It’s currently the target of an EMI lawsuit.]

Robertson has been a vocal critic of most Internet radio business models, insisting that it’s impossible to cover sound recording performance royalties with revenue based on current ad rates and subscription adoption. Though CNet journalist Greg Sandoval’s coverage of this story doesn’t explicitly spell it out, it appears Robertson is banking on the idea that since the music is already owned by the listener, it’s not subject to the encumbering royalties under which other webcasters operate.

Sandoval reports BYO will get non-music content from the user’s favorite sites, and the audio reports will be generated by text-to-speech technology from Cepstral. “BYO users are even allowed to choose their broadcaster’s voice. The service offers a variety of different digital voices, including one that sounds like U.S. President Barack Obama,” according to CNet. “BYO is compatible with iPhones, Android-based devices, and Internet radios, such as Logitech’s Squeezebox.”

Read more in CNet here.


A new study indicates more than 2 in 5 Americans now own an iPod or other MP3 device, and that over half of them have connected the device to a car’s audio system for use while driving.

Arbitron and Edison Research, in the latest edition of their annual “Infinite Dial” studies, found that 44% of Americans 12 and older own a digital music device, and 54% of them have chosen to use it as an in-car audio source. That comes out to nearly 25% of 12+ in the U.S.

Infinite Dial 2010 is the 18th in a series of studies Arbitron and Edison have conducted since 1998 on topics related to the Internet and New Media. The two companies will present their findings in a free webinar Thursday April 8th at 2pm ET. Register here.

Tom Webster of Edison Media Research will moderate the panel “Beyond the Tower: Extending Your Audio Reach” at RAIN Summit West, RAIN’s annual industry gathering, Monday April 12 in Las Vegas (during the NAB Show). Agenda and registration info is available here.


Earlier this month, radio expert Sean Ross (pictured right) penned a column considering the possibility that Internet radio’s low ad spotload could pressure broadcasters to cut back. “Commercial FM music broadcasters must come to the realization today that the present 12-14 minutes of spots an hour will not be tenable much longer. And for many listeners they are untenable already,” he wrote (RAIN coverage here). Ross’ thoughts sparked reactions from a number of radio experts and analysts, including Triton Digital Media’s VP/Strategy Jim Kerr, Mark Ramsey and radio veteran Steve Burgess.

Kerr, in Radio-Info.com (here), points out that “terrestrial radio streamers have roughly twice the TSL as Pandora listeners, even with triple the commercial load,” but agrees that “the threshold of annoyance” must be examined. Ramsey (pictured left) argues (here) the discussion should center on content, not ads: “placing the emphasis on spotloads is entirely on the wrong side of the value ledger. We should focus on what audiences are listening for, not what they’re listening in spite of.” Finally, Burgess writes (here) that this problem may “grow exponentially” once in-car Internet radio reaches a tipping point (sometime around 2014). At that point, Net radio will be a “realistic alternative” to AM/FM and it will be simple to make the switch.

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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