Radio streaming service TuneIn has announced Seattle institution Sub Pop as its first label station. Launched last week and already at 3,500 followers, the station features Sub Pop's extensive back catalog and current releases for shows like Sub Pop Rock City ("the harder side of Sub Pop"), Behind The Garage ("lesser-known gems"), and Subterranean Pop ("what popular music will sound like when Sub Pop takes over"); beginners' guides playlists; and artist-specific programming from label stalwarts Shabazz Palaces, Luluc, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, and clipping., which include commentary or interviews about how the record was made.
According to Siobhan Murphy, TuneIn's public relations manager, the Sub Pop partnership -- besides being "an additional medium to let people know about their newer or older artists" -- follows the company's "main goal to be the number-one place for all audio from all over the world." Right now, TuneIn counts 100,000 stations, 4 million podcasts, and 50 million monthly users that listen to the service an average of 90 minutes a day. Its on-demand streamed content providers include NPR, CNN, and the Weather Channel, among others. TuneIn also features artist-based stations like Kenny Chesney's No Shoes Radio, Wu Tang's Wu World Radio, and the official Avicii podcast LE7ELS, in addition to artist pages for the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Maroon 5, and Rihanna, which direct the listener to global radio stations that play them.
In contrast to other online radio services like Songza or Pandora, TuneIn aims for more of a social networking platform on par with Twitter or Facebook, showing listeners a feed of which users and what broadcasters they follow. In an interview with FastCompany a few months ago, company CEO John Donham said, "What we came to realize was that the way the web works today is lot more like a network model, so instead of having to search and browse for things, you build a list of content that you associate yourself with." That includes, in somewhat of a contrast to the premium TuneIn places on live DJs, a learning algorithm to match listeners with pertinent content.
According to CrunchBase, the Palo Alto-based company's funding value stands at $50.2 million. TuneIn raised $25 million last year in a round of funding that also coincided with evidence of internet radio's growing consumer appeal. In the first quarter of 2013, self-reported time spent listening to online radio was about 12 hours, almost double the six hours, 13 minutes five years earlier, according to Arbitron. During that time span, the percentage of listeners 12 and older that listen to online radio weekly more than doubled to 33% from 13%. Though Murphy says TuneIn has no plans to partner with other record labels, with such rapidly growing numbers on both sides of the (virtual) dial, it may be only a matter of time.