Interview: Thierry Ascarez, VP Business Development at Radionomy
First of all, thank you for taking time out of a busy schedule for this interview Thierry! How did you first get involved with Radionomy and how has it changed since you have become VP?
Radionomy was founded in 2008 in Europe and I joined the company in 2010 as Marketing Manager. After working on the French and Spanish market, we quickly realized that we had great potential in the US to offer our products and services and also to monetize our growing US audience. We made several trips to New York and to Silicon Valley before opening our US office in San Francisco in September 2012. I relocated from Europe to SF and we now have a team of five people here as well as an office in NY that we share with our sister company Target Spot. Expansion has been very fast for the last two years. We keep growing and innovating and we are very passionate about what we do.
For those who don’t know what Radionomy does, could you explain it? How could Radionomy benefit a station?
We currently have 2 radio products that benefit every kind of broadcaster. Our first product is what we call RMO (Radio Manager Online) Once you sign up for a free account at radionomy.com (click Start a Station)you can log on to the creative web-based platform. It is a complete 24/7 and live programming platform for anyone wanting to start a station. Unlike other services, we do not charge for streaming or music licensing. They can personalize their streams and we help distribute their station via sharing tools like our embedded player and our distribution network that reaches millions of potential listeners.
In addition, we help the broadcaster bring in revenue through an audio ad solution with our sister-company TargetSpot. In the past, if someone outside of a major media company wanted to start a station (and they got popular), trying to pay the fees, get the licensing, and find advertising was daunting if not totally impossible. Radionomy solves all that.
We believe in the extraordinary “long-tail” of radio and we want to give every talented person an opportunity to be successful in internet radio. We are also excited about the hand-crafted radio movement that is bringing new personalities, DJs, and talk into internet radio. In many ways we are going back to the golden age of radio when stations had personality and passionate followers/listeners.
Our other product launched in September called Radionomy For Broadcasters (http://radionomyforbroadcasters.com) and this is a complete solution for already established internet and terrestrial stations. We cover their streaming costs and have an ad-revenue sharing plan that helps stations leverage their online audience into revenue. They can keep their existing automation and we also provide them with unlimited free worldwide streaming, revenue based on targeted server-side advertising, up to the minute listener analytics, full server redundancy, and more. Many of the internet’s biggest stations are already using this new platform for managing their streams.
Recently Radionomy acquired (and saved) Winamp and SHOUTcast from AOL’s drop. This makes Radionomy one of the top internet radio companies in the world. What was Radionomy’s motivation to purchase?
We have been fans of Winamp and SHOUTcast for many years and know there is so much value and tradition in those products and the people who have been using them. We also feel there are great opportunities to build on the Winamp player’s strengths. We think the best is yet to come.
In working on the SHOUTcast product, the main goal is improving the experience for producers. Our aim is to make all the tools that are available in Radionomy available to SHOUTcast. We will improve the experience of producing a SHOUT cast station, especially in reaching the audience, and monetizing the station. The Radionomy tools will help SHOUTcast producers, as will our partnership with our sister-company TargetSpot, which will help some of these popular stations to begin monetizing their efforts. Integrating these production tools across the two platforms will take some development time but we are already focused on these efforts.Winamp has been around for over ten years now and has been a hallmark in terms of media players. What are your future plans for the software?
The idea is to build a universal player for online media, everywhere audio is consumed. All the stations will be gathered into the Winamp player, which makes it easy for the listener. Because the deal just happened and we have many options to consider we will be taking some time to work on the new version.
Are there any plans to license these SHOUTcast stations by featuring ads?
Yes, as internet radio continues to mature, we know the solution is either subscription or ad-supported. For the time being we are betting on the latter as the strongest business model for broadcasters that want to develop their stations into a more profitable endeavor.
Will the aquisition of Winamp and SHOUTcast change Radionomy in any way?
It definitely brought our company to the attention of many in the US who may have not been familiar with our brand. I think these acquisitions helped us to gain the credibility and leadership in the US that we already have in Europe. We also became the host of half of all internet radio stations online. That was cool.
Where do you see Radionomy in the future in terms of Internet Radio?
We see ourselves as the go-to solution for existing and new broadcasters alike. We are making broadcasting online easier, more accessible and less expensive so the most creative programmers can rise to the top and be heard. This benefits everyone - broadcasters and listeners.
There is a growing number of people around the world who are turning to the net to hear great audio in the car, walking around, as well as their homes and offices. Radionomy is excited to be introducing a great variety and personality to the world’s listening options. We believe we have the most relevant broadcasting solution out there. This is an incredibly interesting and dynamic industry and Radionomy is leading the way.
How do you see music streaming services like Pandora and Spotify in relation to internet radio? Are listeners still interested in online radio?
We believe that we are complimentary to the on-demand music streaming services. There are times when users want to “lean-in” and manage their experience (by creating special playlists and perhaps downloading podcasts); but we think the majority of listeners want a “lean-back” experience. Of course the content has to be good, easy to navigate, and unique. So yes listeners are still very interested in online radio, as our growing audience shows.
There is always a human behind a Radionomy station, someone that has programmed content for a specific audience, you cannot replace a person with an algorithm. That’s why it’s very important for us to empower producers/broadcasters with the best online programming and personalization tools.
You are now seeing both Pandora and Spotify attempt to inject more personality into their service with curated streams and celebrity playlists. We think this demonstrates that we already know; the audience is looking for something more than just a rotation of music.
Any tips for small station owners out there before we sign off?
Work on unique programming and don’t be afraid to grow and prosper. We are still at the beginning of the future of radio. We like to say that with our solution, radio has been freed. Freed for station producers to grow and to prosper at no cost. We’d like to see more podcasters realize that creating a stream with their content could expose them to a much larger audience and be a way to profit from their efforts. We also want to say to anyone who is passionate about radio or any content that could translate to this medium.- check us out, and be creative.
The only thing you have to lose is the chance to be heard.
Thanks again for chatting to us. We look forward to the future of Radionomy, Winamp and SHOUTcast!