ARN CEO talks iHeartRadio
Last week ARN officially launched Clear Channel’s digital radio service in Australia.
The service is in beta in Australia, and only available on the web until September, when the full service, including mobile, will launch in Australia and New Zealand.
Since its launch in 2011 at the inaugural iHeartRadio Music Festival, iHeartRadio is now a leading digital radio service in the US.
Daryl Missen spoke with ARN CEO Ciaran Davis about this new player in the Australian landscape.
Daryl: How will ARN launch iHeartRadio to Australia?
Ciaran: ARN is launching iHeartRadio into Australia in a two stage process which beings with the web-only beta which is now available at iHeartRadio.com.au. In September we will add the mobile apps. We are also using the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas to launch the services, with promotions to attend the festival running on-air and in trade.
Daryl: What makes iHeartRadio different to the other players in this space?
Ciaran: The point of difference for iHeartRadio is that it has radio at its heart. We have seen Clear Channel double digital listening to their stations within 12 months on iHeartRadio, so it is reinforcing our core offering and adding new audience as well, through custom radio and ‘Perfect For’.
iHeartRadio is also completely free and unlimited to users on any device.
Daryl: In your opinion, how will iHeartRadio enhance ARN’s offering to the marketplace?
Ciaran: iHeartRadio offers us the opportunity to lead radio into its next stage in this market by growing live listening, attracting a younger audience and offering more integrated, accountable solutions to advertisers.
Daryl: What is the plan in taking the ‘beta’ site and adding the 1500 other Clear Channel Radio streams?
Ciaran: In beta, you can stream ARN stations live and create custom stations and perfect for stations online. That allows us to start educating our own listeners about what iHeartRadio can do for them. In September, along with the mobile apps we will also have Clear Channel radio stations from the US and TRN stations from New Zealand, totally over 1,000 live radio stations.
Daryl: In regards to the joint ownership with Clear Channel, what other opportunities do you see moving forward between the two companies? [ARN + Clear Channel]
Ciaran: We’re excited to be working really closely with the Clear Channel team on the iHeartRadio product offering. The future roadmap is really exciting.
The most immediate and obvious benefit would be via association with their the world class events such as the iHeartRadio Music Festival; the Miami Pool Party and the Jingle Balls they host. From day one we will have exclusive access to all that content in Australia as well as listener opportunities to win VIP trips and back stage passes to all these events.
Daryl: Has ARN sales started talking to clients and broadening their offering to the market?
Ciaran: Absolutely. We have been talking to a shortlist of highly aligned clients from a brand and music perspective. Those conversations have been very positive and the breadth of what ARN can offer across on-air and online has impressed the market.
Daryl: The small amount of ‘profiling’ done at registration [age-postcode] will obviously help ARN communicate to advertisers however will the info gathered also help target content for listeners?
Ciaran: Yes. Over time as iHeartRadio gets a better understanding of each user and the music they like, the content experience for that user improves. As you thumb up and thumb down songs and create new stations, the algorithm that powers iHeartRadio is constantly learning and applying that to the songs it plays for you.
Daryl: Can you explain what a ‘Perfect For station’ is?
Ciaran: A ‘Perfect For’ station is a station that is perfect for any activity or mood. When you go onto the site and select ‘Perfect For’ you are given a shortlist of activities based on the time of day. Once you select the relevant activity, say ‘Going to the Gym’, you are then presented with a series of stations perfect for that activity. There are now over 850 perfect for stations on the platform so whether it is perfect for the gym, falling asleep, a road trip or virtually any activity there are stations for it.
Daryl: Do you envisage more ‘content’ needed to accommodate and enhance the existing offering? For example, un-edited interviews from artists that don’t make it to air during mainstream airtime … Audio acoustic specials that can only be accessed online?
Ciaran: Absolutely – the extra content sitting around the core music streams already differentiates iHeartRadio from some of the other services in market. That’s something ARN can offer Australian music fans, through our existing content teams and our access into the biggest names in music, that many competing services can’t deliver.
Daryl: As an audio pro I am very excited about the creative work opportunities, plus the future job opportunities for new audio people a service like iHeart can potentially offer. In your opinion, what internal professions will benefit and be most called upon to help build an offering of this magnitude?
Ciaran: iHeartRadio has radio at its heart and, as such, I believe there are opportunities for all radio skill sets to be challenged and do great work on iHeartRadio. Whether it is sales, content, marketing, imaging, production or whatever else, people from across our business are making incredible contributions to making iHeartRadio a success in Australia.
We intend to be the leading streaming service in Australia and will need the right people to help get us there. There will certainly be employment opportunities around iHeart as we launch and grow.
Daryl: In one word, gives us your view on iHeartRadio …
Ciaran: Can’t do it justice in one word. How about one phrase – Expect the Unexpected.