Streaming to Mobile: Flycast

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flycast_storm_playing_hiphop1FlyCast (originally called FlyTunes) has made a breakthrough in the field of streaming to mobile devices. The service requires use of a data plan that can handle the streaming, but other than that it is completely free. That brings a lot to the table since there are over 1200 Shoutcast stations that can be accessed through the app, and — here’s the first innovation — it’s at CD quality!

Of course, like any Internet-driven service of this nature, the big question for them is, “How do you monetize the service?” The answer is streaming ads.

Via Kevin Parrish at Tom’s Hardware:

“FlyCast is offered free because it’s our goal to have the largest possible audience listening to our member stations,” FlyCast VP of Marketing Roy Smith told Tom’s Hardware. “We are the very first company to perfect the ability to deliver web-style targeted advertising to a “broadcast” audience. We do this by taking advantage of the fact that everyone who is listening has a unique IP address, and when we ask you for basic demographic information (age, sex, location), we now have the ability to serve you ads that “demographically” will appeal to you.”

Audio ads, when they begin insertion of them, are only supposed to be 2-3 minutes of advertising per hour, as opposed to the overall standard of broadcast where audio ads are 15 minutes out of every hour. In addition, FlyCast will be displaying graphic ads on the iPhone, Blackberry, Treo or other device while playing. An interesting two-prong strategy that looks like it could have some legs.

More from the Parrish interview:

“In fact, with our average user listening for 45 minutes per session, we have the opportunity to display thousands of graphic ads per session,” he [Smith] added. “Of course, most people don’t look at their phone or iPod while listening, so these ads are far less valuable from an advertiser standpoint, but still worthwhile.” In some ways that is correct, but when consumers listen to a good song and view the information displayed on-screen, that’s a buck in the music industry’s pocket if the listener clicks through and purchases the song online.

That seems like very little regard for the graphics. At least it did until I thought about the number of songs I have purchased after hearing them on my iPhone. An already impressive number, and one that would, I am sure, go up if I did not have to make a note to look for it later. Never underestimate the power of the impulse buy.

The thing that I am excited about though is the fact that this is a means of raising cash for the ever contentious RIAA royalties for streaming.

According to Smith, FlyCast will actually help save both the recording industry and the radio industry. “The music played on all of our stations generates royalties that the stations pay to RIAA and ultimately a tiny percentage of that actually gets back to the original artists,” he said. “In general, the terrestrial radio world has been slumping and Internet broadcasters have never been able to monetize their streams because they lack that local advertising component. FlyCast solves these problems, and this is why we have been able to sign up heavyweight broadcasters like Entercom (117 stations, most are top station in their market).”

It’s no secret that I am a huge booster of Internet as well as radio.  In fact, I would  say that fully 50% of my listening is done online while typing out the entries for both this and other blogs. As sticky as things have been with the ongoing  drama between webcasters and the RIAA, anything that looks like making a positive contribution to the matter is something to be glad of.

Now, as always after CES, to watch and see how well the implementation goes…

Photo courtesy of the FlyCast Website Press Page

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