Clear Channel boosts online presence

Pacts with Pandora

DENVER -- Following up on its erockster Internet radio initiative during Coachella, Clear Channel is expanding its online presence with new services -- including a personalized radio player, lyrics page, and widget strategy, among others.

Clear Channel is not yet providing many details about the new personalized radio feature, only that one is coming, but Billboard has learned it will be the Pandora service offered across all its Web properties nationwide.

Pandora allows users to build a custom playlist of sorts based off the characteristics of one song. The system recommends songs that sound similar to the one first chosen, based on a catalog of about 500,000 titles. Clear Channel suggested it will go live by the middle to end of the summer.

The partnership should prove a major boon to Pandora, which is struggling with how to remain operational under the weight of the new webcaster royalty rates. The exact details of the deal between the two parties have not yet been disclosed, and Clear Channel declined to comment on the specifics.

But adding such a feature is considered essential for Clear Channel to stay competitive in the online space. Competitor CBS Radio earlier this month unveiled plans for a similar custom DJ feature called Play.It, working in conjunction with sister company Both efforts show how terrestrial radio stations are responding to listeners' increasing demand for more control of their listening experience.

"Online, there is a lot of variety and choice," said Evan Harrison, Clear Channel executive vp and head of the company's online music and radio unit. "If we don't expand our offerings under our umbrella, people will just go elsewhere for it."

Clear Channel's earlier this month introduced its first nationwide-format Internet radio station in erockster. To date, Clear Channel's online presence has been that of local stations broadcasting in the Internet.

In other news, Clear Channel has added a lyrics service provided by Gracenote. Available immediately, the service adds a lyrics link to each song profile streamed online which takes the listener directly to a page providing the lyrics. Lyrics links also now appear on the home page of individual stations, artist pages and more, and will be promoted via on-air house ads from its many terrestrial stations.

Gracenote has compiled the myriad of publishing rights required to post the lyrics, and provides it as an outsourced service to other customers such as Yahoo Music.

Finally, Clear Channel is creating widgets of it member station Web sites allowing fans to stream the station from social networking profiles. Widget syndication firm Clearspring is providing the backend technology. The effort starts with widgets of the "Stripped" live performance series, and will eventually expand to incorporate streaming stations, erockster and other Clear Channel applications.