The reinvented iHeartRadio is now available in beta, open only to those who have “liked” its parent Clear Channel Radio on Facebook. The free service combines more than 800 live, professional radio stations with stations that are custom created on the fly to suit each listener.
Pandora, Spotify and other custom music should keep on their toes. Clear Channel said its library of available songs is ten times larger than Pandora’s, with 11 million songs and 400,000 artists. Also, there have already been 34 million downloads of the original iHeartRadio that collectively account for 50 million listening hours a month. That’s a sizable number of existing users who are already familiar with the brand and its interface, and who already know it can be played on computers as well as on mobile devices.
For comparison, however, Pandora reports having more users – 100 million registered users and 36 million monthly active users – who use it more often, at 600 million listening hours a month. Spotify, meanwhile, reports having an impressive 15 million songs in its catalog. But neither has Clear Channel’s sheer market clout.
Clear Channel’s beta will reach beyond Facebook on Sept. 14. Custom stations will be commercial-free until the end of the year, and there is no cap on the number of listening hours. The New iHeartRadio became available online and for Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch on Monday, with Android and other platforms coming soon.
Clear Channel said that New iHeartRadio’s music intelligence is also the best in class, since it combines the company’s own extensive music research and the expertise of its radio programmers with sophisticated technology from Echo Nest and others. The company also said the product offers better controls and deeper social integration than existing services.
“With the New iHeartRadio, we took something that was already amazing and made it even better,” said Bob Pittman, chairman of media and entertainment platforms for Clear Channel. “The New iHeartRadio will reinvent the digital radio experience by offering the innovative features that listeners want the most – live real radio plus the ability to create Custom Stations, all in one integrated service.”
Clear Channel will release the official New iHeartRadio at the sold-out iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas on Sept. 23 and 24, hosted by Ryan Seacrest. Legendary guitarist Jeff Beck has just been added to the lineup, and will join Steven Tyler in a special performance on the second night.
Other previously announced performers include Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, Coldplay, Kenny Chesney, The Black Eyed Peas, Steven Tyler, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez, Carrie Underwood, Jane’s Addiction, Nicki Minaj, John Mayer, David Guetta, Rascal Flatts, Bruno Mars, Sublime with Rome, Kelly Clarkson and special performances from Usher and Sting. The iHeartRadio Music Festival will be carried live on Clear Channel Radio stations in over 150 markets, as well as being streamed across all of Clear Channel’s radio station websites,on iHeartRadio’s website, and on iHeartRadio’s Facebook page. That’s a lot of marketing power pushing the new service to a giant audience of music fans.