San Diego based Slacker Radio has announced it plans to sucker punch the digital music competition with a revamped website, new mobile app and over $5 million in advertising. After six years of being at the rear of the pack, the company is ready to become a leader.
As part of the plan to out-do such competitors as Spotify and Pandora, Slacker’s management has doubled its staff in the past few months and opened a new marketing office headed by former Electronic Arts advertising guru, Craig Rechenmaceher, as new chief marketing officer. Stated Rechenmaceher in a recent interview, “It’s a chance for us to throw our competitors a punch while they’re not looking.”
In a market where most of the company’s competitors rely heavily on revenue gained by sales from ads, Slacker instead has focused on paid subscriptions. After investing heavily in consumer research to find out what consumers would be willing to pay to switch to add free listening and as a result will now offer a monthly ad-free service with unlimited song skipping for $3.99 and an on-demand package for $9.99. Out of over 4 million users, Slacker currently has over 500,000 active subscribers. Company execs are hoping that a deal with Disney to add content from ABC and ESPN along with more than ten times the music than biggest competitor Pandora to up that number. This is the purpose of the increased advertising campaign.
Slacker is also redesigning its website and mobile app to be more user friendly by making it easier to discover music and adding premium features. The company hopes the redesign and increase in advertising will help it overcome the setbacks that include a failed attempt at the hardware business and past unsuccessful attempts to compete in the ad-supported market.
Beating out the competition won’t be easy with Spotify and Pandora boasting a combined 85 million paying members compared to the less than 5 million Slacker currently has. This new push for market domination comes along at a time of rapid expansion in the digital music market with up and comers such as Rdio Inc. and TuneIn along with long timer Rhapsody International. However, Slacker revenue has more than doubled in the past three years and company execs are expecting it to do at least that in 2013 with the new push in both adding more content, news and sports along with increased advertising. Will the effort be enough to knock out the competition?