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RAIN 4/21: In-car Net radio "isn't coming, it's already here," says knowDigital

Posted on: 04/21/2011


“The idea that streaming radio listeners using the medium in cars is predominately a futuristic phenomenon appears invalid.” So declares knowDigital in a new study about in-car Internet radio, presented by president Sam Milkman at RAIN Summit West 2011. “The majority of users we interviewed reported engaging in this activity in their cars,” he said.

knowDigital interviewed Internet radio users as part of their study (“Challenges and Opportunities for In-Car Streaming Radio”) and found that roughly two-thirds of those they spoke to have accessed streaming radio in their cars — usually through a smartphone. That said, most said they wanted an easier way to tune in and would pay for such technology.

However, Milkman (pictured below left) pointed out that their research debunks the perception that Internet radio access in the car will somehow kill AM/FM. knowDigital found that most in-car Internet radio streamers continue to use AM/FM radio “extensively,” usually before tuning in to Internet radio and primarily to hear personality and information-drive content.

But over-the-air stations may only earn one or two spots in the presets of tomorrow. Most respondents only wanted five preset selections: one to control their phone, one for Pandora, one for a personal music collection and then one or two for local AM/FM stations.

knowDigital, a division of Coleman Insights, has more information in their press release here (PDF). Go directly to the report and streaming presentation here.


Hot on the heels of this week’s Chevy Malibu announcement (RAIN coverage here), GM has announced it will bring its web-connected dashboard system (more here) to select 2012 Buick and GMC models.

Renamed IntelliLink for these cars, the system connects to a smartphone to stream Pandora and Stitcher through the car’s stereo. IntelliLink will be available for the Buick LaCrosse, Regal, Verano, and the GMC Terrain. Autoblog has more coverage here.


Yesterday RAIN reported (here) on the disabling of small webcasting aggregator service SWCast Network, following a SoundExchange request to SWCast.net’s ISP. SWCast Network charges small webcasters a fee to stream and to manage royalty and usage reports for all its clients. SoundExchange says the service has not been in compliance since 2005 — which, while of course SoundExchange doesn’t allege it, raises the question: has this service been fleecing its webcasting customers, leaving the liable for usage fees they thought were covered?

Rusty Hodge is founder and CEO of independent webcaster SomaFM (and not a SWCast Network customer). He wrote this in response to our coverage:

There has been a lot of talk lately about SoundExchange trying to shut down webcasters. I do not believe that this is SoundExchange’s ultimate goal.

In a pure business sense, webcasters are SoundExchange’s customers, and copyright owners are their suppliers. As a business, their PRIMARY goal should be to maximize revenues. Their secondary goal is to minimize loss (or theft, or in this case unauthorized use of sound recordings).

If SoundExchange “shuts a webcaster down” (which I doubt they would DO without copyright owner request to act on their behalf), they’re going to lose out on any potential revenue from that webcaster. But if they can get that webcaster into compliance, then there is new revenue for them and hence their members. By turning non-complying webcasters into complying webcasters, hence making them customers, they’re generating new revenue for their members. After all, this is how
BMI, SESAC, and ASCAP operate. Only if the webcaster refuses to comply with the license fees will they instigate a lawsuit or a DMCA takedown notice.

But this case is not a shutdown of a webcaster per se, but rather a webcast aggregator that took royalty payments on behalf of their member webcasters, but allegedly was not paying any royalties to SoundExchange. I’d be pretty upset about that if I were in SoundExchange’s shoes.

As their members thought their royalty obligations were being paid, I believe SoundExchange’s letter to SWCast.net’s members (here) was to advise those webcasters that the aggregator was not paying or reporting; not to threaten or scare those webcasters off the air, but to get them to switch to an aggregator who was paying royalties and fulfilling their reporting obligations. I saw the letter SoundExchange sent to those broadcasters, and it seemed very reasonable.

Maybe SoundExchange needs to publish a list of those approved aggregators so that webcasters can be confident that the provider they’re working with is meeting the terms of the Section 114 compulsory. At a minimum, it’s good to see SoundExchange point out which webcast aggregators are not fulfilling their legal royalty requirements. — RH, SomaFM


After Pandora was targeted in a mobile privacy brouhaha, industry attorney David Oxenford wrote that it was “but the tip of the iceberg” for privacy issues (RAIN coverage here).

Now UK researchers have brought new attention to the fact that Apple iPhones track users’ location constantly, “then timestamps that data and records it for posterity. Without alerting you that it’s doing it and without asking for permission,” reports Engadget here and here.

This tracking was actually uncovered in June 2010, but the new attention its generating only serves to highlight how mobile privacy is becoming a major issue. One which broadcasters and webcasters alike should pay attention to.

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