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RAIN 5/18: Kurt Hanson and John Gehron argue new platforms leading way to radio's 4th golden age

Posted on: 05/18/2010


Yesterday, RAIN publisher/AccuRadio CEO Kurt Hanson and AccuRadio COO John Gehron both spoke on the “State of the Industry” — a presentation that should be familiar to attendees of RAIN summits. Hanson spoke at the San Francisco Music Tech Summit, while Gehron was at BIA/Kelsey’s Digital Strategies for Broadcasting conference.

Both argued that we’re witnessing the fourth golden age of radio, characterized by four features: Personalization, variety, fewer commercials and ubiquity. Internet radio has led the way in this new golden age, but “the big question is,” as Gehron asked, “will broadcasters step up?” After all, anyone — especially broadcasters — can take advantage of this fourth golden age. Tom Taylor has more on Gehron’s presentation in today’s Radio-Info newsletter, while ZDNet reports on Hanson’s address here and you can watch a video above of his presentation — plus a webcaster panel with Pandora founder Tim Westergren.

The San Fran Music Tech Summit is a semi-annual gathering of “developers, entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, journalists, musicians and organizations” in the music and technology space (more here). BIA/Kelsey’s conference focused on the continuing shift toward digital media and how broadcasters can reinvent themselves (more here).


Facebook’s new Open Graph features — which among other things integrate with Pandora to share what users like across the web — have sparked a growing backlash as users worry about loss of privacy (RAIN coverage here, here and here). Now Billboard weighs in (here), arguing that Facebook’s new features can benefit both consumers and the music industry.

“It’s been said over and over that the key to the digital music future is a service that can do the best job of not only delivering the music that users want to hear, but to introduce users to new music that they don’t know they like yet, and monetize the entire process. To do that, services need to know what kind of music you like in order to recommend other things you may also like.” Facebook’s Open Graph, combined with music services like Pandora and Rhapsody, can do this. But, argues Billboard, Facebook needs to address user concerns and be more transparent about changes. In the end though, perhaps “only pressure from the content partners and brands [like Pandora, Napster, Rhapsody] it’s hoping to do business with can do that.”

While, as Billboard notes, “the raging backlash against Facebook’s privacy policies seems almost laughably absurd,” events are escalating. By now, several publications including Gizmodo and Wired have either recommended ditching Facebook or looking to alternatives, while privacy advocates have filed an unfair trade complaint with the FTC and 3 U.S. Senators have “weighed in on the issue.” This debate is far from over.


UK media analyst Grant Goddard was struck by the disparity between RAJAR’s latest data on radio listening (RAIN coverage here) and the accompanying press release — and subsequent media coverage. “Radio listening in the UK has reached an all time high,” RAJAR wrote. “The RAJAR press release is deliberately misleading in its use of wording,” argues Goddard. In fact, he points out (here) using RAJAR’s own data, “the average amount of time adult radio listeners spend listening to the radio has been declining dramatically over the same period.” RAJAR can only claim “all time highs” because the UK population is always increasing, meaning more radio listeners overall.

For Goddard, this begs the question, “Is RAJAR a cheerleader for radio, to convince Licence Fee payers and advertisers how successful radio is? …How can the radio industry expect to be treated seriously within the wider media sector when its industry ratings body, charged with publishing objective listening data, insists upon grabbing headlines with misleading facts about radio audiences?”


Many local ESPN Radio affiliates are launching individual iPhone apps. Along with providing access to live streaming radio from each station, the apps will local and national sports news, weather, blog posts and more. First to come will be the app from ESPNDallas.com, followed by Boston, Chicago, L.A., New York in the next few weeks. Find out more, including a video walk-through, from ESPN here.


Sonos’ wireless home music systems have been updated to include access to Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio Net radio portal. That gives users access to 750 streaming stations from Clear Channel — in addition to Last.fm, Sirius XM Radio, Pandora and other music services already included in Sonos systems. Other updates include crossfading for smooth transitions between songs and the ability to link two of Sonos’ wireless ZonePlayer S5 speakers (pictured) to create a “stereo pair.” Engadget has more on the new features here.

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Conference schedules
Sep. 12 SF Music Tech Summit: San Francisco, CA
Sep. 13 RAIN Summit Chicago @ NAB/RAB RadioShow: Chicago, IL
Sep. 14-16 NAB/RAB RadioShow: Chicago, IL
Sep. 24 IBS Radio/Webcast Conf.: Chicago, IL
Oct. 6-7 Digital Music Forum West: Los Angeles, CA
Oct. 13-14 Digital Content Summit/Music: New York, NY
Oct. 18-22 CMJ Music Marathon: New York, NY
Oct. 27-30 CBI Fall Convention: Orlando, FL
Nov. 5 IBS Radio/Webcast Conf.: Boston, MA
Nov. 19 IBS Radio/Webcast Conf.: New York, NY
Dec. 3 IBS Radio/Webcast Conf.: Los Angeles, CA