CC Radio buys Thumbplay's cloud-based music service


The plan is to incorporate Thumbplay’s custom ‘radio station’ service (The “Playlist Genie”) into its iHeartRadio, the digital platform for 750 CC Radio stations nationwide, to allow listeners to create a Pandora-like personalized listening stream. The combined technologies are expected to accelerate development and growth of the next generation of iHeartRadio digital products in general. In addition to offering personalized ‘radio stations,’ the new iHeartRadio platform will power Clear Channel’s 750 radio stations from 150 cities and the company’s digital-only commercial-free stations, and provide new features and functionality.

Thumbplay bills itself as the leading mobile entertainment provider in the U.S. Thumbplay Music, the company’s cloud-based, streaming/download music service for smartphones and PCs/Macs, was launched in January 2010 with more than 8 million songs under license. features licensed music, video and games from EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, as well as several independent labels and artists.

The agreement includes Thumbplay’s music service, platform and team of mobile technology, product and marketing experts, but does not include its ringtone biz.

Thumbplay (which charges 9.99 per month) will also give Clear Channel the capability to deploy a variety of subscription services as it moves to leverage its radio assets across all digital platforms, including the Internet, automotive and mobile devices. Remember, Toyota will integrate Clear Channel’s iheartradio mobile app into select models starting this year.

The technology, like iHeartRadio, works on PCs and Macs, as well as smartphones including Android, iPhone and BlackBerrys.

With more than 24 million app downloads and 25 million monthly unique users, iHeartRadio is one of the most popular music applications on mobile devices and is consistently in the top downloads of free music apps for the iPhone as well as in the BlackBerry app store.

RBR-TVBR observation: It’s an interesting proposition. iHeartRadio has done a great job keeping CC Radio listeners listening, via non-radio devices. But this addition will offer to send them away from the radio stations’ stream and to a music service that will compete with Pandora. It almost has to be done to offer Clear Channel advertisers broader package with which to buy (and keep as many listeners as possible in the “CC Corral”), but let’s hope it does not become a major siphon that diverts ears away from their core product. The radio station service will also likely be subscription-based, as Thumbplay already charges. But we’d bet there will eventually be a free, ad-supported option.