Podcasts Define Web 2.0 Music – billions of downloads each year

The figures are in and the results are inspiring. Old media, large (Murdoch) and small (regional newspapers), are moaning that the web is ruining their business. Radio stations, meanwhile, blow large trumpets about 1% gains in audience share.

Wizard Media podcast digital downloadsThe reality is that the public have been given real choices by Web 2.0 and are moving on from old media. Two quick examples:

  • Wizard Media announce digital downloads increase in one quarter from 241m to 350m
  • Trance Around The World podcast has 21 million listeners per week

Wizard were very happy with a 45% increase in downloads but also announced a very solid 41% increase in audience (5.3 million). Meanwhile, advertising impressions served by Wizard grew from 3.9 million in the second quarter of 2008 to 13.7 million in the second quarter of 2009, an increase of 251%.

Trance Around The World is the podcast from Above & Beyond, a weekly mix available through iTunes or from their own website. Their podcast sits alongside others by Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Paul van Dyk, Paul Okenfold and hundreds other national and international trance stars.

Therefore TATW is successful in a very competitive market, while 21 million listeners would be an extraordinary achievement for most radio stations. TATW is enabled by the most significant brand of the decade – Apple. Lest you object, look at a few examples of the activity around Steve Jobs:

  • Apple iPod podcast digital downloadsApple is 45 times more profitable than Dell
  • iTunes sells more music than Walmart
  • iPhone and iPod features and quality have revolutionised mobile technology
  • Pixar is the most succesful and profitable studio of the past decade
  • Apple is 6 times more popular as a social brand than Microsoft

While Web 2.0 provided a wonderful potential, it is companies like Apple and YouTube who have defined and raised the standards so much higher than anyone else. And the biggest winners are the public – the music listeners and video viewers – who can choose exactly what they wish to download or stream. Further, the public can now enjoy what they want without the interference of the taste bias or old-media commercial ‘necessities’ of a production or advertising team.

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Top Social Brands exposed – what the statistics really mean

The ongoing attempts of social media marketeers to hype themselves may be failing. The much-discussed Top 50 Social Brands is no such thing. Yes, Social Radar may have done all the right things in terms of gathering information, but the results are disastrous.

First of all, the numbers. As the chart below clearly shows, only the Top 10 have any real significance. Thereafter everything is squabbling over half percentage points. Being below No.15 and being below 16% “score” of the leader is irrelevant.

Excerpt from Top 50 Social Brands

Excerpt from Top 50 Social Brands

The next issue concerns the Top 3 – they are enablers. The product or service of Twitter is not social media – only 4% of tweets are retweets, therefore tweets are an online soapbox. Tweets are a public version of a text message – 96% are ephemeral and inconsequential.

Google is also not social media. Google gathers information about web content, whatever and wherever. There is no social structure or filtering and therefore no social media benefit. Providing a list of 33,900,000 results of a search for “social media” is meaningless.

Facebook is an extensive federation of private clubs, each discussing their own introspective interests. Millions of people have joined Facebook, but millions of people have also joined large denomination churches. To say one is social media and the other not is to reveal the fallacy behind the way statistics are being filtered.

Excerpt from Virtue 100 Top Social Brands

Excerpt from Virtue 100 Top Social Brands

There are some very interesting and relevant results in the surveys, however. And they’re all from the same supplier:

  • iPhone
  • Mac
  • Apple
  • iTunes
  • iPod

For any one brand to receive multiple entries in the Top 10 lists of social media from a variety of sources is of enormous importance. Apple have dominated every sector of business they enter in terms of quality. They have consistently been the Rolls Royce of computer companies, but iTunes revolutionised digital music and went on to become the leading retailer.

The iPhone revolutionised mobile phones, bringing the Macintosh quality, ease of use and market-leading features to set levels well above those previously achieved. Similarly the iPod set new standards of quality and profitability for portable digital music players.

BUT and this really is a big BUT, which other brands appear on both lists in the Top 15?

None? So we’ve said a score below 16% of the leader is irrelevant. We’ve said the Top 3 of the Social Radar list are not “true” social brands, which seems to be supported by Virtue who say: “The Vitrue 100 is measuring companies that are using social technology, not those who are the technology.”

We would argue that YouTube should be included in the Virtue results as it provides actual product and its service is public and definitely one of the best examples of social media.

In short, then, there are only two TOP social brands – Apple and YouTube. Let’s see what 2010 and the rest of the twenty-tens reveal.

Top 10 Music of the Decade

There are plenty of Top 10 lists of pop or metal or trance or other styles of music. Yet the Noughties is the decade of most change in the history of music. There are plenty of other milestones throughout the course of music history but there is one enormous difference in the decade just gone.

