Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Radio continues to try to be...relevant? Helpful?

And honestly, this may indeed help out.

Here's a story from Radio & Records:

Originally Posted On Sep 8, 2008 5:05 PM ET
Song Tagging Technology Comes To FM Radio

By Mike Stern

A group of nine broadcast companies have announced their commitment to providing electronic data that will enable consumers to tag songs they hear on FM radio for immediate purchase bringing the music discovery and purchase processes closer together than ever. The first device to make use of this data will be the Microsoft Zune as part of a new set of features for the MP3 player.

Stations operated by Beasley, Bonneville, CBS Radio, Citadel, Clear Channel Radio, Cox Radio, Emmis, Entercom and Greater Media will be broadcasting the song tags enabling consumers to purchase music heard on over 450 radio stations across the country at the outset with more rolling out soon.

The impetus to pursue this idea came from radio broadcasters. "We approached Microsoft about this," says executive vice president of distribution development for Clear Channel Radio Jeff Littlejohn who was deeply involved in the project. "But it didn't take much selling."
The technology uses song "tags," unique identifiers for each individual song that are encrypted and sent over an FM radio signal. Consumers with devices that can capture the identifier can either immediately purchase the song via digital download or save the information for purchase later. With the Microsoft’s Zune having an integrated FM tuner and wireless connectivity, the purchase can be essentially immediate if the user is in a Wi-Fi hot spot.

"It's a great way to make a simple radio really interactive," says Littlejohn. "Radio has been interactive through Web sites for a long time, but radio itself has not been interactive before. The idea of linking music discovery in just a couple of clicks to actual purchase is revolutionary."
A recent Microsoft study showed that 61% of respondents say radio is their primary source for discovering new music. “Radio is one of the primary ways people discover new music, which is why we have built an FM tuner into every Zune portable media player,” said Chris Stephenson, general manager of Global Marketing for Zune at Microsoft. “The leadership of these radio broadcasters has played an integral role in enabling millions of Zune users to tag and purchase songs directly from FM radio.”

While Microsoft will be the first to utilize the technology, it is not restricted. "This is able to be more than just Clear Channel, more than just HD Radio, more than just Apple or Microsoft," says Littlejohn. "It is a way for the entire industry to enable interactive music purchasing." He continues, "It can go beyond music as well. There are other things that could be tagged. It could also go beyond MP3 players. It's not a large leap to see FM radios starting to make their way into cell phones which are connected and would enable instant purchasing."
The technology, which uses RDS coding, is similar to that being used for HD Radio tagging which has been heavily promoted recently. The difference is in the wireless connectivity which allows FM tagging to be used without needing a cabled internet of any sort while HD tagging works with a docking station.

"From a radio broadcaster's standpoint this gives listeners a reason to come to my radio station and a reason to come back to my radio station," says Littlejohn. "It gives them an interactive feature they haven't previously had."

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