Analysis

MixRadio streaming music service launches on Android and iOS


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Streaming music service MixRadio is finally expanding beyond Windows Phone. The service launches today for Android and for iPhone, having originally been launched for Windows Phone by Nokia.

MixRadio was sold to Microsoft as part of Nokia’s devices and services division, before being sold on to Japanese social network Line – a deal that closed in March 2015.

MixRadio isn’t a fully on-demand streaming service like the premium versions of Spotify and Deezer. Instead, it’s more of a personal radio service, with an algorithmic “MyMix” channel that aims to learn from the user’s preferences once they’ve chosen an initial group of favourite genres and artists, plus thousands of playlists created by MixRadio’s in-house editorial team, and the odd celebrity.

MixRadio will still be preloaded on Microsoft’s Lumia smartphones. Across all three platforms, the service will be available in 31 countries, with the new version initially available as a free app supported by audio and display ads.

“It’s massive for us: we are going from somewhere around 5% of the smartphone market to nearly 100% in the 31 countries in which we are available. It is massive for us. While there has been a very loyal user group on the Lumia range, now the rest of the world can really see it as well,” CEO Jyrki Rosenberg told Music Ally.

“The tier we are launching today is the advertising-funded free-to-consumer tier. We do think that subscription tiers will be a good amendment to it later on, but today we’re announcing this.”

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How will MixRadio be marketed? Line is going to play an important role here, according to Rosenberg, although MixRadio isn’t releasing specific details yet. “They currently have over 200 million active users for their messaging app. They’re an amazing company: the fastest-growing mobile app on this planet,” said Rosenberg.

“We’ll look at it market-by-market and see where we are most relevant, and where they are most relevant, and we’ll optimise the go-to-market plan by working hard and closely with them.”

Alongside the Android and iOS launch, MixRadio has announced a co-marketing deal with HTC. The service will be providing “personalised music news” for HTC’s BlinkFeed – a feature on its devices presenting news, social feeds and other content in a scrolling feed.

MixRadio’s focus on playlists – well, “mixes” – certainly fits into the digital music landscape in 2015. Spotify’s playlists have become one of that service’s most talked-about features, while Apple is expected to make curated playlists a central feature of its upcoming relaunch of Beats Music.

“It is nice to see that others are following what we’ve been doing for more than two years. It validates our strategy! We think we are ahead of the curve by launching a way more simple and personalised experience, where you press a single button to get your music mix,” said Rosenberg.

“It is not only the MyMix, which is your own radio station. Even the curated mixes are personalised: when you go to the curated mixes section of the app, the genres we think are most relevant to you are automatically on the top.”

If I create an Ed Sheeran mix, and you do, they won’t be the same. Mine will be inspired by his music tastes and style but also my music tastes, and yours will also draw from your music tastes. It’s an intelligent merger of curation, and manual and automatic personalisation.”

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Like other streaming music services, Rosenberg is playing a straight bat to questions about the likely impact of Apple’s anticipated streaming reboot in June. “I’m welcoming them to the mix. It’s great to have a talented team with a passion for music joining this market,” he said. “We are focused on our own game though”

Rosenberg was also keen to talk about another team – MixRadio’s – from its mix creators to its developers, sales team and business development execs, who’ve moved from one company (Nokia) to another (Microsoft) and then to another (Line) – albeit now as an independent unit.

“I’m probably the luckiest CEO on this planet. I have an amazing team. We talk a lot about the product and our journey as a service, but what people don’t think about is the people behind it, and their dedication and hard work,” he said.

“What brought us to this day was the dedication and enthusiasm of the team that’s behind this product, and for me to be able to represent and lead that team is an amazing experience. They work through the nights and put their passion into this project because they love music.”

Stuart Dredge

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