Online radio service TuneIn has announced partnerships with more than 20 major broadcasting companies that will add 600 stations to its existing directory of over 50,000 AM/FM and Internet-only broadcasts.
The deal includes top talk brands Fox News Radio, Bloomberg Radio and Public Radio Exchange as well as London-based news station Monocle 24. Music channels will be added through partnership with GoRadio.com, Laut.fm from Germany and AccuRadio, among others.
Recent media attention has been focused on the activities of some of TuneIn's competitors. On Tuesday, Spotify launched an iOS app with free, personalized radio. Two weeks ago, playlist-based Songza launched an iPad app that got 1.15 million downloads in just ten days. Both developments were routinely reported as threats to the dominant market position of Pandora Media.
TuneIn would be forgiven if it waved its hands and yelled, "Hey, don't forget about us." The Palo Alto-based, Sequoia Capital-backed company tells Billboard.biz its monthly active users have grown 113% to over 30 million in the last 12 months. Daily listener hours have grown 215% during that time. Those are the kinds of numbers that normally send Pandora Media shares down a few percentage points.
TuneIn does not offer the same type of personalized service as Pandora, iHeartRadio, Slacker and, to an extent, Songza. TuneIn stations broadcast without being interactive. A listener cannot build a personalized station based on liked and disliked songs or artists. The broadcasts are supplied to TuneIn through Partnerships. TuneIn's job is to aggregate those broadcasts and help people find what they're interested in hearing.
Although it functions differently than Pandora, CEO John Donham sees advantages in having an open platform with tens of thousands of broadcasts to choose from. He believes people continue to like the communal element of live radio. And although his competitors get more credit for making music discovery easy, Donham says live radio is the easiest form of music discovery. Humans already have gone through the effort of creation. TuneIn simply lets people listen. "You shouldn't have to do any work to enjoy your music," Donham tells Billboard.biz.
The service has been built to encourage music discovery within its particular framework. The service offers a list of local and genre-specific broadcasts that can be saved to presets in much the same way a car stereo has preset buttons. If you want to hear a jazz station that plays Miles Davis, for example, the listener will click a thumbnail image of Davis and be taken to a list of jazz stations that are likely to play the trumpeter's music.
Listeners seem to like it. The TuneIn app is routinely among the top free music apps for iOS and Android. Today it stands at #10 at the iTunes App Store and #8 on the Google Play store in the free music app categories. Consumers give each version a four-and-a-half-star rating and have many positive things to say about the well-designed, easy-to-use apps.