RAIN 10/6: Steve Jobs helped make Internet radio a mainstream medium

Michael Schmitt
October 6, 2011 - 12:00pm

Steve JobsYesterday Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, passed away. It's difficult to overstate Jobs' impact on the world -- from PCs to film to digital music and beyond. Today RAIN looks back at just some of the ways Jobs impacted Internet radio.

1) iTunes (January 2001)
An "all-in-one digital music program," the now ubiquitous media program included (as it still does) an Internet radio section. It brought hundreds of streams under one roof and exposed them to a mainstream user base. 

2) AirPlay / AirTunes (first released June 2004)
"Listen to music from all over your house from your mobile device," said Steve Jobs when introducing AirPlay -- a wireless music system that lets users stream music from iTunes, iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches to special receivers around the house. AirPlay supports audio from just about any Internet radio app and can stream to any stereo receiver hooked up with an AirPort Express (in addition to Apple TVs and special third-party receivers).

3) iPhone (January 2007) + App Store (July 2008)
"Before the iPhone," writes Billboard, "custom Internet radio, subscription music...among others, had yet to find their legs and their lack of mobility inhibited their ability to grow." But together, the widely-popular iPhone and App Store created a "platform that freed web-based music services from the chains of the computer and let them enter the real world...mobile usage of Pandora, Slacker, Rhapsody and Shazam skyrocketed, bringing users a renewed enthusiasm for music."

The mainstream popularity of the iPhone exposed new consumers to customizable Internet radio. "The iPhone placed web and traditional radio head-to-head, in a face off that continues today. Without it, Pandora and Slacker may not have become household names and many listeners would've never felt the pleasure of personalized music recommendations." (Billboard's full article is here).

4) Apple TV (March 2007)
Though of course geared towards video content, Internet radio was also included in Apple TV, exposing hundreds of streams to yet more consumers.

5) iTunes Genius (September 2008)
Since the debut of the iPod, anyone could create what amounted to their own personal radio station by simply clicking "Shuffle." With iTunes Genius, Steve Jobs made iPods and iTunes a smarter DJ. Genius creates Pandora-like playlists of music similar to a specified song. It also analyzes your library and creates personal genre mixes based on what music you own. Pandora on the iPad

6) iPod Nano, 5th gen (September 2009)
The fifth-generation iPod Nano include, among many new features, an FM radio tuner. The sixth generation generation Nano also includes an FM tuner.

7) iPad (January 2010)
Originally heralded as "the oversized iPhone," Apple's much-hyped tablet device provided yet another platform for Internet radio apps...but with a twist. That looming 9.7 inch screen called for more than just album art and metadata, prompting many webcasters to introduce new visual features to their mobile apps.

How else do you think Steve Jobs affected Internet radio? Did we overlook a service or product? Let us know by commenting on the story below.

Paul Maloney
October 6, 2011 - 12:00pm

Clear Channel announced yesterday its Internet radio service iHeartRadio will be made available to Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers on the Xbox 360 game console this winter. Xbox LIVE is Microsoft's subscription-based online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service for its Xbox 360.XBox Live

The arrangement is part of the companies' "multi-year strategic partnership," which also included the iHeartRadio integration on Windows Phone 7, Xbox HD streaming of the recent iHeartRadio Music Festival, the two-day live music event in Las Vegas that launched the updated iHeartRadio. The new service, by the way, features more than 800 live AM/FM/HD and online-only streams, plus offers users the ability to build "custom stations," a la Pandora. Interestingly, the companies' press release (here) touts iHeartRadio's integration with the Xbox "Kinect," a motion-sensing/voice-recognition system, giving users "the ability to control digital radio in their living room using their voice and body" (to which it may be as much fun to watch as it is to listen).

Clear Channel also announced its iHeartRadio app would be available in the Yahoo! Connected TV Store/Gallery, for Yahoo! Connected VIZIO Internet App enabled TVs (press release here).

Michael Schmitt
October 6, 2011 - 12:00pm

DAR.fmUnivision has sent a cease and desist letter to Michael Robertson's DAR.fm -- a website that lets users record radio programs, much like a TiVo.

“We don’t believe people recording broadcasts is a copyright infringement," Roberston responded. "It is not rebroadcasting just like your VCR is not rebroadcasting. It is personal recording.”

Univision's lawyers disagree, pointing out that DAR.fm lets users download shows to their mobile devices (RAIN coverage here). "[DAR.fm] is essentially opening the door for users to engage in copyright infringement, since unlimited copies can be made from downloaded MP3 files and then distributed to others."

Univision is reportedly demanding that its radio stations be removed from DAR.fm. TechCrunch has more coverage here.

Paul Maloney
October 6, 2011 - 12:00pm

RdioBeginning today, new Rdio users can get limited, commercial-free on-demand music streams, Rdio announced on its blog (here). Just how much music will depend "on a number of factors, including monthly use," Rdio CEO Drew Larner told Business Week (here). A meter on the user's profile page shows how much free music is available each month. The idea, of course, is to convert users into subscribers of its unlimited desktop and mobile-music plans, priced at $5-$10/month.

Rdio was founded last year by Skype co-founder Janus Friis, and offers access to a library of 12 million songs.