Online radio service Earbits today released an Android mobile app that mixes music delivered by Earbits with the music in listeners' collections. This expansion beyond the web means more discovery possibilities for indie musicians using the service. In addition, Earbits shares data on the increased fan engagement resulting from use of their new social currency called Groovies. I spoke earlier this week with Earbits CEO Joey Flores who filled in additional details on the news.
Earbits' focus is promoting indie music. Music is licensed directly from artists who offer the music for free. In return Earbits supports artists' promotional efforts by gathering emails, rewarding listeners for social engagement such as Facebook shares and providing artists with as much data as possible. Earbits' revenue comes from artists who want additional promotion on the service.
Earbits Launches Android Mobile App
Though Earbits previously experimented with mobile apps, their new Earbits for Android app is the first serious effort that builds on their established strengths. According to today's announcement:
"After installing the mobile app, consumers receive music channel recommendations based on existing songs stored on their mobile devices. Earbits then intelligently blends users’ songs into its 350 channels of commercial-free music...Consumers can play Earbits curated channels or songs on their mobile devices, switching seamlessly between their music and Earbits’ catalog. Unlike Pandora and other streaming music apps, the Earbits Android app is available worldwide."
According to Joey Flores, Earbits went with Android, in part, because Android is easier to develop for and they have a great relationship with Google. In addition, since they are able to offer their service internationally due to direct licensing with artists, Android facilitates a broader global reach.
Groovies Currency Dramatically Increases Engagement
Groovies, Earbits social currency, rewards listeners for a variety of social actions that help spread the word about bands' music. Listeners can use Groovies for such options as listening to whole albums by particular artists. Future options may include the ability for bands to offer perks in exchange for Groovies.
Flores explained that Groovies are integrated into the new mobile app though initially they don't include as wide a range of options as the web version. For now listeners can earn Groovies via mobile by sharing a track or joining a band's mailing list. The next step will include connection to social networks.
Groovies were launched on February 28th but already Earbits announced the following response:
-- Facebook fan acquisition rose 101%
-- Email list signups increased 261%
-- Song recommendations on Twitter increased 85.8%.
-- Overall Facebook sharing increased 29%
-- The percentage of users who share songs on Facebook and Twitter increased 20.6% and 36.5%, respectively.
Flores pointed out that many were sceptical when Groovies first launched because other services had tried gamification without success. However, he feels Groovies are working because they are tied into actions that support the bands and result in rewards that are integral to listeners' use of Earbits. Flores says listeners appreciate being rewarded.
The Value of Engaged Fans
Using data from a study by Vitrue, Earbits announcement explains the value of Groovies to promoted artists:
"The royalties received by music owners for 1,000 streams on Web broadcasters such as Pandora are a paltry $2.10 or less. After Groovies launched, labels and artists of Earbits Priority Airtime marketing services have averaged 8 Facebook fans and 16 mailing list signups for every 1,000 tracks streamed. The value of a Facebook fan is believed to be $3.60 or more, putting the estimated value of 1,000 streams on Earbits at more than $28.80 in Facebook fans alone."
Though the research is a bit dated, the point that engaged fans are typically worth more than random streams on a service like Spotify is well-taken.
New App & Groovies Could Take Earbits to Another Level of the Game
Earbits' focus on streaming music as a promotional service combined with rewards for users and information for artists means that their new app could unlock a great deal of value for indie artists. It could also take Earbits to a whole new level of listener engagement.
If you're interested in having your music on Earbits, you can start the submission process here.
- Earbits' Social Currency Lets Fans Get Music While Artists Get Data
- Joey Flores: Why Music Startups And Ad Networks Suffer From "Flavor Of The Month Syndrome"
- Deep Think: Joey Flores of Earbits on the Challenges of Building a Music Startup
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.