The commercials have inundated radio stations across the nation touting the grandness of the iHeartRadio app for smartphone users. Is there really a difference between radio stations and the app itself? Clear Channel the owner of iHeartRadio created the app to target audiences across the nation pitching the idea that users can create their own stations and listen to songs whenever they like. The concept is not dissimilar to Pandora, but with substantially more advertisements. The new iHeartRadio application was revamped from its original status allowing users to create customized stations, very much like Pandora, where before the 2011 release of the application users were not able to do so. “The big to-do is that Clear Channel has teamed up with Echo Nest to enable iHeartRadio listeners to create personal radio stations, just like those on Pandora” (
The website brand was first launched in April of 2008 with little success. The site had approximately 750 artists with some downloadable singles available for web users. In order to turn around the brand’s success, Clear Channel decided to put on a music festival with various artist from varying genres of music in Las Vegas on September 23, 2011. According to CEO, Bob Pittman, “When we introduced the iHeartRadio Music Festival in 2011, we set out to deliver a groundbreaking, must-see live music event that would take our listeners and the music industry by storm, and, like our iHeartRadio digital service, showcase top artists across all genres of music” (Aristone Pittman 1).The company then secured Ryan Seacrest as the host for festivities and the concert itself sold out in less than 10 minutes. Clear Channel stations then released a multitude of contests across their stations to bring in users and give away tickets for the event including contests run by MTV. The concert featured some of the top named music stars in the business, and proclaimed to be “”the biggest live music event in radio history” which brought about many skeptical comments from bloggers including James Montgomery of MTV fame, “It’s being billed as “the biggest live music event in radio history” (whatever that means)” (Montgomery 1).
The event itself was a smashing success bringing Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio station a phenomenal jump in Facebook Likes, Twitter followers, and downloads of the app itself. Angel Aristone reports on just how successful the concert and subsequent app launch has been for Clear Channel:
“‘The New iHeartRadio has reinvented the digital listening experience and has exceeded fans’ expectations since its launch last September at the inaugural iHeartRadio Music Festival,’ said John Hogan, Chairman and CEO of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. ‘It has been widely acclaimed by the music industry, technology reviewers and fans as best-in-class, and was recently named the official winner of the About.com Readers’ Choice Award for Best Radio App. We are thrilled to bring back the iHeartRadio Music Festival to celebrate the success of our fully-integrated digital product, which continues to reshape our industry.’
iHeartRadio is the number one free broadcast app on the iPhone and Android. iHeartRadio’s Facebook page has grown more than 2.8 million fans in less than a year with the announcement of the 2011 iHeartRadio Music Festival. Clear Channel continues to be one of the most popular digital music destinations, given the 100 million listening hours a month, more than 60 million downloads of iHeartRadio mobile apps, and more than a 15 million fan reach through its station and radio personality Facebook pages” (Aristone Pittman 1).
Clear channel now touts a whopping 237 million monthly listeners in the U.S. with its radio stations, HD stations, Sirius stations, and iHeartRadio app which reach 150 stations across the country via its 850 local radio stations. The obvious strengths of the iHeartRadio brand is that being owned by Clear Channel it has an enormous range of fans, listeners, and demographic to reach out and market to. The commercials heard on nearly every local radio station will target almost every listener regardless of music genre they favor. The app before the concert push in 2011 was considered one of the most popular apps among Blackberry users in 2009 according to Jonathan Mirow of Broadband Video Inc., “In the first two weeks of availability in April of this year, BlackBerry users downloaded the app over a quarter million times, making it the second-most-popular application offered by BlackBerry at that time” (Mirow 1). Another strength of the iHeartRadio brand and app is that unlike Pandora the app has access to over 11 million songs definitely overshadowing Pandora’s 900,00 by comparison.
The app does not come without scrutiny however, many complaints about how much information the iHeartRadio app has available is something many users are questioning. The application uses Facebook to log in giving the app and Clear Channel a plethora of user information, demographics, and details that some users would simply not like to be shared, “The only catch with IHeartRadio is that in order to build a station you must sign up through your Facebook account. This function is perfect for media buyers because it allows us access to a listener’s key demographic information and the ability to geo-target” (Schultz 1).
Another weakness of the iHeartRadio app is how late that it has released its latest and greatest version which may have a hard time competing with veterans like Pandora,
“The editor of Radio and Internet Newsletter, Kurt Hanson, stated that ‘Pandora’s audience has been growing at a 100% a year’ and the service is ‘far too entrenched for Clear Channel to make an impact.’ Other critics also side with Pandora, saying Clear Channel is rolling out the new iHeartRadio too late in the game” (McRae 1). Pandora will be creating a completely new look, adding more social media usage, and revamping the website to solidify its 100 million users who have been listening to the internet station for over 11 years . USA Today compares the applications in an article by Jefferson Graham in September of last year.
Several determining factors of the iHeartRadio app will ultimately decide its fate, but the end result lies with the listeners. If they want that much of their information exposed, will they be satisfied with the constant battering of commercials, or will there be little difference to them in the end?
Aristone, Angel, and Bob Pittman. “Clear Channel Announces the Return of the IHeartRadio Music Festival â the Biggest Live Concert Event in Radio History.” Clear Channel Announces the Return of the IHeartRadio Music Festival â the Biggest Live Concert Event in Radio History. Clear Channel, 2 Apr. 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2012. <http://eon.businesswire.com/news/eon/20120402005624/en/Clear-Channel/iHeartRadio/iHeartRadio-Music-Festival>.
Graham, Jefferson. “Clear Channel’s IHeartRadio Takes on Pandora.” USA Today. Gannett, 13 Sept. 2011. Web. 08 Apr. 2012. <http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/story/2011-09-13/iheart-radio-clear-channel/50393228/1>.
“IHeartRadio Adds Video.” All Access. All Access Music Group, 12 Oct. 2009. Web. 08 Apr. 2012. <http://www.allaccess.com/net-news/archive/story/65170/iheartradio-adds-video>.
McRea, Mallorie. “IHeartRadio, the New Pandora?” The Radio Agency. The Radio Agency, 20 Sept. 2011. Web. 08 Apr. 2012. <http://www.theradioagency.com/blog/iheartradio-the-new-pandora/>.
Mirow, Jonathan. “Clear Channel Radio Debuts Android App.” MediaPost Publications 12/28/2009. BroadBand Video Inc., 24 Dec. 2009. Web. 08 Apr. 2012. <http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/119706/>.
Montgomery, James. “Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Coldplay Confirmed For I Heart Radio Festival.” – Music, Celebrity, Artist News. MTV, 11 July 2011. Web. 08 Apr. 2012. <http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1667041/lady-gaga-coldplay-i-heart-music-festival.jhtml>.
Schultz, Jackie. “Radio Gone Digital; Pandora vs. IHeartRadio.” Brogan & Partners Convergence Marketing. Brogan & Partners, 11 Nov. 2011. Web. 08 Apr. 2012. <http://www.brogan.com/blog/radio-gone-digital-pandora-vs-iheartradio>.
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