Music in apps: A chat with the CEO of feed.fm
|Richard Harris in iOS Thursday, March 1, 2018|
How getting music into your app legally just got easier with the feed.fm API and SDK.
That's why we talked to Jeff Yasuda, CEO and Founder of feed.fm, to learn about how feed.fm can help developers get the music they need to make the experience perfect.
ADM: What types of apps can really benefit from music and in what ways and with what outcomes?
Yasuda: We’ve got a lot of data that shows definitive improvement in metrics like session times, repeat visits and long-term retention when users listen to music. Those metrics are important to most app developers, but where we’ve seen the most overall impact is with apps that are monetizing content like fitness, sports, and gaming.
ADM: Fitness and gaming apps often include music without getting legal clearance. Is it really an issue for a small or growing app?
Yasuda: Absolutely. Putting aside the moral arguments about paying artists for their work, not getting legal clearance from the start guarantees that, when your app becomes successful, the first thing you'll be spending your money and time on will be lawyers to get you out of your poor legal situation. Squaring things away from the start means you can grow your app or game without having to worry about being pulled away to fight legal fires just when things get interesting.
The benefits of using a service like Feed.fm is similar to that of using a cloud database provider. You can provision and manage a database yourself but, when something goes wrong, you've got to drop everything to get that damn database up again. A cloud provider, on the other hand, will have backups and failovers running from the get-go, so you can focus on what your users want.
ADM: What kind of impact do you see on customer engagement when music is added to an app?
Yasuda: We see the positive impact across all LTV metrics, from in-session engagement to long term retention. Our most recent LTV impact analysis found 4.5X more time spent in app for music listeners vs. non music listeners. And, more importantly, when you look at Long term retention, we see a 2.8x improvement in likelihood returning in a quarter.
ADM: What does it cost to go directly to labels and license songs?
Yasuda: Honestly, it’s cost prohibitive to do direct deals for most businesses. Licensing a track for usage can cost anywhere from $5k for an indie label recording up to $500k for a Beatles song - and that's just a single track! We work with a lot of businesses that pursued that route and just couldn’t make the numbers work.
ADM: What type of music do consumers like the best or engage with the most?
Yasuda: There is no one genre or artist that consumers listen to most (except for Drake - everybody loves Drake!). Especially for our customers that serve a younger demo, their audience is listening to 7 different genres on a weekly basis. Since music is now consumed in playlists and mood-based collections, genre matters less and less.
ADM: Tell us about the feed.fm API and SDK and how developers can utilize them.
Yasuda: We have lots of options to get streaming music onto your platform at all levels of effort and customization. We have fully baked native music players available on GitHub for iOS (https://github.com/feedfm/iOS-RadioPlayer-2) and Android (https://github.com/feedfm/AndroidSDK2-Radioplayer) that you can easily copy and paste into your app if you want to offer your users a simple way to select a music station and control playback.
If you want music seamlessly integrated into your existing UI, we have lower level SDKs for iOS, Android, and the Web. These SDKs take care of native playback controls, lock screen integration, and interruption handling. The (Android http://demo.feed.fm/sdk/docs/android/latest/ and iOS http://demo.feed.fm/sdk/docs/ios/latest/html/Classes/FMAudioPlayer.html) SDKs let you register listeners or delegates to receive song and player events, and they expose simple methods for selecting musical stations and controlling playback.
Both the pre-built players and the SDKs perform song cross-fading and automatic volume normalization. Arbitrary metadata can be attached to stations (such as album art or descriptive text), and music curation is all configured server side so it can stay fresh without having to rebuild your application.
If you are in a unique environment, or don't want to depend on 3rd party code, we have a very simple REST API you can work with to retrieve songs and report song playback. Our customers have successfully created music stations within Unity, the Amazon Echo and Roku via this API.
ADM: How do you see the music industry evolving in the next year?
Yasuda: We’re really excited about voice-controlled smart speakers and all the new exposure for brands and artists that they open up. Spotify is no longer the only service that is easily accessible from your home theater system. Finding cool ways to integrate a branded radio station into a user experience prompted by an easy voice command is a no brainer. We’re also working with a handful of VR companies to figure out how to get real music into their experiences in a meaningful way. As VR bubbles in the collective consciousness and gets ready to break into the mainstream, we think there is a huge opportunity to power the music side of the experience.
About Jeff Yasuda
Jeff is a long-time entrepreneur that continues to find new ways to combine his passion for building businesses with his love of music. In July 2008, Yasuda launched Blip.fm. Blip.fm was the leading real-time social media DJ service available for music enthusiasts. Blip.fm grew to over 1 million registered DJs who reached over 30 million people on Twitter alone.
Jeff is also the host and producer of the Feed Sessions, a live show filmed from his San Francisco studio and streamed over the web reaching audiences of 20,000 to 100,000 people each show. The Sessions features live performances and interviews with Grammy-nominated and accomplished artists such as Plain White T’s, Gomez, ALO, Big Light, Temper Trap, the Mother Hips, and One eskimO.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, Jeff was the Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer of Silicon Valley VC firm Redwood Ventures, where he held board directorships and managed investments in their technology portfolio. Prior to joining Redwood, he worked in Investment Banking at Lehman Brothers, concentrating on technology financing within Equity Capital Markets.
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