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RAIN 6/28: Slacker to power relaunched AOL Radio

Posted on: 06/28/2011

SLACKER: PARTNERSHIP WILL MORE THAN DOUBLE OUR AUDIENCE

Personalizable web radio service Slacker will power AOL Radio after a relaunch in late summer, as the latter service migrates away from CBS Radio. The partnership will more than double Slacker’s audience, according to Slacker SVP of marketing Jonathan Sasse. If true, that would expose quite a few new listeners to Slacker’s Pandora-like web radio offerings, as well as their premium ad-free and on-demand subscription services.

Slacker also gains original editorial content from AOL Music.

CBS Radio currently hosts AOL Radio’s 250 stations in the Radio.com platform. CBS decided to sunset their partnership with AOL Radio earlier this month, according to a memo from CBS Interactive president David Goodman. The move appears to be a part of ongoing expansions and modifications to CBS Interactive’s online platforms (such as the relaunch of MP3.com and the addition of Last.fm streams to Radio.com; RAIN coverage here).

For AOL Radio, the new partnership brings Slacker’s personalization features and integration with non-music programming from ESPN Radio and ABC News Radio.

Initially, Slacker will handle ad sales within the new AOL Radio player, thus “enabling AOL to package a portion of the inventory for premium AOL Music integrated sponsorships.” The relaunch will also include new mobile apps from AOL Radio.

RADICAL.FM HAS AMBITIONS TO TAKE ON PANDORA, SPOTIFY AND TURNTABLE.FM…ALL AT ONCE

Radical.fm is a new web radio website going after Pandora-like customizable Internet radio services, on-demand platforms like Spotify and socially-minded listening sites like Turntable.fm.

Currently in a private beta stage, Radical.fm lets users create new stations based on genres or artists (the latter pre-populates your station with the appropriate genre channels, like “60s Rock” for The Beatles). You can customize how often a certain genre plays using sliders.

The site also offers on-demand listening to premium subscribers in the form of playlists.

An interesting feature called LiveShare lets users tune in to other Radical.fm user-created stations and listen along with them. A coming DJ Mic feature will even allow the host user to speak to his or her listeners.

The site certainly packs together many trendy features, but the beta status makes itself known in more ways than one. Getting started is trickier than the services Radical.fm is competing with, for example. Can Radical.fm take on Pandora, Spotify and Turntable.fm by offering all of their services in the same package? We’re excited to find out. — MS

SYNC ISSUES HURT FORD’S J.D. POWER RATING

Ford’s J.D. Power rating took a hit (falling to 23rd when last year they were at #5), largely due to problems with electronic features like SYNC.

SYNC is the dashboard system that offers drivers — among many features — the ability to stream Internet radio via a connected smartphone (RAIN coverage here).

SYNC is simply too complicated for many consumers,” writes Fred Jacobs of Jacobs Media, who owns a SYNC-powered Ford Edge. “It’s confusing for someone who just wants to jump in their car and listen to the Classic Rock station in town.”

Jacobs argues (here) systems like SYNC may be confusing now, “but they’re going to get better, easier and more intuitive.” He then shifts the focus onto broadcasters’ own digital offerings: “Look at your station’s website, your Facebook page, and your app, and consider it from the consumer’s point of view.”

DOES INVESTMENT IN LEGACY TECH MAKE RADIO CHEER PANDORA’S STUMBLES?

Jennifer Lane wonders today why broadcasters are so delighted at Pandora’s small stock price wobble following its IPO. She’s concluded that their deep investment in their licenses and infrastructure makes them hope for failure of other listening platforms (even ones where they themselves could very well have success).

She writes in Audio4Cast (here), “Delighting in a failed Internet radio IPO won’t make Internet radio go away.”



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