Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 1:40pm
RAIN Summits included the "International Trends in Online Audio" panel in Sunday's RAIN Summit West program because of the positive response to last fall's RAIN Summit Europe (as well as to serve as a preview for this year's Europe event).
Turns out, what these online radio professionals viewed as some of their biggest challenges mirror those in the U.S.: high content costs and complex regulations (royalties), those costs' drag on their companies' profitability, revenue beyond ads and subscriptions, and the prospect of an Apple entry into the space.
CEO of Berlin-based webcaster AUPEO!, Holger Weiss (pictured right), admitted licensing across borders is a steep challenge. He said it's a long, arduous process, yet his service is licensed in 40 countries, so it can be done.
Radionomy VP/Business Development Thierry Ascarez agreed there are "solutions out there, it can be done." His company provides a platform for hobbyist and smaller professional webcasters to create and stream their own online stations.
Saavn co-founder Paramdeep Singh (pictured left) described the especially difficult circumstances in India: "We have deals with over 900 record labels, as there's no one-stop for licensing in India. Labels and artists think we're hugely profitable, so they want lots of money."
So what about that money? How do these business leaders intend to increase revenues?
Radionomy's Ascarez described his company's advertising platform in which it splits ad revenues with those webcasters whose audiences surpass a minimum threshold (incentivizing good content).
"There are unique opportunities for monetization beyond ads and subscriptions," said Singh, whose Saavn service streams Bollywood and Tamil Cinema music. He says his company partners with carriers as a "use case" and a benefit to upgrading to a data plan (of India's 800 million mobile customers, only about 50 million have data plans).
"Who'll finance (these types of services) until the ad revenues make it profitable?," wondered Weiss. "It's not great and fantastic yet. We're not profitable yet. We have to think beyond pure advertising and subscription. Advertising is not the only way to make money. We'll see this in 2013," he said.
The AUPEO! CEO teased a Monday announcement about his company "working with" Panasonic, saying services could create new revenue streams by bundling the service with device makers, especially for the car. What we learned Monday is Panasonic has actually acquired AUPEO! for its in-dash audio entertainment platform.
Live365 CEO Hong Lau, experienced in business in China, illustrated the opportunities in that country. "It's not a lot different there than here," he said. He explained that phones are considerably cheaper, and there are hardly any significant online audio services there.
Moderator Ali Abhary (right), CEO of Spectrum Medya in Turkey, concluded by asking his panelists how they view a potential webcasting competitor in Apple.
Saavn's Singh said his company's specialized music libraries aren't easy for a new competitor to relicate. "It took us years to aggregate our content."
Weiss agreed. "You can win in a fight (with Apple), which can't copy you, but "can only buy you if you're niche."
We'll continue to recap the content from Sunday's RAIN Summit West in the coming days here in RAIN.