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RAIN 9/8: Clear Channel launches new customizable iHeartRadio beta; RAIN goes hands-on
·Sep 8, 05:47 AM
Posted by: Michael Schmitt

RAIN REVIEW: BEST STREAMING SERVICE FROM A BROADCASTER YET

Clear Channel has launched a Beta version of the new iHeartRadio, which includes the much-anticipated “Pandora-like” Custom Radio service.

Simply put, the new iHeartRadio feels like the best effort from a broadcaster yet to take on customizable pureplay webcasters. The service feels well-designed, easy-to-use and cohesive — especially when compared to CBS Radio’s Radio.com, which struggles to weld together separate services.

The new iHeartRadio website presents Clear Channel radio stations clearly alongside the new custom radio features. Users can choose from featured custom stations — with the usual suspects at the center: Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, etc. — or create their own via search box (a la Pandora, Slacker, Last.fm and others).

Custom stations can be created around a specific artist or song, like on Pandora. The player itself (pictured below) mimics Pandora’s new HTML5 site (more here), down to the thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons. However, unlike Pandora, iHeartRadio offers a slider which allows the user to request more familiar music or opt for more discovery (reminiscent of MOG’s radio slider, more here).

Taking another page from Pandora’s book, the new iHeartRadio offers its own social network of sorts. Users can see what their friends are up to on the site: what stations they’re listening to, what music they recently liked and so on. The site also offers artist information, lyrics, song bookmarking and sharing features.

For now, there are no ads in Custom Radio and no monthly listening caps, though users can only skip 6 songs per hour due to licensing restrictions.

In short, Clear Channel has built a contender. Though nearly identical to Pandora, the service has a few new features that should encourage visitors to stick around — plus it keeps Clear Channel’s over 800 AM/FM stations within easy reach.

You can try the new iHeartRadio for yourself here. — MS

SURVEY: AUSTRALIANS USING NEW SERVICES, INCLUDING WEB RADIO, AS BROADBAND SPEEDS INCREASE

Australian Internet users are trying new web services — including Internet radio — as they gain access to faster broadband speeds, according to a new survey. In fact, more than 9 in 10 respondents said they’ve tried a new service online since getting faster speeds.

The fourth-most popular new activity is listening to Internet radio, with 15% of respondents saying they now stream webcasts. Meanwhile, the volume of data downloaded by Australians is up a third over 2010 — probably due to the growing popularity of streaming video and radio.

“It’s amazing how the number of people mainly using the Internet to listen to online radio is nearly the same as those who are now into online gaming,” commented Compare Broadband, the company behind this new survey. Find more coverage here.

DEVELOPER TURNS SPOTIFY INTO PANDORA-LIKE RADIO

Spotify’s radio offerings leave a lot to be desired (read RAIN‘s review of the service here), but one developer has turned Spotify into a Pandora-like radio service called Echofi.

The site opens the Spotify application in the background to play the music, but lets the user rate music within the site itself. Echofi uses The Echo Nest to build a radio station out of a specificed artist (that’s the same service Clear Channel will use to take on Pandora with its updated iHeartRadio service, more here).

Echofi’s developer has big plans for the service. Wired has more coverage here.

LIQUID COMPASS DEBUTS NEW STREAMING PRODUCTS

Liquid Compass has announced LC Pro 2.0, the company’s latest streaming radio platform, and an update to their Client Control Center. Both products will be available for demonstration at the NAB/RAB Radio Show, which runs from September 14-16 in Chicago, IL. Find out more from Liquid Compass’ press release here.



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