One year ago we reported that music-based social networking site Imeem was experiencing strong growth and making key deals with record labels. Our conclusion at the time was that "Imeem's growth rate and buzz is reminiscent of that of YouTube just before it got huge."
Big words indeed. To see if that You Tube comparison was justified, let's check back in with Imeem one year later and assess how they're doing now.
Imeem is a social networking site that offers streaming music. At the time of our report last August, Imeem was the third-largest social network in the United States after MySpace and Facebook, and the No. 1 streaming music site in the US. Key competitors for Imeem were (and still are) MySpace Music, last.fm and Pandora.
The tale of the tape is usually a good indication of growth; and according to Compete Imeem has actually declined by 10.5% in unique visitors this past year. The chart below doesn't include Facebook and MySpace, because they are much larger than Imeem. While Imeem is still larger than last.fm and Pandora, the chart below shows a definite dip - whereas last.fm and Pandora grew.
If we add in MySpace and Facebook, you can see the gulf between Imeem and the other two large social network players. We also see the massive growth of Facebook over the past year; it passed MySpace in Dec '08 - Jan '09 according to this data.
Statistics don't tell the whole story of course, however we've also seen other evidence of problems at Imeem. The company appears to be under pressure financially - in October '08, Imeem laid off 25% of its staff. The product is also under strain. In late June this year we reported that Imeem will remove photos and videos from its features, in order to simplify the service and focus on the service's core social music features. That move did not go down well with Imeem users.
We don't want to be too negative. There's much still to like about Imeem - its design has improved and the list of record labels is impressive. But it's obvious that the hype that we saw one year ago (including our own comparison to YouTube!) just hasn't panned out.
With Miley Cyrus now draped all over the Imeem homepage and Jonas Brothers in the default playlist, it seems that the site is now aiming to attract the teeny bopper audience that perhaps MySpace and other online music sites don't serve too well. That's great, but it's far from the diverse mainstream audience that Facebook and MySpace attract.
Unfortunately, Imeem is heading the wrong way in terms of its growth. And there are newer, arguably better music streaming services rising up - Spotify has gotten rave reviews so far from international markets and it's about to launch in the U.S.
Can Imeem turn it around? Let us know your thoughts on Imeem in the comments.