Streaming Rivalry Heats Up, Race To Refine Mobile Services

Over the past year, music streaming services have increased their market share immensely, but their fate is tied to mobile. “This coming year is all about mobile,” says Xappmedia CEO Pat Higbie, “it’s about who’s going to take advantage of mobile and bring convenient interaction to the table.”

Right now, mobile makes consumption of digital streaming music that much easier for both diehard and nominal music fans.

One of the biggest factors influencing the digital streaming space right now is the level of competition — Pandora appears to be taking the gloves off after Spotify stopped their audience acquisition in its tracks this year.

With the space heating up between those two, as well as gauntlets thrown by newcomers Apple Music and YouTube Red, Higbie says it will be some time before any significant increase in ad load happens from any front.

2015 was also a big year for programmatic radio. However, the exchanges that have launched aren’t fully real-time, and probably won’t be for some time.

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Higbie believes that the digital streaming market needs to be about two-and-a-half times bigger in order for technology like programmatic trading to really gain a foothold. “Some of the players are pre-selling audio inventory in big chunks,” he says -- leaving little left for programmatic trading.

Each of the major streaming services also has their own specialty says Higbie: Spotify does excellent audience acquisition, Pandora is a leader in local advertising, YouTube just plain knows music, and Apple has access to near unlimited resources.

However, “with all of Apple’s resources, streaming is not their No. 1 priority. They’re sort of doing it with their left hand, but they might be doing more acquisitions in the future.”

In all, says Higbie, the service that can create the best user experience on mobile, while acquiring a large share of the radio listeners migrating to the Internet, will have the firmest foothold next year.

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