Google All Access

Internet radio distribution news: Google Music and iTunes Radio

Monday, October 7, 2013 - 10:15am

Crossing ecosystem boundaries can be as difficult as traveling across national borders.

Google Music (both the download store and the All Access streaming-music app) is soon venturing into hostile fanboy territory by distributing its service to Apple mobile users. Engadget reports that Google will produce an iOS app later this month. It will be interesting to track uptake. One clear loyalty point in Apple’s ecosystem is the iTunes network of buying, streaming, and listening. But ubiquity is a good strategy as users cross boundaries more than media brands want them to. People who like Android phones, for example, but prefer Apple’s iPad for a tablet experience, want to carry their music with them across devices.

Will Apple reciprocate with an app in the Android storeSorry, that wasn’t a serious question.

But Apple is venturing geographically, if you believe sightings of a job listing for an iTunes Radio music programmer in Canada. The listing (which has disappeared after first sighting) calls for a cross-genre music expert with knowledge of the local music scene. No matter when it happens, Apple’s global expansion of iTunes Radio is only a matter of time.

QUICK HITS: Google expansion; iHeart deal

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 12:45pm

Google All Access expands to seven more countries: A search for this topic yields over 7,000 versions of a simple announcement: Google’s streaming and music-locker service is newly available in the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Russia, and Switzerland -- in addition to the 12 other countries already enjoying the service. Some portions of the commentariat are grumbling that there is still no Google Internet radio in Canada.

iHeartRadio gets Turner content: Clear Channel-owned iHeart has inked a content deal with Turner Broadcasting which will enhance its Talk offerings. Users can expect to see clips from CONAN (Conan O’Brien’s TBS variety show), as well as select sports and news programming. The Talk portion of iHeart’s app currently includes a strong ABC presence, and the Turner deal could provide some balance. President of Clear Channel Digital Brian LaKamp called the deal “a significant milestone for iHeartRadio Talk.”

Spotify adds four countries to its international portfolio

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 12:10pm

As jubilantly announced on its public blog (“Hello Argentina, Taiwan, Greece and Turkey -- Spotify here!”), the interactive streamer has expanded its reach. With the addition of those four, Spotify now distributes its desktop and mobile app experiences in 32 countries. The deal is standard Spotify: free, ad-supported desktop listening, a subscription tier to eliminate the ads, and a higher sub plan for mobile streaming and downloading.

Here are the international ranges of other music listening platforms:

  • iTunes Radio: U.S. only Xbox Music: 22 countries (free streaming available in 15)
  • Google All Access: 11 countries (U.S., Australia, added nine European countries in August)
  • TuneIn Radio: 80 countries and territories (see here)
  • iHeartRadio: U.S. only
  • Pandora: three countries (U.S., New Zealand, Australia)
  • Rdio: 31 countries
  • Rhapsody: 17 countries (some non-U.S. apps are branded as Rhapsody-owned Napster)
  • Slacker: U.S. and Canada
  • Songza: U.S. and Canada

As a counterpoint to the relentless regional agnosticism of internet radio (notwithstanding streaming broadcasts featured on TuneIn and iHeart), you might want to read remarks delivered by FTC Commissioner Ajit Pai (PDF) at last week's Radio Show luncheon. In his speech, Commissioner Pai held forth on the value of localism, before discussing revitalization of the AM band. 

iHeart and Google make pre-iTunes Radio updates

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 11:10am

Whether by coincidence, or as deliberate attempts to steal a bit of the spotlight on “Apple event day” (arguably a national holiday for the technorati), iHeartRadio and Google introduced updates to their Internet radio products.

iHeartRadio, Clear Channel's broad aggregation platform that offers live terrestrial streams, house-curated stations such as the popular All Beatles & Stones Radio, and user-generated artist stations, put a spotlight on talk radio with additional enhancements for the iHeartRadio Talk function on iOS and Android mobile apps (see more on iHeartRadio's Talk feature in RAIN coverage here). The new directory is live on the web interface and the updated iOS app which dropped into Apple’s store yesterday (Android update coming Thursday).

The new Talk section breaks out a list of talk-radio genres stocked with a range of listening options. Major-network participation from ABC News is apparent in several categories. Welcome exposure is given to specialty programs that many users might not be aware of, or would have difficulty tracking down, such as Paul Shaffer’s Day in Rock. Podcasts are sprinkled about. The iOS app experience is impaired by lack of a persistent search box (which usefully exists on the web site), and is aggravated by pre-roll video ads, which are persistent.

Meanwhile, the unfortunately-named Google Play Music All Access updated its Android app with genre stations -- a default feature of most interactive streamers. Adding them now underlines Google’s failure to launch with a genre directory when the service started in May, and emphasizes a certain slapdashery in the Internet radio space (we’re looking at you, too, Xbox Music).

All signs point to a more deliberate and imperialistic rollout of iTunes Radio, possibly as early as this afternoon. The Apple event (1pmEDT / 10amPDT) will certainly deliver information about it and its release date.

These update maneuvers from iHeart and Google do not diminish Apple’s publicity clout, but they perhaps do insert themselves into the internet radio mindspace which is on full alert this week, and re-engage the interest of users at a dangerous time when everyone will want to get a taste of Apple’s new music experience.

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