When he was promoted to President of Clear Channel Digital this month, Brian Lakamp, stepped into some very big shoes. The radio giant’s digital efforts had previously been steered by Bob Pittman, the legendary founder of MTV, who is now CEO of Clear Channel’s umbrella of corporate holdings. (Mr. Pittman’s associates also recently launched a seed stage fund for digital media.)
“We’ve got a big challenge in front of us, as streaming radio becomes the norm, and the social graph allows for personalization in a way that wasn’t possible a few years ago,” said Mr. Lakamp, speaking with Betabeat by phone. “Add to that the 750 local radio brands we work with, and you have a a massive opportunity.”
Mr. Lakamp will work closely with Mr. Pittman on digital strategy. Clear Channel just released its new iHeartRadio app, which allows users to live stream music from across the nation on their smartphone or tablet. “A huge part of enjoying music is discovery. What better way to do that then to see what your friends on the opposite coast are listening to, or spend an afternoon trying out what’s trending in a part of the country you’ve never been to.”
Unlike the record labels and music publishers, who are worried about the implications of Amazon and Google moving into the music streaming and storage business, Mr. Lakamp says Clear Channel sees the tech giant’s entry into the marketplace as a chance to work with big new partners. “We’re a discovery vehicle, helping them to reach consumers and drive the purchase of more songs.”
The iHeartRadio app is available for free, and without commercials, until the end of the year. Users can create profile pages, connect their Facebook friends, or just browse by city, state and genre. They can also create custom radio that mash up their favorite local stations. “It’s the ongoing evolution of terrestrial radio. It’s local, it’s national and its social, which is something the radio industry has in its DNA.”
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