So much for relying on your FM dial and antenna's reception. Today, NPR launched the NPR Music app for the iPad, a new platform that gives listeners access to streaming content, first-listen albums, and live concerts. Oh, and hear this Spotify: The (free) app also features the ability to cache playlists for offline listening.
The NPR Music app represents yet another push for the public radio station into the digital sphere.
With 26 million listeners, NPR has actually seen its radio presence increase, according to NPR Music's Anya Grundmann, but that hasn't stopped them from recognizing where the future of radio is—on mobile devices, smartphones, and tablets.
"We would be crazy not to be thinking about what happens if [radio] were to decline," she says. "People in their early 20s don't usually own radios. Our core competency at NPR is audio—and that can transform to multiple platforms."
Not only will the platform help to reach new generations of listeners, but it's a medium that better shows off the network's extensive and exclusive content, such as advanced access to albums from the Roots and Wilco—today's release, for example, will come bolstered by a live performance from the Shins. It's part of NPR's larger digital strategy to move beyond broadcast, as it's done as an early adopter of podcasting, through award-winning apps for Android, iOS, and even Chrome OS, and now through new digital verticals like NPR News and NPR Music.
"Every media organization—every orgainzation that is a legacy institution—is thinking about how to remain relevant and how the work they're doing is going to resonate in the future," Grundmann says. "We want to hold ourselves to the standard of being innovators in this space. If you ignore these things, it's at your peril."
We've been playing with the radio station's latest iPad app for a few days now, and with the exception of a bug here and there, NPR Music is a very slick app with great content and a streamlined design. Users gain access to live streams from 100 public radio stations; editorial content that includes music news, interviews, and reviews; custom playlists that can be downloaded; and tools to discover and purchase featured music (it can even scan your iTunes library to make personalized music recommendations).
Grundmann says the iPad app was homegrown as part of a larger attempt to engage more listeners. "We've brought the development of this app in-house; for the first time, it was fully designed, conceived, and developed in-house," she says.
The app is in the iTunes store right now.
[Image: Flickr user Scorch07]