How is radio changing in the digital era? And how is the digital music industry drawing inspiration from radio as it evolves?
It's something we think about a lot, as a company that's heavily involved in - and, frankly, obsessed with - taking the best of traditional broadcasting/ audio and combining it with new technologies to work for audiences today and in the future.
Our heritage in building digital music services for clients around the world, coupled with expertise in production and radio technology, gives us a unique perspective on this but we wanted to ask others in the industry for their views.
We recently welcomed a group of expert speakers from Audible, BBC, audioBoom and Deezer to 7digital's London HQ to explore how the worlds of traditional broadcasting and digital music are colliding and drawing inspiration from each other.
What it seems we all agreed on is that traditional radio skills are not just augmenting streaming – they are proving how crucial it is to help audiences navigate the huge choice of music available online. The greater the curation, the more different tracks listeners will stream without skipping.
At 7digital, we believe that use of human curation and broadcast expertise isn't a nod to the past; it is a recognition of the 'lean-back' experience that mass market audiences want to have with music.
So what's next for radio?
The company was founded by Ben Drury and James Kane, offering digital music delivery B2B services. In the year following, 7digital was powering 180 stores for record labels and brands. Our fastest release ever was 46 mins from on-stage performance to sale in Dec 2005 as part of the Live 8 Guinness World Record.
7digital was powering 1,000 stores and made history by enabling Koopa to become the first unsigned act to make it into the top 40 charts on downloads alone. 7digital-powered service Now Play It won “Best Digital Service” award at the BT Digital Music Awards. 7digital signed a partnership with Last.fm and celebrated their first 1 million users on the platform. In 2008 7digital launched the global API and became the first European download store to offer Warner Music catalogue DRM-free.
7digital launched HMV music and video download stores in the UK and Canada, as well as an e-book store for Waterstones. Lost Tunes, powered by 7digital, won the ”Digital Achievement of the Year“ award at the Music Week Awards. We partnered with Songbird to provide an integrated MP3 store and built a mobile app on BlackBerry, which won the EMEA ”Innovation Award“. 7digital integrated MP3 downloads into AOL’s Winamp media player, HMV Group acquired 50% stake in 7digital for £7.7 million, we took part in the first ever Music Hack Day in London and celebrated 7 million tracks our catalogue.
7digital partnered with Shazam, we launched our own Android and iOS apps and developed a unique digital music experience for Samsung devices. Network operator O2 chose 7digital as their digital music partner in the UK and 7digital’s API powered services for 120 clients with 500 million API requests served.
In the following years 7digital expanded North American operations with key hires and launched Samsung Music Hub 3.0 in numerous territories. 7digital was selected as the music partner for Toshiba connected TV and we released the first digital music store on Windows 8.
7digital merged with award-winning radio company, UBC Media and went public on the LSE. We launched hi-res download stores for Panasonic and Onkyo, a Latin music radio service for SBS (Spanish Broadcasting System) and we confirmed a partnership with will.i.am.
7digital powered the launch of The Overflow, a genre-based streaming app, and we expanded territories for Radioplayer Worldwide. We announced that we are powering services for OpenLIVE, Tonlist, Electric Jukebox, Team Rock, CrowdTunes, Rithm, and Astro. We expanded licenses to Africa making our reach a total of 82 territories. Finally, we launched an integration with Google Cast to playback hi-res audio.
7digital started the year by premiering MQA content on onkyomusic at CES. We announced a new contract to power the relaunch of eMusic and won the tender to produce Jazz programmes for BBC Radio 3. We acquired French B2B streaming service Snowite (now 7digital France) and have brought on a number of new key hires. We launched 7digital Creative to look after curation, radio production, editorial and playlisting services for our partners.