Former Vice President of the United States, Dan Quayle once said, “The future will be better tomorrow.” Is there a chance that CES 2011 made sense of this idiom?

You want the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in one sentence?  3D TVs, every iPad accessory you can think of and competing tablet computers.  There, I just saved you a trip to Vegas.

Think you’ll never want a 3D TV or an iPad?  You’re wrong, trust me on this.  Sony, LG and a few other minor players are going to make you want 3D so bad you’ll buy personalized eye-wear just for the experience.  And as far as juice for the iPadophiles—  I cover that after this next thing.

What’s above is for the general public.  But, for us in the music space I saw just one significant piece of new technology. Granted, I only got to cover 200,000 of the 1,000,000 square foot show, so I’m sure I missed a few cool production gizmos.  But, I’m not impressed anymore by all the studio toys.  Show me a new way to sell millions of records and then I’ll get a woody.

And one exhibit did-  HD Radio.

The new in-car HD Radios make it possible to “tag” a song you hear broadcasted while driving.  You can then dock your iThing, transfer this info and when you get home, and buy the songs you heard while sitting in traffic.  This is the closest we’ve ever come to hear-n-buy technology in cars, where people are exposed to a vast majority of their new music.

I spoke to their head rep about going to the next obvious step, putting, a “buy” button right on the dashboard, thus, bypassing the need to transfer data and then purchase at a later time. I was a little shocked at what he told me, “The RIAA was not really happy when we suggested it.”

I can only guess that this was because it creates tags for iTunes only and the majors would probably want something that allowed a sale directly from their own store– if they had one.  Creating an in-car device that connects to many stores, Amazon, Yahoo, AOL, etc would be more palatable but would be too hard to manage at this time.  So, instead, for now, we have a lame, but innovative iTunes “tagging” system. which creates almost as many barriers to sales as it eliminates.

If the rep’s comment is true about the RIAA, then the majors could be getting in the way of their own success by being too picky and blinded by their disdain of iTunes.  However, I believe that the truth is a bit more complicated:  as with the internet, which was unproven as a platform in 1999 when majors were hesitant to trust ISPs, so too is HD Radio. It still faces some FCC approval issues.  Bandwidth will not be freed up until HD Radio can prove they have a viable market.

Still, this new development is a big step in the right direction of creating an amazing sales platform and it’s the hope that we are only a few years way from the hear it in the car and own it within an hour model that we used to enjoy. You remember: when record stores were in every mall and before the internet made us go home, boot up our computer and launch software just to buy a new song.

What do you think of this?  Click below to post a comment.


  1. Phil Johnson says:

    The thing is, will HD radio hit their tipping point before the streaming services are entrenched in the same car. MOG and Pandora will both be in the drivers seat with us. And I think most people are finding their new music through similar services. I’ve yet to hear anyone say “I just heard this killer song on HD radio!”

  2. Rudes McGann says:

    hey Moses….why spend money for an HD radio when you can tag the song with shazaam, and then download it with Tunee? check them both out on android platform. They will ring the death knell for record sales-and artists are already hip to the game, making money on tour is the wave of the future….

    We have to chat sometime, the technology on these phones is absolutely amazing.

    The poor election lawyer that still aspires to be a honcho with more jewelry than a wedding ring!!!! lol (not really on the bling factor, but I do aspire to get into music still….)

    Rudes “gannsberg” McGann

  3. martin thomas says:

    Thanks, Moses, it feels good to have you looking out, asking the questions and then reporting back to us. I do feel like I save a little airfare.

  4. Happy 2011 !!!

    As a recording artist, I am happily selling my products through whatever channels make this happen. Since the major labels are essentially a partner of the artist, and sharing in the profits generated by the sales of the artist’s music, who cares what the distribution channel is. As long as there is accurate accounting, and the artist, label, and distribution channel profit, that is as it should be. The easier it is for fans to buy the music, the better it is for everyone in the music economy.

    Thank you!

    Aaron Wolfson



  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Adrian Fusiarski, mpressmeredith. mpressmeredith said: HD radio still exists? http://bit.ly/fNTad4 […]

  6. We need for people to be able to impulse buy music just like they pick up a candybar in line at the grocery store.

    This is for everyone who ever sat in their driveway waiting for a song to finish and then the dj didn’t say a damn thing!

