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RAIN 1/20: Radio hashes out the question: Is Pandora a real threat?

Posted on: 01/20/2011

WHEN STREAMING SERVICES REACH CARS, WHAT HAPPENS TO FM MUSIC STATIONS?

In covering new in-car listening technologies, a FoxNews.com article suggested that free streaming options in the car could perhaps be the death knell of local broadcast radio.

Not surprisingly, radio broadcasters say “no way.” Clear Channel Chairman of Media and Entertainment Platforms Robert Pittman (below left) told Bloomberg TV, “Of all radio listening, the Internet and digital is only about 4%… it appears that right now it’s additive. That people aren’t leaving terrestrial to go to this, rather, they are able to find their radio stations in more places. And guess what? They listen to the radio more.”

Larry Johnson, in Paragon Media Strategies’ blog, suggests that while radio needs to keep an eye on services like Pandora and also grow technologically, it’s important to not overreact. “It’s essential for terrestrial stations to be on the menu as delivery of Internet audio becomes more prominent in the way we listen to radio and audio services. Let’s hope… radio will respond with more aggressive streaming strategies. In the meantime, it’s important to keep the actual level of Internet audio listening in perspective.”

And some are suggesting that Pandora itself is bracing for an onslaught from Spotify, the European on-demand music service that just inched closer to a U.S. launch with a deal with Sony Music (see coverage below). Inside Radio this week suggested an eventual Spotify launch in this country may add urgency to a rumored Pandora $100 million IPO. Industry expert Robert Maccini (below right) of Angel Street Capital wrote in company’s blog, “While I believe both Spotify and Pandora can coexist, Spotify is going to substantially curtail Pandora’s growth. Pandora touts personalization but Spotify is the ultimate in personalization.”

So now broadcasters will have to compete with not only Pandora, but Spotify, and other services like MOG? Maccini thinks this is indeed bad news for broadcast music radio. “I am still hoping that the terrestrial stations streaming online will adopt a different approach but the high degree of fragmentation makes this difficult except for perhaps CBS and Clear Channel,” he writes. “Clear Channel has been quite active promoting iHeart Radio. Aggregating all of their stations however is not enough to compete with Pandora and Spotify…”

Read more at FoxNews.com here, see Pittman’s interview here, read Paragon’s Johnson here, and Angel Street Capital’s Maccini here.

SPOTIFY/SONY DEAL CONFIRMED, BUT SERVICE STILL NOT CLOSE TO A U.S. LAUNCH

Numerous sources are reporting that European on-demand music service Spotify has indeed signed a deal with Sony Music Entertainment for distribution in the U.S., a key step towards launching the service in this country. Peter Kafka at AllThingsDigital supposes, “In order to make a credible offer to U.S. customers, it will need at least two of the three other big music labels to sign on.”

Read more at AllThingsDigital here.

FORMER PITTSBURGH SPORTS STARS HOST CITY PAPER’S NEW ONLINE SPORTS TALK STATION

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review has launched “SportsTalk on TribLive Radio,” its own sports talk Internet radio station. Radio-Info reports the station offers live content weekdays 9a to 5p, with show repeats the rest of the day (the the aim is to eventually be live round-the-clock). Hosts include former Pittsburgh pro and collegiate athletes like former Pittsburgh Penguin Rick Tocchet, former Steeler Deshea Townsend and former University of Pittsburgh basketball star Julius Page. Tune in here.

There’s more at Radio-Info here.



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