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Mixcloud founder claims service can be a piracy beater

Mixcloud founder claims service can be a piracy beater

Mixcloud, a platform allowing DJs to promote their material online, was launched in beta in March 2009. Since then 100,000 different DJs have uploaded material to the site. Some 90% of its audience is aged 18-34, with 70% of them male.

Due to licensing issues, the site is currently streaming-only but Mixcloud co-founder Nikhil Shah said it was nevertheless having an effect in stopping illegal downloading.

"Not offering downloads has been a challenge for us in terms of persuading the content creators to use a platform like ours," he said.

"What we have to get around for listeners is the idea that they can't own the file but the experience of listening and streaming on Mixcloud is superior.

"So it's very similar to the Spotify model. Spotify's competitor is illegal downloading and they are trying to cannibalise illegal downloading by offering a streaming-only and superior alternative."

Licensed by PPL and PRS, Mixcloud is able to operate in Europe through what Shah called "a reaggregation of rights". Shah explained the company was talkingto US rights holders with a view to launching there soon.

Its business model is based on advertising and affiliate retailer income by directing users to download sites such as Beatport, Juno, Amazon MP3 and iTunes - but this may change soon.

"The paid premium side of things is something we are definitely looking to launch," said Shah. "We are working on different models to find the best way to do this."

Given the specialist genres Mixcloud covers, it will necessarily be a niche proposition but Shah said this actually strengthened its appeal to the ad sector.

"It still makes sense financially if you can be really focused on a particular audience segment and provide a compelling service to that segment and a compelling value to the advertisers," he said.

"The challenge for us is scaling outside of that and maintaining that value for the advertisers - or giving them the ability to effectively target particular demographics within our user base."

Mobile is also key. Mixcloud launched its free iOS app towards the end of May and said an Android app is in the works, possibly arriving in the autumn.

"It was necessary and always an important part of the strategy," Shah said. "It was just a case of getting it done and getting it out there.

We'd always cite Pandora as the main example of a service that has massively increased its user base through mobile. Our business is radio over IP and the future of our business is access on as many devices as possible."

The company, however, is not developing an app for BlackBerry yet, saying there is no demonstrable demand for apps for this platform from its users. "We are not sure about BlackBerry," admitted Shah.

"It was very interesting to see Mobile Roadie pull all its apps from BlackBerry [at the start of June] because of the lack of engagement and usage. For us, we'll do something if there is a need for it and our users are asking for it."

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