Posts Tagged ‘Internet Radio’

Tivoli Brings Simplicity to Internet Radio

June 2, 2009

internetradioSaul Hansel, who covers the Internet beat for The New York Times and blogs at The Times “Bits” blog, has a great article up right now that I highly recommend. It’s an interview with Tom DeVesto, the chief executive of Tivoli Audio, a company that makes high end radio devices including a variety of Internet radios.

Hansel starts off with the thought that what people want out of radio is simplicity: you turn it on and do other things. It’s a companion while you work, drive, etc. In his interview, he asks DeVesto, whose company produces luxury radios in the $600-$1,000 rage, how the people who purchase their radios see the revolution in digital music.

Mr. DeVesto had a clear vision of his customer: someone who uses a computer at work, carries a BlackBerry, but who doesn’t want to use ever more scarce leisure time to figure out some imperfect gadget.

“He doesn’t want to make his wine; he wants to open a bottle,” he explained. Music is simply not an end it itself, but something to accompany daily activities.

“The days of putting on an album, sitting down and listening to it are over,” he said. “Music is part of living.”

An interesting note, all of Tivoli’s Internet radio-capable devices are primarily built around content coming from traditional radio stations that also stream online. Tivoli is aiming for people who do not wish to spend the time learning how iTunes works — or any other player interfaces, for that matter. DeVesto also said:

“You don’t want to walk into a room with 10,000 CDs and have to look at them to pick out what you want,” he said. “You want to turn on the radio, hear the song that comes on and say, ‘This is great.’ ”

Once again we see radio viewed as a sort of music concierge, delivering entertainment with a minimum of button pushing and effort. While Tivoli has embraced the luxury market there are other encouraging developments for streaming stations. Only last month I wrote about the Epoq  EIR-PW01 Internet radio player, a portable Internet radio that is soon to hit the market.

So, while Tivoli and Epoq bring radio’s simplicity and portability to the public, we continue to see wi-fi become more and more common. The other day I was at Findlay Market, a farmer’s market in Cincinnati, and there were signs up saying they had wi-fi. I predict in the near future we will find Internet radio almost as ubiquitous as traditional radio is now.

Photo courtesy of mightyohm, used under its Creative Commons license

Is That An Internet Radio In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

May 1, 2009

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In the 1960’s radio experienced a revolution with the introduction of portable, pocket-sized AM receivers. Suddenly broadcast content became mobile ushering in a new era for listener access. Now, half a century later, we are about to see a similar leap forward as Epoq Multimedia prepares to debut the first pocket-sized Internet radio!

Epoq Multimedia, a brand owned by Paradigm Shift, will be debuting their new EIR-PW01 Internet radio player at the end of May this year. The unit will fit into your pocket just like the AM receivers of yore but bringing over 12,000 Internet radio stations to your ears while doing so. Exactly the kind of innovation one would expect from the company that debuted the wristwatch cell phone. Of course this does beg the question “what use is it when away from wi-fi?”

Joseph Palenchar, Senior editor of Twice, who has been covering the electronics industry for 25 years shared some additional details on the unit recently:

It also features an FM tuner, 1500mAh lithium-ion battery with up to 10 hours of listening time, a stereo minijack output, and a built-in mono speaker. The device uses a scroll wheel to access station presets, search for stations by genres, and perform other functions. Its battery can be recharged by standard USB connection or AC adapter.

Coming sharp on the heels of speculation about an integrated FM tuner in the new version of the iPhone, this is great news. Portability and ubiquity are two of radio’s most important traits, and now it seems that Internet radio is finally embracing them.

I look forward to testing one out when they hit the market at the end of the month!

Photo courtesy of Kalandrakas, used under its Creative Commons license.

Kagan Summit: Internet Radio Ad Sales Soar

April 28, 2009


The Internet is one of the top new frontiers for radio, an arena that has the power to multiply the reach of traditional broadcast in amazing ways. Now that we are firmly entrenched in 2009 that reach is getting illustrated in a very practical way: ad sales.

Jeffrey Yorke, who covers radio for Mediaweek, filed this report from the Kagan Radio/TV Financial Summit:

“Advertisers are embracing online radio faster than anyone ever thought they would,” TargetSpot CEO Doug Perlson told a Kagan Summit panel session on Wednesday (April 1, 2009).

The Kagan Summit has been briefing investors on the radio industry for over 25 years. The Kagan Summit, run by the SNL Center for Financial Education,  provides “the industry’s most objective look at the financial prospects for the broadcast sector.”

Jeff Haly, CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau, told Yorke “revenue for Internet radio was up 28 percent in January and 12 percent in February for a year-to-date average of 17.5 percent.” Those are the kind of numbers that make me smile.

