In car listening is going to drive significant growth in Internet radio listening.  In car listening to terrestrial radio represents the largest percentage of total listening and I believe the same will be true for Internet radio.  Internet radio in-car listening is already occurring by connecting your mobile phone in various ways to your car’s stereo/entertainment system.  I have always thought that it would be the phone that ends up being the device that serves as the conduit for in-car Internet radio listening.  No one wants to set up yet another interface for listening and smart phones have now become practically ubiquitous.  The collection of wires, adapters, bluetooth devices all deal with what is termed the auto after market (making a system work given what is already installed in your car).

One of the companies focused on in-car Internet radio listening is Livio Radio.  Livio has many systems for making in-car Internet radio listening a possibility.  The one I like the best is called “The Kit” which works with Blue Tooth.  You download the Livio Radio app (which has 45,000 internet radio stations) and plug the nice looking compact device into your 12 volt lighter port.  Via bluetooth the Livio phone app starts and your choice of Internet radio station plays via your car speakers.   This approach works for the auto aftermarket but I would rather not have to insert the Livio device into the lighter port.  The after market solutions will continue to be utilized for several years given the millions of vehicles already on the road today.

Only major Internet radio brands such as Pandora will be able to integrate with car manufacturers so that they are built in.  There is a multi-year lead time and Pandora has been working on car company integration for some time.  Car companies will not deal with a multitude of Internet radio providers. However, Livio Radio will make it possible for all Internet radio brands to participate.  Livio has developed  an API  (think interface) that allows this seamless integration between internet radio stations and a cars entertainment system.  The ease of use which terrestrial radio has had in the car for decades has to be present for large scale consumer adoption.

Terrestrial radio has a hard time understanding that in the end the consumer will decide what, where and how they would like to consume audio content.  I believe consumers want Internet radio in their cars.

What Pandora Contrarians Don’t Understand

There are many who doubt Pandora’s ability to become a profitable entity like this article that appeared in Inside Radio on 6/9/11.  While it is true that music royalty costs will increase the larger Pandora’s audience grows, what is not understood is Pandora’s ability to generate revenue even given its existing audience.  Pandora had an AAS in the March 2011 Webcast Metrics 2011 Top 20 Ranker (Monday- Sunday 6 AM- Midnight) of 498,135.  Assuming Pandora ran 13 units per hour like terrestrial radio would result in gross revenue of $567,276,4138 (assuming a $10.00 CPM) compared to that reported for the 12 months ending January 31, 2001 of $119,333,000.  While I have assumed the same audience for 24 hours of the day and a $10.00 CPM what I have not taken into account is Pandora’s ability to generate revenue from video preroll advertising and display (both of which it is currently doing).  I would also argue that with Pandora’s ability to target ads CPM’s will be higher than the $10.00 I have assumed.  Consequently just from in-stream advertising the potential revenue is almost 5X that of what Pandora has recently reported.  Assuming a 20% sales cost would result in income  from operations of $334,000,000 rather than the slight loss actually incurred.  Pandora’s business model is not a suicide pact but one that is waiting to blossom and bear the fruit from many years of labor understanding what it’s customers/listeners want.


Angel Street Capital recently completed an investment in AirKast, Inc.’s Series A Preferred Stock offering.  AirKast develops mobile applications which run on its AirBridge platform.  One of the industry verticals it has targeted includes Internet radio.  AirKast clients include many of the leading radio companies.  The company’s TuneKast offering allows stations to stream their content as part of its application.  Clients include ESPN, Radio Disney, Citadel Broadcasting, Salem Communications and many more.  Members of Angel Street Capital have previously invested in earlier AirKast funding rounds.  The company is growing rapidly and is well positioned to take advantage of the explosive growth occurring in mobile.