Slacker Radio redesigns mobile apps to challenge Pandora, Spotify
Slacker Radio is rolling out overhauled versions of its streaming music application alongside a redesigned website and logo as it looks to more effectively challenge rivals like Pandora and Spotify.
Slacker revamped its mobile apps.
Slacker Radio promises users access to more than 13 million songs, 200 expert-programmed stations, news and talk from partners like ABC and ESPN, and a host of personalization options. The revamped Slacker service--available for mobile operating systems including Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone--adds a new tile-based visual interface as well as the new Music Guide recommendation engine and overall stability enhancements.
In addition to free, ad-supported listening, Slacker offers a monthly $3.99 ad-free service that includes unlimited song-skipping, as well as a $9.99 package that makes any song or album in its library available on demand. Slacker has not overhauled its pricing tiers, but CEO Jim Cady told Bloomberg the company invested heavily in consumer research to determine what factors would influence subscribers to jump ship from rival streaming services and how much they would be willing to pay.
Cady added that more than 500,000 of Slacker's 4 million active users are paying subscribers. "It's really an ad business that is helping a subscription business but not dominating the subscription business," he said.
Slacker lags far behind the competition, however. Spotify now boasts 20 million users and 5 million paying customers, and Pandora touts more than 65 million unique monthly listeners. In an effort to narrow the gap, Slacker will pour $5.5 million into an advertising campaign trumpeting its service.
IHS iSuppli Analyst Marija Jaroslavskaja estimates revenues from digital music subscription services will more than triple by 2016 to $986.9 million from $319.2 million last year. "It's a matter of getting users," Jaroslavskaja said, adding that Slacker's "business model distinguishes them from the rest of the players in the U.S. market, but in terms of the consumer proposition, that's more difficult."