iHeartRadio v. Pandora
I did not go to the iHeartRadio concert last month in Las Vegas. It would have been fun, and I doubt that anyone will ever put together a show this big again. However, I did read plans are already in place for next year.
You all noticed that it was a RADIO company that was able to pull it off, right? Okay, it was the on-line version of the RADIO company. I read that it cost $10 million but over 10 million people logged on and/or downloaded the new app. It seems to me Clear Channel got a great return for the marketing money.
I do not work for Clear Channel. I have never worked for Clear Channel. But I am pulling for Clear Channel to successfully blunt Pandora. I know that at least half of the people reading this article could not care less who wins this battle because a pipe is a pipe is a pipe.
But that is not true. The obvious advantage that Clear Channel has is that they also have about 1000 radio stations in their stable. They have thousands of boots on the ground. They have long-standing relationships with artists and record company representatives. Clear Channel is in it for the long haul.
They have the ability to impact music on their hundreds of music radio stations. Let’s think about that for a minute. If there are 5 million people using the “create your own station” on iHeartRadio, is that information being made available to their stations? I hope so. I hope that someone will say, “Here is some research about what songs are being marked positive or negative across the platform.”
We know that listeners and viewers are using everything at their disposal when looking for media. I watch HBO GO and Netflix on my Android phone. I use radio.com, IHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio and read the Wall Street Journal on my tablet.
We’re not tied to the standard radio any longer but we’re still listening to the radio. I am always going to lean to the players who think enough about the industry to include ‘radio’ in their name. It is NOT a small thing.
Everything at the recent National Association of Radio meeting in Chicago was digital. Bob Pittman, the new CEO of Clear Channel, gave an enthusiastic defense of radio versus Pandora at the meeting. The irony is that this was less than 10 days before Clear Channel touted their digital Pandora fighter in Las Vegas.
I want there to be no question that I see the irony but no hypocrisy. Clear Channel’s foray into that field is a defensive move as much as an attempt to build a new business. Radio should be behind Clear Channel in this effort.
I do not want to give Clear Channel an in against my radio stations. If I compete against a Clear Channel station in market X I am not going to run ads for IHeartRadio, but I would not be running ads for Pandora either. As an aside, do you ever wonder why over the air TV stations run ads for HBO? And then wonder why the audience for over the air TV has decreased year after year? I digress.
Those of us involved in radio or the record industry have a challenge every day to be the most entertaining, most compelling choice for the consumer. Newcomer Casey James is not jealous of Keith Urban (okay bad choice…we’re all jealous of Keith Urban). Casey knows that he has to work hard and find the best music, get out and see station personnel and work his way up the charts.
I have clients that compete directly with Clear Channel stations. I am not jealous or afraid of what these stations do with IHeartRadio. What we try to do is produce a better terrestrial radio station. What we try to do is build websites that are attractive to the listeners. We try to offer information and entertainment that they listeners want.
The bottom line for Clear Channel and all radio stations is that we have the bullhorn. Radio is the big guy in this space. I have an example where David is really Goliath.
A lot of manufacturers have made a run at the iPad. Most have fallen by the wayside: HP, Samsung, Motorola, etc. Why would Amazon think they can make a dent in Apple?
“Amazon has an advantage that other tablet manufacturers don’t have in that millions of people already visit its site on a regular basis,” said Evercore Partners analyst Ken Sena, in the Sept. 28 Wall Street Journal.
Radio has that same advantage over Pandora. It is just that until recently radio companies failed to provide an attractive alternative. It is now in the field. CBS radio will surely come with something similar in the coming months and then some entrepreneur will build something for smaller companies.
But behind it all, the 295 million people who listen to radio each week will know about it.