iHeartRadio and Groove, Microsoft's audio app for Windows 10, believe they can make sweeter music together.
The online arm of the biggest terrestrial radio company in the US, iHeartRadio is the first outside service to be integrated into Groove and adds both live radio and custom stations.
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft is equipping itself to face down Apple on the music stage. Apple has been the powerhouse in digital tunes since the 2001 launch of both the iTunes digital audio and video service and the iPod digital media player. Along with this past summer's release of the Windows 10 operating system, Microsoft has coordinated moves to create a one-stop music home. The addition of iHeart's radio element gives consumers an alternative way to listen to their favorite tunes.
"It's a relatively small step to make, but an important step," said Greg Hohman, director of product marketing for the Windows Store. "It completes the picture."
Microsoft created Groove as the application that plays and manages your song files in Windows 10. As the company launched the OS in late July, it also released a music-buying section in its Windows store and rebranded its subscription music services as the $10-a-month Groove Music Pass.
Integrating iHeart means Groove offers radio too, in both the classic and digital sense of the word. Customers can listen to live radio broadcasts from stations, such as LA's KIIS FM and NY's Z1oo, that are owned by the service's parent, San Antonio-based iHeartMedia. Consumers can also create custom digital stations based on a favorite artist, similar to what Pandora does.
For iHeart, the partnership brings its online radio closer to consumers who have already been perking up their ears. Since the rollout of Windows 10, people using the OS have downloaded iHeart's own app four times more often than people using predecessor Windows 8, said Michele Laven, iHeart's president of business development and partnerships.
In addition to being the first outside service to join Groove, iHeart will also be the only integration of its kind. The companies said the partnership is exclusive, so iHeart won't integrate as deeply into any other app and Groove won't be bring on a partner similar to iHeart in the interest of keeping Groove's experience simple, Hohman said. The exclusivity will last one year, iHeart said.