Business News Digital

Slacker Radio downsizes workforce

By | Published on Tuesday 18 April 2017

Slacker Radio

US-based personalised radio firm Slacker last week laid off about a quarter of its workforce as part of a “focus on efficiency” and to “accelerate the path towards profitability”. Ah, ‘profitability’ in the streaming music business. What a novel idea.

“Slacker Radio is laying off approximately 25% of the team as part of our ongoing effort to focus on efficiency and accelerate the path towards profitability”, confirmed the digital firm’s CEO Duncan Orrell-Jones, following speculation that as many as half of the company’s staffers could be for the chop.

The boss man added: “Our strategy has always been to innovate in the radio and music space, and we’ve been working hard to develop new experiences that we believe will fulfil the promise of radio reimagined. The Slacker Radio app will not be affected by these changes, nor will several new product releases that are scheduled for later this year”.

Slacker originally went live ten years ago, and is primarily a competitor to Pandora and iHeartRadio, both of which command much larger user-bases. Personalised radio – as opposed to fully on-demand streaming – is much bigger in the US than Europe, partly because it is possible to operate such a service using a compulsory licence Stateside, so you don’t necessarily need a deal from the labels. Though Slacker did actually go the direct deal route, as have Pandora and iHeart more recently.

The latter two entered into direct licensing deals with the labels across the board in order to launch a premium level that competes directly with Spotify and Apple Music, which isn’t possible under the compulsory licence. They did so because they felt that they needed to offer more than just personalised radio in order to become profitable, with Pandora also seeking to utilise its data and audience to generate extra revenue via ticket sales.

Which confirms that Slacker too is in a challenging market. For a time it had a sideline in powering Samsung’s streaming service, though it really needs to find away to make its core business profitable. Hence all that talk of a “focus on efficiency” and the job losses.