New 'Uconnect' system brings Pandora, iHeartRadio, Aha, and Slacker to Chryslers

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 12:10pm

There's more from this week's CES in Las Vegas involving in-car Internet radio access. Leading webcaster Pandora announced its app has been integrated into Chrysler's new "Uconnect Access via Mobile" system for in-car listening. The automaker is now Pandora's 20th automotive brand partner in the U.S. Add to that seven aftermarket manufacturers that now offer in-dash Pandora access.

"In addition to over 175 aftermarket devices, there are now more than 85 different car models that include Pandora with more scheduled to become available throughout 2013," Pandora announced. Perhaps even more impressive: the service is now accessible via more than 1,000 non-PC devices (including cars, automotive aftermarket devices, and consumer electronic devices).

Chrysler also added "Uconnect" access to webcaster Slacker Radio, web content aggregator for mobile Aha, and Clear Channel's digital platform iHeartRadio.

(Clear Channel concurrently announced iHeartRadio will also expand their auto integrations to select 2014 GM infotainment systems. The app is already available in Ford, Toyota and Lexus models.) 

Clear Channel also unveiled "iHeartAuto," a new made-for-driving radio app to allow seamless and satandardized access to the iHeartRadio, with support for select aftermarket auto entertainment products. For the launch it partnered with Clarion Smart Access cloud server products, Pioneer’s AppRadio platform of products, and a Kenwood connected receiver. The new app includes a new developer protocol that gives device manufacturers a standardized way to connect to iHeartRadio.

The image is from MotorTrend. You can read their coverage here.

New iHeartRadio functions include finding stations based on mood and activity

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 11:15am

Today Clear Channel announced new functionality for its iHeartRadio Internet radio platform,  including a feature that allows users to choose listening options based on their moods or activities.

This new feature, called "Perfect For," (screenshot at right) bears a striking resemblance to webcaster Songza's "Music Concierge," (screenshot below) which the independent webcast service launched in March (see our coverage here). 

"Perfect For" allows iHeartRadio listeners to "browse through a menu of moods and activities perfect for a particular day and time." Based on their choice, the feature then suggests appropriate options from "hundreds of carefully curated stations."

Clear Channel says, "Early morning users may see station suggestions perfect for waking up – like 'Caffeinated Country: Gourmet Roasted in Nashville' and evening weekday users may see stations to help them wind down – like 'Ambien-T: Ambient Music, Prescription Strength.'"

The new function "will also suggest live radio stations from iHeartRadio’s catalog of over 1,500 stations from across the country to users based off of the mood or activity they select. The feature launches today with thousands of new stations, and many more to be added daily." Clear Channels says "Perfect For" will initially be available for iPhones and PCs, but users can save stations on these devices and access them via any device where iHeartRadio is available. The feature will be available on other mobile and tablet devices soon.

Also new, iHeartRadio has added a new alarm clock feature which will give users the ability to utilize the service as an alarm clock or to set reminders.

McLaughlin returns to CC/iHeartRadio programming team

Friday, December 21, 2012 - 12:50pm

Clear Channel announced today it's named Rich McLaughlin Director of Digital Music Programming for the CCM+E National Programming Platforms team.

McLaughlin was Digital Program Director for Clear Channel Digital from 2009 to August of last year, when he took a digital programming and marketing position with Merlin Media. Beginning January 2, he is to oversee the Digital Music Programming team and create new iHeartRadio brands.

He'll report to Tim Herbster, VP/Special Programming Projects.

IHeartRadio electronic dance stream Evolution lands on Boston FM

Friday, December 21, 2012 - 12:45pm

What began just six weeks ago as iHeartRadio's EDM (electronic dance music) online channel has now taken over a Boston FM frequency Evolution 101.7.

When the EDM stream instantly became iHeartRadio's the most popular digital-only station on the service, Clear Channel execs took notice. At 6pm yesterday the company launched what it calls "the first real EDM station in the country," enlisting legendary British DJ Pete Tong as its voice.

The New York Times wrote today (here), "In what could be interpreted as a bit of symbolism about the tides of the music business, Evolution is taking over the former frequency of WFNX, for decades one of the country’s most influential alternative rock stations. Clear Channel bought the station in May for $14.5 million."

Roles for both traditional radio and new tech in ReadWriteWeb's view of radio in the future

Friday, December 14, 2012 - 12:05pm

The ReadWriteWeb blog counts podcast aggregator Stitcher, plus Pandora, Clear Channel, Spotify, and NPR "five companies that will define the future of radio."

It's through efforts like partnerships with automakers, battling for royalty reform, a third party app platform (Spotify), cross-platform availability, and APIs for other products that ReadWrite says will prove to be part of the formula for these companies' success.

"Under-the radar" upstarts like Shuffler.fm, the Hype Machine, SoundCloud, and The Echo Nest get "honorable mention" nods.

Read the blog here.

Radio will soon be just one of several entertainment and information options to the U.S. driver

Monday, December 10, 2012 - 12:30pm

Thursday was the second half of Arbitron's Client Conference, and two topics that emerged of interest to RAIN readers: in-vehicle Net radio and the importance of mobile to radio's digital strategy (as Tom Taylor Now reported on Friday).

It's clear the day is coming that broadcasters will be competing head-to-head with Internet-delivered entertainment and information in the car. Valerie Shuman (left) is VP/Industry Programs for the Connected Vehicle Trade Association. She told the conference we'll soon see, as Taylor reports, "a virtual dashboard and software-defined radio" (think of a device where its capabilities are easily updated and enhanced, as opposed to being limited by whatever "hardware" it uses).

Jacobs Media consultant Fred Jacobs (also pictured left) spoke too. He recommended radio programers to go and get the same in-car experience your audience will soon have, with a test drive of a car equipped with a connected dashboard system.

"You need to understand what the consumer is going through, to be an effective programmer," he said. That's one point, by the way, of his five-point plan for radio programmers, managers, and owners to make sure they're ready for for the "connected car revolution," which he offers in his blog.

"Radio needs to understand what the automakers – and aftermarket companies – are thinking, and how it will impact the listening experience – or should I say – the audio consumption experience," Jacobs writes, here.

Even out of the car, mobile is becoming the heart of digital radio listening. Clear Channel President of Digital Brian Lakamp (right) revealed to the conference audience that more than half of iHeartRadio usage is now mobile (that number is now 77% for Pandora). His company's research shows users of iHeartRadio's "custom radio" feature (its "personalizable" streams) "spent more time with live radio than they did two years ago... digital is 'in addition to,' not 'instead of' broadcast radio."

Read more of Tom Taylor's coverage on Day Two of the Arbitron Client Conference here.

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