Our top 10 list therefore is not an attempt to compare classical music milestones versus hip hop, or to say that Britney Spears has been the most influential musician on the planet (although planet-wide searches would seem to suggest just that as Britney topped search engine lists from many countries in various years throughout the decade).  However, “planet-wide” is a clue to our focus:

For the first time ever it has been possible for a significant event in music to be available to virtually every country on the planet. This means every fan now has the chance to be connected to musicians to whatever degree they like.

The importance of this fact is revealed in the way Google search top 10 lists will now include manga from Japan alongside a Spanish social network platform. Goodbye president of the United States or British royalty.

Web 2.0 imageNo longer can the traditional newspapers and magazines determine our topics of conversation, nor how wide or deep we follow our interests. Therefore our Top 10 Music of the Decade is as much about context (aka access) as about content.

1. Web 2.0
Without the astonishing array of software and platforms now available, most of the list below would not exist.

Apple iTunes image2. iTunes and Podcasts
Apple not only destroyed the music distribution cartels and marketing-led charts, it provided an enormous doorway into niche interests that had previously been in back corners of just a few music retailers. With anywhere up to 80% market share of digital downloads, depending on country, no-one comes close to Apple in modern music distribution.

But as well as obscure blues or folk or world music, Podcasts enabled millions of fans to access millions of ‘broadcasters’ from ABC or the BBC through to Stephen Fry or “How Stuff Works”. Never before has such a range of high-quality music and special-interest broadcasts been available from one platform and at zero or minimal cost.

Apple iPod image3. iPod
Sony was a great pioneer of portable music with the Walkman but the sheer simplicity and elegance of the iPod, coupled with Dolby quality sound and access-anywhere distribution, lifted the device head and shoulders above the competition.

Last.FM image4. Last.FM
While most other music-streaming services encountered problems (Pandora blocked outside the USA, imeem shut down, Spotify’s failures), Last.FM has stayed at the forefront with a hard-to-beat mix of excellent music, startlingly accurate analysis of music styles and recommendations, plus great social-network features.

YouTube Profile image5. YouTube
With millions of views on millions of video clips every day, plus a huge percentage of those views being of music-related clips, YouTube has overtaken and greatly extended the place previously occupied by MTV.

MySpace Music image6. MySpace
Although no longer the main source for unsigned music and fan information, MySpace is still one of the important channels.

Twitter on iPhone image7. Twitter
There have been a number of social and political scoops via Twitter but for music the Rage Against The Machine campaign (#RATM and #ratm4xmas) resulted in the first singles chart No.1 ever that was exclusively due to digital downloads. Although the concept was announced via Facebook, the Twitter campaign made RATM a trending topic, helping encourage over 500,000 people to download the song Killing In The Name. The RATM campaign was able to outsell 19 million X Factor fans.

Sony Ericsson W850 Walkman image8. Mobile Phone
The iPhone astounded and outsold most individual models of the entrenched and complacent mobile phone companies, as well as delivering one great benefit – most mobiles are now very capable portable music devices. What Apple, iTunes, iPod and the iPhone created has been adopted by every major mobile technology company. Users have Apple to thank for that particular music revolution.

Peer-to-Peer image9. Peer-to-Peer
Although the fundamental question of whether an owner of a song or movie should be allowed to share it with friends is still being debated, the online sharing and download technologies were advanced enormously during the development of peer-to-peer. It is likely that most P2P will be replaced by streaming platforms in the near future, but no review of the Noughties is complete without a Top 10 rank for peer-to-peer.

Wikipedia Ying Yang image10. Blogs and Wikipedia
There are a few print magazines that cover specific genres of music but keen fans now use blogs and other online sources for information, everything from detailed histories and biographies on Wikipedia through to instant updates via Twitter.

Why Twitter desperately needs YouTube and blogs – Social Media 2009 part 3

Although there have been some excellent and powerful examples of the communication benefits of the Twitter platform, most usage is casual (“just got home”, “just saw … in a shop window”). Therefore most usage on Twitter is little different to a status update on MySpace of Facebook.

There are also significant tweets that relate to information other than updates for family, friends or acquired followers. Sometimes that content becomes a trending topic, especially if tweets include hashtags. Even in those cases, however, Twitter is not the important part of the communication:

  • tweets are signposts
  • YouTube or blogs are the main destination
  • TwitPic or TweetPhoto (etc) are service stops
  • tweets are enhanced SMS messages

Twitter has many good points, however, and can be seen as a platform that provides options for:

  • replacing multiple one-to-one phone communication
  • replacing multiple SMS texts
  • an alternative to email (DM etc)
  • allowing status updates to be fully public

The last point is why Facebook has changed its privacy options. Once Google started to include Twitter content into search results, techies and CEOs on every other platform rushed to get on the “public trending” bandwagon.

As part 1 of this series showed, Google is in decline. However, search and trend are still big business and so big money. But as imeem and MySpace have found out in 2009, finances can go into decline once the Google dollars dry up.