One of the factors driving these sales is not just the phenomenal reach of online radio, but the fact that more specific audiences can be targeted:

“The ability to respond to an ad immediately makes local advertising very appealing because you can target-specific ZIP codes and demographics.” […]

“Digital media offers a deeper, more personal relationship with a community (those users interested in a specific area or thing),” said Richard Kosinski, who left Yahoo! last year to become senior vp and chief digital officer for Westwood One. “Advertisers are willing to pay more money to reach their targeted audiences. And they are talking to marketing managers and telling them they want very specific metrics.”

As we all know, reaching a small number of highly interested listeners with pertinent info is far more effective than reaching large numbers with a less direct correlation of interests. In the Internet age, listeners have come to expect their media to speak to their needs and interests more than ever before. Engagement on this level is incredibly important, and becoming more so every day.

What efforts have you and your station been taking to engage listeners more directly on the Internet? Have your results mirrored the growth in advertising mentioned above?

Photo courtesy of jurvetson used under its Creative Commons license.

Internet Radio Listenership Soars

April 10, 2009

listenAmerican Media Services has just released a study which gives us some heartening numbers. According to their poll (1,005 adults, conducted for AMS by Omnitel between March 27 and 29, accurate to within plus or minus 3 percentage points) it not only seems that listenership for Internet radio is increasing rapidly, it also indicates that 73% of internet radio listeners are tuning in the same amount if not more broadcast radio than they used to.

The story was covered by Eric Rhoads’ Radio Ink Magazine:

“Our latest survey shows the continued vibrancy of radio,” says AMS Chairman Edward Seeger. “Online radio is an increasingly important medium. Regular radio is holding its own. The two media offer choices that are compatible and complementary of each other.”

The age of smart phones and commonly available wi-fi is shrinking the digital divide, bringing Internet access to new users daily and doing so in ways that make it easier and easier to listen to radio. Just look at the array of radio applications already available for download on the iPhone, then factor in the debut of the app store for the Blackberry phone and whatever equivalent comes along from Google Android-based handsets.

With the tap of an icon a listener can bring up a huge variety of streaming radio stations. This is a game changer in an age where there are still many who are intimidated by computers.

Even with half the population of the U.S. now having wi-fi in the home, there is still a vast gulf between those who have access and those who do not. For those who do not, radio remains essential. For those who are on the Internet, the options for finding radio wherever they go are increasing rapidly.

Photo courtesy of vagawi, used under its Creative Commons license

Introducing Infinite Radio

March 31, 2009

wifi

Peter Ha over at CrunchGear has very definite opinions about a new radio that’s just hitting the market:

The standard alarm clock radio I owned as a kid is an archaic POS compared to Acoustic Research’s Infinite Radio.

It’s easy to see why he thinks so once you start looking at the specs on the new radio. The capabilities of the Infinite Radio are compelling. This device is truly the radio for a wired household: It can stream FM and AM band content, recording up to 10 hours of it while doing so; it ties directly into Slacker Personal Radio, pulls weather reports from WeatherBug, and boasts USB and Ethernet connectivity in addition to being wireless.

Darren Murph at EnGadget brings us the following quote:

“In keeping with the AR commitment to quality and technology, we wanted to cut the tether to the PC and bring the vast Internet radio listening experience into other rooms of the home in a way unmatched by any other competitive product,” said Tom Malone, president, Audiovox Electronics Corporation. “We added customization and content partners that will bring consumers an enhanced level of enjoyment available exclusively in the AR Infinite Radios.”

These days, it’s always about breaking away from the restriction of wires (just look at the mobile market). Thus, the timing is great for a new gadget that separates Internet radio from the desktop computer, and puts it back on your nightstand (or office desk).

What I really enjoy about this product is how it brings together broadcast and Internet-based radio while detaching from the computer. I think that we will see adoption accelerate when these new technologies free themselves from the association with desktop machines. Even in this digital age there are many who shy away from computers for one reason or another. Something like this, which combines the familiar nightstand clock radio with 21st-century access to content, is a terrific first step in bridging that divide.

Oh yeah, on a final note, you can access your MP3 library on it as well. The new model (coming soon) will include an actual iPod dock.

Photo courtesy of Dana Spiegel, used under its Creative Commons license.

Clear Channel to Provide Internet Radio Service For Verizon

February 27, 2009

verizon

Clear Channel Communications has been brought in to provide Internet radio service to Verizon Hub customers. Verizon Hub is a home phone service enhanced with on-demand audio/video streaming content to customers. It is a base station that allows one to dock a smartphone and synch it, but it also boasts a 7″ touchscreen and brings texting to the home based phone. Some reviewers (like the one linked above) call it the “Landline Slayer.”

