Friday, June 7, 2013

Music Streaming Service Slacker Makes Moves Toward Analytics

Image via CrunchBase
Liv Buli/Forbes

Streaming services are busting out analytics in order to increase their competitiveness in a fast-growing market.

Slacker radio, a U.S.-based music streaming service, announced on Thursday their latest foray into providing what they brand as the most complete music service out there – their “engagement quotient” score. Based on data gathered from the actions their users are taking when listening to music through the service, Slacker will be publishing weekly charts of top songs, across several genres including pop, electronic and country.

Jack Isquith, senior vice president of content programming and strategic development, said that for the past year they have been focused on harnessing the data they have been informally using to help determine station programming. “This data is far more sophisticated and rich than the data of the traditional music industry and chart methodology,” said Isquith, explaining that terrestrial radio uses methods such as call out research to gauge what people may or may not want to hear. Isquith describes this as “dirty data,” and says there is a clear need for a more accurate method of tracking audience engagement.

Slacker currently boasts a catalogue of more than 13 million songs, according to Isquith has about 30 million registered users, and somewhere between 5 to 6 million monthly active users. A recent article from Digital Music News cites their number of paying subscribers as around 560,000 in total. Slacker has 250 pre-programmed stations that are hosted and incorporate news, sports and weather programming, and users are able to create custom stations and stream tracks on-demand, depending on their level of subscription.

So what actions are Slacker tracking? The “secret sauce” of how they weigh the data is obviously a secret, but there are seven basic actions that Slacker’s user can perform. The metrics include the amount of times a track is started, when a song is listened to in full, the number of times a track is “hearted” or shared through social media, as well as negative actions such as skips, channel changes or an altogether ban.

As the music streaming service space becomes more and more established in North America, the varying services will continue to explore options for providing additional features in order to attract subscribers. Spotify for instance, in addition to recent investments in music discovery, publish charts of their most played tracks and recently introduced global play counts. We are likely to see more of these developments as the competition for new users of streaming services intensifies.

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