  7. Don Coyer says:

    I was just going to say the same thing about impulse buys. There’s a reason supermarkets and other stores have all of that junk in the checkout lines. They KNOW impulse buys work, and they put some effort into putting things where people can pick them up while they’re bored and waiting in line.
    What works for one type of store will work for another. I know that everyone has to wait in traffic jams, maybe several times a week. It’s one of the most boring things there is. If people can “shop” for music while sitting in traffic, we’ve got a captive buying public.
    The lables need to use their heads about this.

  8. Forgotteng says:

    It still doesn’t change the fact that radio sucks. Any song that would be played on the majority of radio stations out there you would be punished with in a weeks worth of listening to said radio station.

  9. Peter Jensen says:

    Soundhound already allows hear&buy even over the din of a restaurant. What’s needed is a Bluetooth appliance that makes the process hands free when driving. Such rats will disintermediate the standards bearing dinosaurs.

  10. Sara says:

    You have to wonder don’t you .. with all this tagging and maybe one day buying: will we have the brain space to concentrate on the actual driving?

  11. Molly says:

    Glad to hear from you and as usual, your article requires deep thinking, not an off the cuff answer.
    First reaction: HD radio’s a great new concept. Advise artist friends to get behind it and start prepping for any changes to be ready when it hits.
    Deep response: Where are the fans of the artists I know and love FINDING these new artists? Not on standard radio stations…. They’re finding them online, buying and downloading to discs that are easily played in a vehicle. Other options are to use your laptop as a media player in your car, a PMP (portable media player), and of course our digital hand extension, the cell phone. Most cell phones have become very sophisticated in media streaming your favorite artists, not some radio DJ’s ‘hit list’.
    Even as old as I am, I can’t name more than a few radio stations’ call letters anymore, much less the popular artists being played. Why would I need to listen to a plain old radio station when all my favorite artists are already on my favorite portable media device, whatever it is?
    Missed ya, Moses

  12. Don Coyer says:

    I’d like to see some figures that support all of these people that proclaim that touring is the “wave of the future” for making your money as a musician. NO, IT IS NOT. I’ve been a touring musician all my life, and I am familiar with the cost of putting on small tours and I’m not stupid about the staggering costs of putting on large tours. TOURS ARE TO SUPPORT AND INCREASE RECORD SALES. Get it through your heads.
    I have a friend who books major bands/musicians in the Atlanta area, and he told me some inside figures that are pretty scary. NOBODY is making money touring, hardly anyone is packing large venues, etc. The club scene is all but dead for live music (DUI laws and greedy cops/judges, and you have bands that will play for almost free. (Which is why most of them suck)
    We’re back to the weekend warrior scene where people that have a decent job are out there muddying up the scene taking gigs because they can afford to undercut people who have dedicated their lives to being musicians. And those guys are usually amateurs.
    If you think about it, what were the things that boosted the music industry to it’s great heights? When you had a band like The Beatles come out….and if they hadn’t been selling records, they wouldn’t have been touring, I can assure you of that. One thing supports another, and neither exists alone. But this great explosion of, not COPYCAT music, but originality, combined with great live shows and record sales, is what created the scene we’ve now lost.
    For once, I’d love to see the people who keep buying into this crap that live touring is where the money is…I’d like to see them try it. Maybe they don’t mind eating out of dumpsters, I don’t know.

  13. Steven Marks says:


    > I wanted to clarify something about HD Radio “buy buttons.” RIAA and our members are very supportive of “buy buttons.” Indeed, for many years we’ve encouraged broadcasters and their partners, including iBiquity, to develop a consumer-friendly buy button. After all, what could be a better way to capture an impulse buy than the ability to tag a song for purchase?
    > Thought it was important to let you know. Hope you’ll reflect it going forward. Also happy to chat with you about it.
    > By the way, here is a RIAA blog posting about music in the car: http://www.riaa.com/blog.php?content_selector=CES_ROCKS.
    > Speak to you soon.
    > Steve

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