Lycos widens its web music offerings today when it goes live with the Lycos Radio Network. The network will have five channels: alternative, country, hip-hop, hot tracks and smooth jazz.
Brian Kalinowski, product manager of Lycos' multimedia products group, said it has more than 1,800 songs programmed, and up to 50 channels could be running in six months, including news and entertainment offerings.
"We've designed this for people at work with high-speed connections," Mr. Kalinowski said, adding that while other users can access the service, the quality might not be as good.
The service requires users to download RealNetworks' RealAudio 5.0 for audio only, or RealPlayer G2 Player to be able to view the video that accompanies the streaming songs. Westwind Media.com is programming, compressing and streaming all the music and talk content for Lycos.
Unlike some other online music services, Lycos Radio will run videos along with the tracks, which will range from behind-the-scenes footage of musicians to montages of snowboarders. SonicNet Flash Radio runs Flash-animated montages, and there are other sites in which users can view band music videos. In the past, many audio services have encouraged users to download a player, which streams music independent of a Web browser.
`KEEP THE WINDOW OPEN'
"The goal was to enhance the audio experience on the Internet by adding video," said Mr. Kalinowski, "and for that model to work, you have to keep the window open."
Lycos wants to keep that window open for another reason: advertising.
While it hasn't begun selling the service yet, it's in talks with several potential advertisers, many from the entertainment industry. In addition to banner ads, it's selling audio ads, integrated banner and audio spots, and ads that combine audio and video. Integrated ads on Lycos Radio will range from $75 to $100 per thousand impression.
"We're trying to expand the advertising paradigm," Mr. Kalinowski said.
Of the portals, Lycos has taken the lead in the music space, breaking ground earlier this year when it launched its MP3 Search service, which catalogs MP3 music and audio files available on the Net. Mr. Kalinowski said watching audiences grow on music services such as Spinner.com, which claims 1 million unique users a month, was another impetus.
"We could do this and make the experience better with video and a broader audience reach," he said.
Jae Kim, analyst at Paul Kagan & Associates, said Lycos' sticky multimedia content is merely preparing for the days when broadband connections are widespread.
TIME SPENT A BETTER MEASURE
The multimedia forays are "an attempt to gain market share for the days when full broadband connectivity is ubiquitous," Mr. Kim said. In recent years, "page views have been the main metric." In the future "it's going to be about time spent on sites and time spent interacting with content. And being able to capture someone's attention looking at text, while engaged in audio and video, will be of huge value to Internet programmers."
Mr. Kim estimates 14 million people have access to streaming media through work, less than half of the U.S. work force--a number he expects to rise dramatically in the next few years.
Copyright April 1999, Crain Communications Inc.