Satellite radio giant SiriusXM plans an aggressive push for a larger share of the music streaming space, launching a new version of its platform on mobile devices and in cars; Reduction in subscription price; and launching a range of new channels and shows to target greater market share among younger consumers.
Focusing on the “next generation” of subscribers is a key focus of SiriusXM’s strategy, says Jennifer Witz, the company’s CEO The Hollywood Reporter in an interview. A big part of this is shifting the company’s streaming strategy from a supplement to the in-car offering to something that is compelling in its own right.
“We have a lot of our consumers, our subscribers, who are streaming outside of the car today, and the app was originally designed to essentially complement what you have in the car,” Witz says. “This is really our first chance to create something that stands on its own and can really be a complementary audio service to any other music service because of the breadth of content we have.”
The company unveiled its new platform and a range of new offerings at an event in New York City on Wednesday. Witz stated, “Fundamental shifts in the marketplace have created a paradox of choice and led to growing consumer demand for human-curated audio.”
Among the biggest changes is a new price: $9.99 per month for the all-access streaming service, a price that’s a dollar cheaper than before, and also streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music undercuts, which adopted the price of $10.99. As Witz noted, this could also make SiriusXM a good complement to those services.
The new platform is leaner and faster, with a greater focus on combining algorithmically driven suggestions with human-curated channels and playlists. The new streaming app will launch on December 14th, with the in-car experience available starting next year.
And the company announced a series of new deals that went well beyond James Corden’s talk show announced earlier this week.
In terms of content, SiriusXM announced a new Kelly Clarkson channel (Clarkson also appeared at the event and expressed excitement about bringing the channel “live” from his home at random locations). Other new channels in the works include a John Mayer-curated offering, a true crime channel led by audiochuck’s Ashley Flowers, year-round channels from Shaggy and Smokey Robinson, and a limited-time channel from Dolly Parton.
Clarkson, Flowers and Shaggy all performed live, as did comedians Kevin Hart and Conan O’Brien and Bravo’s Andy Cohen, among others, to show the breadth and depth of the company’s programming.
Howard Stern, probably the presenter most closely associated with the brand, also made a rare live appearance.
“I’ll be honest with you, I said no, I didn’t want to be here. And Jennifer and Scott and everyone involved with the company said, “You’ll be here if you want to stay here,” Stern joked to the audience before getting a little more serious. “I’m the biggest fan of satellite radio, even if one day I hear the air, which is almost impossible, but let’s say I’m having a bad day and it’s not funny: I know that every listener there can tune in and hear Mad Dog, they can listen to Kevin Hart, they can listen to Conan, there’s enough content there – good content – that our subscribers feel fulfilled. For me, SiriusXM was an oasis in the desert of censorship, the technology I dreamed of.”
“What you saw today is a small portion of it, but it’s really a diverse collection of genres, brands, personalities from all walks of life and all different types,” said Scott Greenstein, SiriusXM’s chief content officer, in an interview. “And we do this because we want people to have what they want, we want people to have what they think they want, and we want people to have what they don’t yet know , but maybe want to.”
In distribution, SiriusXM struck a deal with Hilton to make its content available in the chain’s hotel rooms and with Amazon’s Audible to bring its audio content to SiriusXM and some SiriusXM content to Audible subscribers.
And in the updated app, the focus will once again be on content discovery, says Witz.
“Even for me, the discovery is a real challenge,” says the CEO. “For example, I have my playlists on Pandora, but when I want to find something new, I go to my favorite channels on SiriusXM because either the hosts there help curate the different music they play, or they are. We also conduct interviews with artists and perform live performances with the artists. It’s also a packaging of all our content, all from people.”
Greenstein argues that it is their secret recipe.
“If you show interest in certain things, be it music or something else, we will do our best from both a human and algorithmic perspective to be able to figure out what you are.” “Audio DNA is and what my audio DNA is, and we consistently refine it to bring you this unique mix,” says Greenstein. “Because instead of just listening to music in a vacuum, people just talk, just listen to comedy, at any given time on any given day. They might like their sports, their news, their music, maybe they like certain music.”