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RAIN 3/1: Clear Channel acquires music subscription service Thumbplay

Posted on: 03/01/2011

CLEAR CHANNEL’S PITTMAN: “THIS IS STEP ONE

Clear Channel has acquired on-demand music subscription service Thumbplay and plans to integrate the company’s cloud-based music technology into iHeartRadio.

Thumbplay offers unlimited on-demand music streaming for $10 a month. The service has reportedly collected 20,000 subscribers since launching in March 2010. Previously, Thumbplay sold ringtones to the tune of $100 million a year. (Thumbplay’s ringtone business was not included in the sale to Clear Channel and will be sold off separately.)

Terms of the sale were not disclosed, but All Things Digital reports the price was under $41 million.

Clear Channel says the acquisition will allow it to “deploy a variety of subscription services as the company moves quickly to leverage its significant radio assets across all digital platforms, including the Internet, automotive and mobile devices.”

“This is step one,” said Bob Pittman (pictured left), Clear Channel’s chairman of media and entertainment platforms “We need to get ahead of the [digital] curve and not behind it…the acquisition of Thumbplay’s music business is a key element in Clear Channel Radio’s aggressive digital strategy.”

Pittman — who has been very vocal about Clear Channel’s digital plans — said earlier this year that Clear Channel was creating “its own version of Pandora” (RAIN coverage here).

To read more on the story, find Clear Channel’s press release here and All Things Digital‘s coverage in The Wall Street Journal here.

OVER HALF OF COUNTRY RADIO LISTENERS HAVE TUNED IN ONLINE IN PAST 6 MONTHS, FINDS SURVEY

Around 60% of country radio listeners said they listened to a local country station online in the last six months, according to a survey from Albright & O’Malley. Approximately 75% of these online listeners tune in via computers, while 6% listen via their smartphones. Another 10% say they listen on iPods and MP3 players and 20% listen on “other devices.”

Additionally, Albright & O’Malley found that time spent listening online is “growing,” with 33% of listeners currently reporting that they listen for less than 1 hour a week online. 25% say they listen online for 1-3 hours a week.

“It’s become increasingly important to a significant portion of our audience that country radio stations be available online on all platforms,” writes Albright & O’Malley consulting partner Jaye Albright in Radio Ink. “Online listening increases the amount of time these folks spend with their favorite country radio stations.”

More info, including what listeners expect of country radio station websites, can be found here (PDF).

WEB-CONNECTED TV PLATFORM BOXEE RAISES $16.5m

Boxee, the maker of web-connected TV software and the set-top Boxee Box (pictured left), has raised $16.5 million in new financing. Though focused on services like Netflix and Vudu, Boxee also features many Internet radio apps like Pandora, Last.fm and RadioTime.

CEO of Roku — a similar product — recently stated that Pandora is their second-most used app (RAIN coverage here). And that’s really no surprise. Read more on the story here.



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