Tuesday, July 5, 2011

iNet Radio: AARP Launches 18 Free Music Channels

With constantly changing technology, and blogs that cover the latest indie bands minute-by-minute, online music is usually considered a young person’s game. But now the AARP, one of the biggest symbols of life in the gray years, is betting that a custom digital player on its Web site will rekindle its members’ love for discovering new music.

According to a story by Ben Sisario at nytimes.com, last month AARP quietly introduced a free Internet radio service (ad supported) for listeners 50 and older, with 18 channels programmed by the Concord Music Group, an independent record company that releases music by baby boomer stars like Paul Simon and Paul McCartney. [The player is from Slacker Radio.] The idea, according to Hugh Delehanty, editor in chief of AARP’s publications, is for the organization to act as a guide for millions of older listeners who are curious but may be intimidated by digital music.

“We’ve always been trying to reach this audience, because we know that boomers are so passionate about music,” Mr. Delehanty said. “We also feel that because of changes in format and whatnot, a lot of them have gotten lost in terms of how to find their music.”

The player is embedded into AARP’s site, and its design was kept simple for ease of navigation, with buttons only for playing and pausing a song, and skipping ahead to the next one. The channels, which will each have about 500 songs in rotation, will also be restricted to a handful of recognizable genres, like jazz, classic R&B and coffeehouse folk.

Eighteen channels of AARP-approved music might conjure endless hours of innocuous oldies. But with the Woodstock generation now entering retirement age, rock and soul of the 1960s and ’70s loom large on the service. Marc Morgenstern, Concord’s chief market and asset development officer, said his goal was to mix new music with the old.

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