Univision is set to announce to SXSW today that it has partnered with Napster to bring more music streaming choices to its revamped Uforia app. In addition to live broadcasts from Univision’s 58 local radio stations, the app now offers users hundreds of playlists based on Napster’s 40 million song catalog.
“Univision was a pioneer of Latin music,” said Univision Radio president Jesus Lara in an interview with Variety this week. However, Lara admitted that Univision does not have a good track record of coordinating its efforts on television, local radio and online. That’s where Uforia comes in, which the company recently refreshed as a brand for all of its musical endeavors going forward.
Part of that effort is the new Uforia app, which Lara described as being suitable for Univision’s audience. “The Hispanic market is complex,” he said, with Cuban Americans preferring different tunes than fans of Mexican or Guatemalan music.
Napster CEO Bill Patrizio argued that the Spotify and Apple Music of this world often miss those nuances and in turn ignore Univision audiences. “They are poorly served by mainstream music services today,” he said.
Uforia’s promise to Hispanic music fans is to go deep. “We contextualize programming,” said Lara, citing the recent International Women’s Day as an example. For that day, Uforia curators created a number of playlists, including one from female-only Mariachi bands and one from female Reggaeton artists.
And there is another difference between Uforia and Spotify, or Apple Music for that matter. Univision’s music app is free to everyone with no upselling at a paid plan. “My audience is used to advertising a free service and doesn’t care,” Lara said, adding that her company currently has no plans for a paid tier.
“Not all roads lead to $ 9.99 per month,” Patrizio agreed. He compared today’s streaming market to a pre-Internet world, when record companies focused on CDs and tried to sell the same product for the same price to everyone. “It’s inevitable that we will see more segmentation,” he said.
Napster was a full-fledged music streaming pioneer, launching the first unlimited subscription service under its Rhapsody brand in 2001. In the face of fierce competition from Spotify and Apple, the company shifted its focus further. on B2B, powering the music applications of iHeartRadio and others. But Patrizio has said Napster will continue to capitalize on his brand going forward. “We will not become an anonymous, faceless white label supplier that no one has ever heard of,” he said.
As for Uforia, the revamped app with a Napster-powered music streaming experience is now available for iOS and Android. The app will receive podcasts soon, and Lara and Patrizio have hinted at plans to integrate Univision’s radio streams more directly into Napster’s music catalog. said Lara: “It really is the start of a journey.