Music store integration was piloted in May.
Following the rollout of iTunes Music Stores onto the Web sites of two of its premiere radio properties, Emmis Communications has revealed the integration of the popular downloading service onto all of its station sites.
The customized online music stores will reflect the programming of each radio station, allowing listeners to shop from playlists of station artists as well as top picks from on-air talent and celebrity guests.
iTunes songs are now available on modern rock WKQX Chicago (Q101.com) and top 40 WNOU Indianapolis (radionow931.com). Modern rock KROX (101 X) and rhythmic top KDHT (Hot 93.3) Austin, Texas, and modern KPNT (15.7 the Point) St. Louis will follow, with the remaining 15 FM outlets joining in about a month, according to Emmis.
“We approached Apple with the idea, and we developed the back-end technology to make this possible,” said Rey Mena, VP of Emmis Interactive. “Many Web sites link to iTunes, but we’re the first to pull iTunes’ entire 2.5 million-song catalog into our sites, weaving station programming with the Apple platform.”
Mena told Billboard.biz that the goal is “to curate in a manner that is relevant to our audience, while giving the user all the ease of use and flexibility of iTunes.” For example, iTunes peddles repertoire from 540 hip-hop artists. The WQHT and KPWR stores offer artist catalog only from the roughly 200 artists they play.
In-studio and station-festival performances are on the drawing board at Emmis as well, along with exclusive artist remixes of tracks.
Emmis will receive a portion of all iTunes sales made through its Web sites. Individual stations will promote the new feature through on-air spots and listener clubs.
“Radio has always been a promoter of music, but now our radio stations are also a point of purchase,” said Rick Cummings, president of Emmis Radio. “This could take the industry in a new direction.”
Emmis piloted the Music Store integration in May at R&B/hip-hop WQHT (Hot 97) New York and similarly formatted KPWR (Power 106) New York.
While Emmis is the first broadcaster to strike an affiliate deal with Apple, scores of stations owned by Greater Media, Citadel Communications, Bonneville International, ABC Radio, Clear Channel, Beasley Broadcasting and others have been selling Windows Media downloads from individually branded online stores developed by New York-based Music to Go. XM Satellite Radio has partnered with Napster to sell music downloads, and future models of high-definition radio receivers are expected to include a “buy” button.