Bob Struble on iTunes tagging


A hot topic last week was Polk Audio and JBL introducing receivers with an integrated iPod dock and HD Radio. Apple is enabling HD digital radio’s ‘push to buy’ technology via its iTunes service.  This new "iTunes tagging" feature enables consumers to ‘tag’ a song by pushing a button. The next time the iPod is synced on iTunes, tagged songs are displayed and available for purchase.   We asked iBiquity Digital CEO Bob Struble a bit about the tagging feature and how stations can encode it in their HD stream.

How is the tagging data placed in the HD broadcast?
"There are certain fields in the digital bitstream that are reserved for special tagging, and we put the unique song identifier into those fields. Bits are bits, but it is in a different area of the spectrum than the song, artist and title stuff."

How many broadcasters have committed to encoding so far?
"Between five and 10. We’re going to have a bigger rollout of that announcement hopefully at the NAB Radio Show. Our assumption is this is going to be very widely deployed because the effort that a broadcaster/individual station has to go through to be able to tag songs is really pretty trivial and we think this is going to be a sought-after consumer feature, so we think they’ll want to do it."

What do broadcasters need to do to add the tagging component in the signal?
"It’s generally taken out of their studio automation equipment, so the metadata is there which identifies the song. That is then matched up with a data table that has a bunch of unique IDs that sit in iTunes. So as the song is played, the software goes and grabs a unique identifier, puts it in the digital data stream and sends it out. It’s just software which goes into the automation system or it might be a small box, depending on the system they’ve got."