Via the San Antonio Business Journal:

Through this partnership, Verizon customers will be able to access music, sports and talk from 14 Clear Channel radio stations, including top-market stations in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Chicago and Miami. Clear Channel is making this content available through its iheartradio, Internet radio service.

The convergence of phone, radio, and Internet technology continues. Now that the deal is settled, Clear Channel is looking to expand the offerings made through this new arrangement.

“As the premiere provider of audio content for the Verizon Hub, our strong initial line-up of 14 diverse stations will be expanded quickly over the next 30 to 60 days […],” Clear Channel Radio President and CEO John Hogan says.

I’ll be keeping an eye out to see and report on which stations get added as the expansion of services progresses. The more choices available, the more likely this will be to take off.  With over 1,20 radio stations in the Clear Channel stable, we should see the audio choices available increasing rapidly.

The iheartradio app for the iPhone is available for download here. The iheartradio national radio tuner is online here. Go take a look for yourself and let us know what you think!

Can you hear it now?

Photo courtesy of Eric Hauser, used under its Creative Commons license

Web Traffic Rising: CBS Up 30% in December 2008

January 14, 2009

traffic1

Here you go, the latest installment of information on radio evolution.

As broadcast reaches out into the world of the Internet, things become more and more interesting. Embracing the Internet in the early 21st Century means not only new means of reaching listeners with your audio content but also a whole new array of community building tools for those forward thinking stations embracing social media.

While I often write about the latter, today I’d like to share some positive numbers on the former. Eric Sass over at MediaPost presents some encouraging numbers in his most recent article:

CBS Radio’s network of radio station Web sites saw its total number of unique visitors increase 30% in December 2008, compared to the same month in 2007, according to Web analytics service OneStat.com, reaching an all-time high for CBS Radio. The online measurement company also noted that unique visitors grew 7% between November and December 2008.

While not enough to offset other industry losses (yet), these numbers are a great thing to see come across the board. The biggest jump experienced by a CBS station according to Sass was KRLD-Dallas, which had an increase of 133% between December 2007 and 2008.

This, while still a comparatively small part of the equation, is indicative of the importance of embracing online radio. The numbers do not yet counteract the slump we have seen in recent times, but by the same token, these numbers continue to trend upwards.

Evan Harrison, the president of Clear Channel Radio’s online division, confirmed that the Web ops posted about 20% year-over-year growth thus far in 2008, adding that August was their biggest revenue month in history.

Check out the numbers, listen to the future.

Photo courtesy of Burning Image, used under its Creative Commons license

Streaming to Mobile: Flycast

January 13, 2009

flycast_storm_playing_hiphop1FlyCast (originally called FlyTunes) has made a breakthrough in the field of streaming to mobile devices. The service requires use of a data plan that can handle the streaming, but other than that it is completely free. That brings a lot to the table since there are over 1200 Shoutcast stations that can be accessed through the app, and — here’s the first innovation — it’s at CD quality!

Of course, like any Internet-driven service of this nature, the big question for them is, “How do you monetize the service?” The answer is streaming ads.

Via Kevin Parrish at Tom’s Hardware:

“FlyCast is offered free because it’s our goal to have the largest possible audience listening to our member stations,” FlyCast VP of Marketing Roy Smith told Tom’s Hardware. “We are the very first company to perfect the ability to deliver web-style targeted advertising to a “broadcast” audience. We do this by taking advantage of the fact that everyone who is listening has a unique IP address, and when we ask you for basic demographic information (age, sex, location), we now have the ability to serve you ads that “demographically” will appeal to you.”

Audio ads, when they begin insertion of them, are only supposed to be 2-3 minutes of advertising per hour, as opposed to the overall standard of broadcast where audio ads are 15 minutes out of every hour. In addition, FlyCast will be displaying graphic ads on the iPhone, Blackberry, Treo or other device while playing. An interesting two-prong strategy that looks like it could have some legs.

More from the Parrish interview:

“In fact, with our average user listening for 45 minutes per session, we have the opportunity to display thousands of graphic ads per session,” he [Smith] added. “Of course, most people don’t look at their phone or iPod while listening, so these ads are far less valuable from an advertiser standpoint, but still worthwhile.” In some ways that is correct, but when consumers listen to a good song and view the information displayed on-screen, that’s a buck in the music industry’s pocket if the listener clicks through and purchases the song online.

That seems like very little regard for the graphics. At least it did until I thought about the number of songs I have purchased after hearing them on my iPhone. An already impressive number, and one that would, I am sure, go up if I did not have to make a note to look for it later. Never underestimate the power of the impulse buy.

