Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio has opened for business in Australia and New Zealand – its first expansion move outside the United States.
The Internet radio service launched Down Under in beta this week at www.iheartradio.com.au, ahead of a full roll-out this September to coincide with the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas.
The affiliate is run through the Australian Radio Network, a joint venture between Clear Channel and APN News & Media. It’s helmed by Kate Beddoe, managing director of iHeartRadio Australia and ARN Digital, and is based at ARN’s Sydney HQ.
“The ultimate goal is to make this a mainstream digital product,” Beddoe tells Billboard.biz.
The product will be pushed through its partner stations and Web properties and will enjoy an outdoor billboard marketing blitz. “We want to make it something that all Australians, regardless of how technologically savvy you are, if you like music and you have an affinity for music to be the soundtrack in your life, we want this to be your go-to service,” Beddoe adds.
iHeartRadio arrives at peak-hour for digital music arrivals. All the major streaming music players have arrived here in recent years, and a handful of local start-ups have also entered the mix. The action hasn’t slowed of late. iHeartRadio’s main U.S. rival Pandora arrived in Australia at the end of 2012, and Google Play Music’s subscription service “All Access” launched just last month in Australia and New Zealand.
Sources say at least 30 digital music services now operate Down Under, and some suspect it’s becoming a cluttered marketplace.
Still, digital sales are on the up – rising more than 30% each of the last two years, according to data supplied by labels body ARIA.
“Like most digital music services, we set ourselves a benchmark of having an audience of a million in the first 12 months,” adds Beddoe. “And I think with the power we’ll be able to put behind it with on-air marketing that is highly achievable.”
ARN reaches more than four million listeners and its station Websites claim some 400,000 monthly users.
At the commercial launch proper, iHeartRadio’s Australasian offerings will feature the 850 U.S. radio and some 50 stations from Down Under, which will include the channels from ARN’s Mix FM and Classic Hits music streams. An app for Android and iOS will also drop in September.
iHeartRadio recently surpassed 30 million registered users in the U.S. where it boasts 60 million monthly users.