Clear Channel-owned Internet radio service iHeartRadio is announcing today that it has grown to 50 million registered users.
The service allows users to listen to live radio broadcasts, so in some ways it’s traditional radio’s attempt to repackage itself for new devices and platforms. Brian Lakamp, Clear Channel’s president of digital, said that since the current iHeartRadio service is only 2.5 years old (having relaunched in September 2011), the 50 million number puts it at a faster growth rate than Facebook or Twitter.
As another point of comparison, Spotify recently said that it has 40 million active users, with 10 million of paying subscribers.
iHeartRadio is only sharing registered users (I asked about active users and engagement, but Clear Channel isn’t revealing that number). The company does note that users can listen to live radio without creating an account (registration is only necessary when you want to create a custom station), and that the app has seen a total of 345 million downloads, so its reach could be considerably larger than 50 million.
Asked about iHeartRadio’s role in the broader Internet radio landscape, Lakamp argued that services like Spotify are a replacement for your private music collection, not for live radio, which he described as a “lean forward experience” that’s more about connecting with famous personalities and finding out what everyone else is listening to. iHeartRadio’s growth, he said, is evidence that there’s still an appetite for a more radio-like experience.
The next step for the product, he added, is simplification, so that its various capabilities are more obvious to users. It seems that the app took a step in that direction yesterday with a redesign and faster recommendations.
iHeartRadio’s user base is up 20 percent from the 40 million registered users it reported in November.