If Twitter and/or MySpace and/or Google are to stop their decline or even recover, they need something solid. As web users have shown, they want content. In the past they were happy with the haphazard results of a search engine. But today’s web users will abandon one platform and try another, all within the space of 12 months.

Conclusion: crafted content is essential for success.

YouTube, BlogSpot, Twitter statistics for 2009

YouTube, BlogSpot, Twitter statistics for 2009

In other words, the way YouTube and blogs wrap content within context is the most likely model to succeed into the new decade. Magazines and newspapers were great at content delivery a few decades ago. The only ones making good money today tend to be in particular niche markets (finance, technology, entertainment, fashion, music, lifestyle, etc).

So called “general interest” newspapers and magazines with their social or political bias are in decline. We would rather gather our news from a selection of RSS feeds. Those feeds may come from established newspapers or magazines but will be balanced with feeds from special-interest blogs or a variety of world sources.

Social Media 2009 Executive Summary
The main sources of quality content in the next decade will come from WordPress, BlogSpot and YouTube, plus the new services that develop from those platforms and their ilk.

Why YouTube is more important than Facebook – Social Media 2009 part 2

The inter-relationship between MySpace and YouTube may be almost equal. The much better delivery of music videos on YouTube has probably helped reduce the number of views on MySpace, so contributed to the large increase in views on YouTube. The user experience on YouTube for someone who wants to hear and view music is also much cleaner and faster than on MySpace.

While MySpace remains a useful fanspace and gig resource, the decline in popularity has resulted in significant lost revenue, followed by the purchase and collapse of imeem. MySpace will remain relevant for music and niche marketing but:

  • many bands now use blogs for key information delivery
  • many bands now use Facebook for status updates

MySpace and Facebook continue to provide marketing and fanspace updates, yet YouTube captures astonishing numbers of viewers, again reflecting positive choices. Compared to Facebook, however, YouTube offers the high quality of a subscription service, without cost to the users:

  • YouTube Channels
  • YouTube Playlists
  • YouTube integration with other social media

The YouTube numbers are staggering. Yes, Facebook may have achieved monthly traffic of 90 million in 2009 but YouTube can achieve 90 million views on just one clip. For example Miley Cyrus has achieved 146 million views in 2009 with just two songs – The Climb (64m) and Party In The U.S.A. (54m) and those numbers will continue to rise.

Conclusion: YouTube is currently the most important social media platform.

MySpace, YouTube, Facebook statistics for 2009

MySpace, YouTube, Facebook statistics for 2009

Why WordPress and YouTube matter more than Google – Social Media 2009 part 1

Yes, there has been an explosion of users on Facebook and Twitter during 2009, yet other statistics drop those two platforms into the background. Even with millions of users and rapid growth, the monthly traffic on Twitter has already started to decline.

Our three linked posts provide a thumbnail sketch of growth and change at the end of the decade. They are approximations, best-guesses based on a wide variety of data collection methods. However, even if the numbers are incorrect by a few percent, we are not looking for numerical accuracy. Our interest is in comparing the trends and the relationships between the different platforms.

The chart below shows monthly traffic on Google has increased slightly over the past 2-and-a-half years. The more significant numbers are:

  • twice the number of people now use YouTube
  • WordPress has trebled its international user base

Google, one could argue, should have increased as a result of the increased usage on the other major platforms. Our hypothesis is that Google only provides links to content, while the other platforms have distinct advantages:

  • YouTube and WordPress are destinations, positive choices
  • YouTube and WordPress provide better context
  • YouTube and WordPress provide their own internal search and browse functions

In other words we suggest that Google is used mainly by newcomers or by those searching for content types that are new to them. Even Google being pre-loaded onto new PCs and browsers has not resulted in a dramatic rise, despite millions of new PCs and users over the chart period. Conclusion: Google is actually in decline.

Google, YouTube, WordPress statistics for 2009

Google, YouTube, WordPress statistics for 2009

2 years of astonishing growth – YouTube and FaceBook crush MySpace

At the start of 2007, MySpace, Google and YouTube were close to level-pegging for worldwide web traffic. FaceBook was barely on the radar.

One year later, YouTube was running at twice the traffic, while FaceBook had caught up with the other two.

At the start of 2009, FaceBook has caught YouTube, while MySpace is close to declining. The success of YouTube started with a lot of fairly juvenile and fun content, but now it exceeds MySpace for great music content, and good film resources, and, well, the whole of life – almost.

YouTube probably has the market locked tight for genre and niche content – all readily available, easy to find, and with good stepping stones to similar items. FaceBook, on the other hand, has captured both the tweenies market – great networking and mesmerising apps – and the family networking crown.

Prediction for the next 12 months: Blogs will catch up with MySpace, especially if FaceBook ever work out how to get a Blogroll to work properly.
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