Clear Channel Communications is turning to the electronic dance music craze to help build its online brand, iHeartRadio, with a new channel featuring Pete Tong, the British D.J. and radio personality who has been one of the genre’s biggest taste makers for two decades.

The channel, called Evolution, will start on Monday, joining iHeartRadio’s hundreds of online stations. Its first week will be loosely structured, with Mr. Tong playing music and inviting guests. The full, around-the-clock programming schedule begins Nov. 19, with “All Gone Pete Tong,” a two-hour live show from Mr. Tong each weeknight; shows by star dance D.J.’s like Diplo, Wolfgang Gartner and Fatboy Slim; and a rundown of the Top 100 hits on Beatport, the leading digital retailer for electronic dance music (or E.D.M., the catch-all name that the genre’s leaders have grudgingly begun to accept).

“There’s been a huge rise in the popularity of dance music in America, but it’s been quite polarized on the commercial end of it, the top 4 or 5 percent,” Mr. Tong said in an interview. “I think there’s so much more to the genre, and that’s what Evolution is going to be about: broadening that base, providing the platform for the other 95 percent.”

“We knew that we needed to have that kind of credibility in anything we created,” said Tom Poleman, Clear Channel’s president of national programming platforms. Evolution will join several other E.D.M. outlets on iHeartRadio, like Electric Sound Stage and Trancid, that are so-called “playlist stations” — music only, with little or no human presence.

Evolution, particularly with the involvement of Mr. Tong, will be a challenge of sorts to Sirius XM Radio, which was early in recognizing the mainstream appeal of dance music. Sirius has four E.D.M. channels and features dozens of top D.J.’s, like Tiesto, Skrillex, Paul Oakenfold and A-Trak.

Streaming Music Keeps Growing: The popularity of all kinds of streaming services continues to grow, challenging “traditional” listening formats like CDs and downloads, according to a new study by the NPD Group, a market research firm.

In a report released Thursday, NPD said that half of Internet users in the United States, or around 96 million people, have listened to an Internet radio or on-demand streaming music service in the last three months. This encompasses a wide array of outlets, both paid and free. Of all Internet users, NPD said, 37 percent had listened to an Internet radio service like Pandora or iHeartRadio, and 36 percent had listened to music through so-called on-demand services — ranging from video sites like YouTube and Vevo to subscription services like Spotify and Rhapsody.

Based on a survey completed by 4,000 people, NPD reported that the number of people who said they listened to music on CDs dropped 16 percent; the music audience for AM/FM radio dropped 4 percent; and the number of people listening to digital downloads fell 2 percent.

“Although AM/FM radio remains America’s favorite music-listening choice, the basket of Internet radio and streaming services that are available today have, on the whole, replaced CDs for second place,” Russ Crupnick, an NPD analyst, said in a statement. “We expect this pattern to continue, as consumers become more comfortable with ownership defined as a playlist, rather than as a physical CD or digital file.”

Sony Digital Executive Resigns: Tim Schaaff, the president of Sony Network Entertainment, its division for video games and online music and video, will leave at the end of the year, the company announced.

Mr. Schaaff, who came to Sony from Apple in 2005, has been in charge of its slow-going efforts to compete in streaming media.

Its Music Unlimited service, for example, introduced two years ago as Qriocity, offers access to millions of songs through Sony entertainment devices and most mobile phones, but by the beginning of the year it had only one million users. Spotify, by comparison, announced this summer that it has 15 million users, four million of them paying subscribers.

[via NYT]

Drew Pierce

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