The thing that I am excited about though is the fact that this is a means of raising cash for the ever contentious RIAA royalties for streaming.

According to Smith, FlyCast will actually help save both the recording industry and the radio industry. “The music played on all of our stations generates royalties that the stations pay to RIAA and ultimately a tiny percentage of that actually gets back to the original artists,” he said. “In general, the terrestrial radio world has been slumping and Internet broadcasters have never been able to monetize their streams because they lack that local advertising component. FlyCast solves these problems, and this is why we have been able to sign up heavyweight broadcasters like Entercom (117 stations, most are top station in their market).”

It’s no secret that I am a huge booster of Internet as well as radio.  In fact, I would  say that fully 50% of my listening is done online while typing out the entries for both this and other blogs. As sticky as things have been with the ongoing  drama between webcasters and the RIAA, anything that looks like making a positive contribution to the matter is something to be glad of.

Now, as always after CES, to watch and see how well the implementation goes…

Photo courtesy of the FlyCast Website Press Page

New Year, New Gear: Radio in 2009

January 6, 2009

newjersey_screen01

January is here, and that means that the coolest new toys are going to be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in just a few short days. What better way to kick off our new year than to grab a quick sneak peek at some of the groovy radio toys that are on the horizon?

Today I’ll share something that I have been eagerly awaiting for quite some time: Internet radio available in the dashboard of your auto! While a variety of radio options have existed for listening to Internet Radio in your vehicle this is the first one to provide an in-dash solution.

The folks over at Slippery Brick have a nice little piece about the new toys:

This year’s CES will see Blaupunkt and miRoamer put Internet radio into car dashboards for the first time. According to miRoamer founder and CEO George Parthimos, “miRoamer’s development with Blaupunkt is the first seamless Internet radio solution. With the simple push of a button, users can access AM/FM stations or Internet radio’s thousands of music, entertainment, news and talk stations from around the world, all from the same car stereo.” The first model will connect to a 3G/HSDPA/HSPA device via Bluetooth for Internet connectivity. When connecting to the Internet from an external device (Like an iPhone), the customer’s existing service is the default network. They have various models in the pipeline which may have their own internal modem.

The new devices are the New Jersey 600i and the Hamburg 600i. As best as can be gathered from the sneak preview on Slippery Brick, each one needs to be connected to a smartphone with an unlimited data plan in order to provide access to Internet based stations. I have had a feeling for a while now that smartphones were going to be the initial gateway to Internet radio for the automotive set, and it is nice to be right. On the other hand, it is also very nice to know that models are on the drawing boards already that have internal modems as part of the package.

These units will include navigation, phone, address book, and other extras via  Bluetooth as well as the ability to access thousands of stations. In addition, there will be options that allow you post playlists online to a custom blog.

Photo courtesy of Blaupunkt and miRoamer

Sanyo’s New Toy: Internet Radio R227

December 5, 2008


A little over 50 years ago, Sanyo made history by introducing the first transistor radio to the American public. Now they are introducing another innovation with their new clock radio, the Internet Radio R227.

Talk about plug ‘n play! This little box will not only access FM band and a myriad of Internet radio options but also sets the time automatically by getting it from the web. Able to access wi-fi directly or through a standard ethernet (cat-5) connection, the R227 can operate without the need for an actual computer, a plus for those who are on the other side of the digital divide. If you are using secured wi-fi, it is even set up with an easy entry keypad for typing in your password.

Tom Van Voy describes it in the press release:

“Most internet users are familiar with internet radio, but many find it difficult and time consuming to locate stations or podcasts using their computers,” said Tom Van Voy, Marketing Vice President of SANYO’s Consumer Products Division. “The SANYO Internet Radio is a convenient, standalone product designed to make it easy to enjoy sports, music, and talk internet radio stations from all over the world without being tethered to a computer.” The R227 is easily portable throughout the household, and can be enjoyed in the kitchen, bedroom, living room or garage – virtually anywhere there’s a WiFi or Ethernet connection. As convenient as a traditional radio, a simple “On/Off” button provides instantaneous access to thousands of internet radio stations. Loaded with functionality, including wake-to-internet or FM radio, the R227 boasts excellent stereo audio with dual speakers.

The unit is supposed to debut in the U.S. in January at an MSRP of $169.99. Not much at all for a unit that can access and play MP3, WMA, AAC, AIFF, RM and WAV formats both from online streamed content and from audio files on one’s computer. In addition it has one nice little perk for talk radio fans: when AM reception is poor, it switches to the online stream for that station in order to provide clearer audio.

All in all, it looks like Sanyo has packed a lot into this 8″x5″x4″ radio.

Photo courtesy of Sanyo


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