Let the competition with Pandora begin: The upgraded iHeartRadio app will offer access to 800 live CC Radio stations plus personalized music stations. The official launch happens 9/23 at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas.
It’ll be available on the iPhone beginning on Monday, 9/12; and will also be compatible with the iPad and iPod Touch. Android and other platforms will follow in the near future. iHeartRadio’s current mobile app lets listeners take their favorite live stations and DJs with them wherever they go, and is available on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Blackberry, Android, Windows Phone 7, Mac, and PC.
The technology behind the Pandora-like custom stations are from Echo Nest, a music intelligence platform powering music apps. Echo Nest technology intelligently understands artist connections, song similarity, mood, style and detailed acoustic attributes (tempo, energy, danceability, time signature, key) to offer users a fully personalized radio feature.
The custom stations feature a catalog of more than 11 million songs and 400,000 artists — more than 10 times the number of songs offered by Pandora, according to iHeartRadio.
Some additional features of the upgrade:
* Deeper Social Media Integration – iHeartRadio’s user Profile Pages and social media tools show users what songs their friends have recently listened to and the songs and artists they like. Listeners can also share songs and stations by posting to Facebook and Twitter. From 9/8 to 9/14, users can access the beta by first ‘Liking’ iHeartRadio on Facebook (facebook.com/iheartradio) and then going to iheartradio.com. Beginning 9/14, users can experience the beta by going directly to iheartradio.com.
* By adjusting an onscreen ‘control slider,’ iHeartRadio users can ‘tune’ their Custom Station to play the music catalog’s more familiar songs – or adjust it to a discovery mode to play a wider variety of artists and music. A “Thumbs Up” or “Thumbs Down” feature allows users to indicate song preferences to further personalize their Custom Stations.
* “My Stations” will act as a bookmark allowing users to save their favorite real and custom stations and easily access them with a single click. “My Stations” stay in sync between the web and users’ mobile devices for quick access at home and on the go.
* Unlike Pandora, there is no monthly cap on listening hours.
* Custom Stations will be commercial-free until the end of the year.
Currently, there are 50 million listening hours a month and 34 million downloads of iHeartRadio mobile apps.
RBR-TVBR observation: CC is tossing everything but the sink at iHeartRadio to build a solid comScore because without a solid comScore number it is difficult to get the ad dollars. comScore is a global leader in measuring the digital world.
This is a big threat to Pandora. Offering no commercials through the end of the year, paired with unlimited listening hours per month (Pandora limits free listening to 40 hours/month) and an incessant promotional campaign across CC Radio stations nationwide (and at the iHeartRadio Music Festival) is going to put a dent in Pandora’s listening. It’s almost like a top station in a market is getting a major format competitor, stunting with a wider selection of songs and no commercials for over three months.
But as we’ve said, the more CC Radio stations promote the Pandora-like app that’s available on iHeartRadio, the more listeners they’ll be driving from their radio stations and online streams. But ad dollars are ad dollars and you’ll be hearing them play come 2012 on iHearRadio’s new custom music app.