New Details on Apple's Negotiations With iHeartMedia Surface
Earlier this month, Financial Times reported that Apple had held talks with U.S. radio company iHeartMedia regarding the possibility of Apple taking a financial stake in the struggling radio company that filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Despite its financial troubles, iHeartMedia remains the largest radio station owner in the country with over 850 AM and FM stations.
Financial Times has followed up with a new report today outlining some additional details on the negotiations between Apple and iHeartMedia, and while no deal has been struck, it appears Apple is considering several options that would help it leverage iHeartMedia's expertise in terrestrial radio and promote Apple Music and Beats 1 to millions of potential customers.
According to people familiar with the negotiations, Apple has considered buying a stake in the radio group, as well as signing a marketing or promotional partnership.
Another option under consideration is for Apple to acquire iHeartRadio’s streaming platform, which would be a relatively cheap way to reach the service’s 120m registered users.
One unnamed music executive quoted in the story notes that the millions of radio listeners around the world will "inevitably migrate" to online options over time, and Apple undoubtedly would love to make Apple Music the destination for those users as it continues to compete with the likes of Spotify.
The report also notes that Apple Music's user base has grown to 56 million subscribers, up from 50 million as of May. While the increase has pushed Apple past Spotify to become the largest music streaming service in the U.S., Spotify is still growing at a faster pace globally, adding 12 million users over the past six months to reach a total of 87 million subscribers.
Top Rated Comments
It has been bad for employees, because iHeart consolidated stations into their iHeart-centralized groups and slashed payroll. However, automation has been doing that, and the FCC has been appropriately deregulating radio to compensate for changing technology.
It has been REAL BAD FOR CULTURE! This McMUSIC culture due to homogenized radio and centralized control of music culture has resulted in the dullest of the dullest musical scene since 755 A.D. when Vlad had to miss the lute-playing traveling bard to take a dump outside the communal hut in the mud lands of Eastern Europe. iHeart (among a couple others) has tightly controlled sales and charts through centralization of radio programming.
In the old days (heydays of the 50s-70s), radio and sales were dictated by the people listening and buying. The record companies and radio stations offered up grassroots creativity and would promote what stuck to the masses listening and purchasing. Manufactured groups and talents were in the mix as well, but anyone could make a go of the system. Nowadays, the average Joe in Podunksville, AL can’t get airplay locally because it is controlled by a centralized corporation way-way over the hills. Mom and Pop sold out/were bought out by the “big boys”.
The radio industry had grown stale in the 80s-90s, anyway. It is like the stepchild of the entertainment industry where lots of ego combines with a lack of talent to create a boring mess. Ultimately, radio stations are mostly audio billboards…. But who is listening?
According to studies, 90% of Americans tune into AM/FM radio every week in their cars! 90%!! It’s huge. However, radio doesn’t have the cultural import it had when it promoted a fresh and lively bevy of creativity, so it is mostly relegated to “filling space” in commuters’ lives. That’s still a fairly good billboard! And that is why it is still relevant.
But why listen? They play the same 10 songs, all bland “chart toppers” written by the same 10-20 folks, all sounding like the same stuff since the late 90s-onward. They cram too many commercials in. The “talent” speaks in funny voices and says puerile quips or snarky aphorisms, etc. And half of the stations/formats sound identical today: ACH sounds like AC sounds like Top-40 sounds like Urban. Even country now sounds like Lite AC.
The future of terrestrial radio isn’t death. It isn’t McRadio, because that is a heartless and failing venture, and it isn’t online. Online is as distant and heartless as iHeart(less) radio and satellite radio. What people are gravitating to more than anything else is information and exploration. They turn to radio in hopes of hearing new music and experiences or information they didn’t get elsewhere. Your playlists on an iPod get stale—quick. The looping XM radio stations feel uncared for and lacking personality or fresh info. They fill no particular niche outside of a musical format. Online radio isn’t much better, and it can be too indulgent for the owner/operators and too difficult to find for the average Joe.
Localization of radio, talking to locals, infoming locals, curating locals along with semi-locals along with nationals and regional talents, will keep it fresh and alive. Apple isn’t going to do that. No major corporation will do that. It will be “normal” people, local folk, picking up the pieces of the radio industry that is crumbing that will make it work again as it worked in the past when it was an actual business instead of an investment scheme for titans and social programmers.
Anyone that follows news about the broadcast industry knows just how bad this company has been for radio stations across the United States.
There's a heart.
There're radio waves being transmitted from the "i" shaped antenna.