2/28/13: Tech journalist thinks in-car 4G means "radio's got a pretty big problem"

Paul Maloney
February 28, 2013 - 11:45am

This week we reported GM will equip several 2014 automobiles with 4G mobile connectivity, enabling data speeds of up to ten times that of 3G connections (see RAIN here). American Public Media's "Marketplace Tech" covered it too, and focused on the implications for traditional AM/FM radio. Its headline: "GM's Internet cars: The end of FM radio?"

Show host David Brancaccio spoke with CNet executive editor Molly Wood, wondering if the new tech would be a "big opportunity, or a big pain-in-the-neck, for regular FM and AM radio stations that also cherish the in-car audience."

"Once this becomes readily available and the price for it is built into the price of the car," Wood said, "I think radio's got a pretty big problem."

Her prediction did come with some caveats. The first is cost. 4G is currently pretty pricey. Next, 4G coverage can still be spotty.

As Brancaccio suggested, however, there's also opportunity here for terrestrial radio. "Some existing radio stations are very strong brands, and if they get ahead of this... it might mean new listeners, not just in their traditional listening area, but across the country," he said.

Wood concurred: "And that is definitely the opportunity. If the content is there, and people want it, I think that's absolutely a huge opportunity. And I do think that there will always be a place for local."

Listen to the full inteview from APM's Marketplace Tech here.

Paul Maloney
February 28, 2013 - 11:45am

Pandora announced via their blog yesterday they are limiting free/ad-supported mobile listening to 40 hours a month. Found Tim Westergren says it's about royalties.

"Pandora's per-track royalty rates have increased more than 25% over the last 3 years, including 9% in 2013 alone and are scheduled to increase an additional 16% over the next two years," he wrote. "After a close look at our overall listening, a 40-hour-per-month mobile listening limit allows us to manage these escalating costs with minimal listener disruption."

Pandora is the most visible industry player backing the Internet Radio Fairness Act, which they hope will decrease sound recording performance royalties with a change in the standard that's used to determine those rates. See more in RAIN here.

While the webcaster is monetizing mobile audience better than most, its ad revenues are just $26.96 per thousand listener hours on mobile, compared to $56.40 across all platforms.

According to Pandora, only 4% of listeners will be affected, as the average listener streams just 20 hours a month across all platforms. The limit is only on mobile listening, and does not affect paying "Pandora One" subscribers. Free mobile listeners are also given the option of paying 99 cents for unlimited listening for the rest of the month after they hit the limit.

This is not Pandora's time capping free listening. Prior to September 2011, free stream mobile and web listeners were limited to 40 hours per month.

Read the Pandora blog entry here.

Paul Maloney
February 28, 2013 - 11:45am

"Social radio" tech provider Jelli has a new deal putting Jelli on 104 Entercom Communications radio stations in 23 markets.

When stations incorporate the Jelli technology, listeners influence what's played by voting for music -- as a sort of "game" -- via the web or mobile apps. Jelli says its "advertising platform enables real-time ad serving and listener engagement across social, mobile and broadcast platforms, creating unique insights for advertisers." Last fall (see RAIN here) Jelli began allowing stations to use only its ad-serving feature.

Jelli is on more than 175 radio stations in more than 50 markets nationwide.

Paul Maloney
February 28, 2013 - 11:45am

Online radio aggregator/tuner TuneIn has rolled out a new upgrade to show what's currently on across a listener's favorite genres.

The feature is called TuneIn Live, and works on TuneIn's web site and iPad app (it's reportedly still being tested for Android tablets).

TuneIn Live rotates tile images to show "relevant music, sports, and news happening live, based on individuals’ listening habits and interests," as described by the company. When new relevant content airs, the tiles shift to alert the listener and provide an immediate means to access.

Earlier this month (our coverage here) TuneIn redesigned its web interface. The site now features "trending" (most popular content) list, and a new integration with Google+.