Clear Channel’s purchase of Thumbplay sends out a variety of messages to the radio industry. The cloud-based music subscription company may have cost Clear Channel somewhere in the range of $40 million dollars, and the apparent play is to integrate it with iheartradio and the company’s other assets.
So what’s the big deal? First, a deal of this magnitude speaks volumes about the price of admission for radio into the digital music/subscription space. Second, the deal is recognition that streaming music services are indeed a big deal. And third, an aggressive move like this sends a message to the radio industry that someone in a big position is finally taking Pandora seriously.
- “We need to get ahead of the curve and not behind it.” That statement may be the first of its kind by a radio executive, most of whom have had to play catch-up with digital. The purchase of Thumbplay and Pittman’s goal to lead rather than to follow is a significant statement.
- “This is step one.” You can interpret that one for yourself, but the statement is bold and holds a great deal of promise about Clear Channel’s intention to be an even bigger player in the digital area.
- “The acquisition of Thumbplay’s music business…(will) ensure that our listeners have the radio and music experience they want, on whatever device or platform they prefer.” Pittman sounds like a media exec, not a radio broadcaster. As we reported from CES in January, players as diverse as Jeff Bewkes (Time Warner) to Ivan Seidenberg (Verizon) were speaking from that same hymnal. In fact, Bewkes stated, “Watch what you want. Anywhere. Anytime.” Pittman’s on the bus.
Clear Channel is finally redefining what it means to be “big.” In the past, it was big based on sheer bulk – numbers of stations owned in many markets.
Today, “big” is being recast as leadership, vision, and bold moves.