September 3, 2002, 12:00 AM

Tuning in to interactive radio

Using automated identification technology, radio stations can report what is playing on the air right now and offer listeners the chance to buy the music through links to Amazon.com and CDNow.com.

Internet Retailer

Radio stations have always been a major-if not the major-factor in the sale of music. Listeners hear a new release on the radio-or are reminded that they really liked that song from that Elvis Costello album they lost-and go to the store to buy the CD. But the radio industry and the retail industry have been separate businesses. Until now, that is. Yes Networks Inc. has launched a service that uses the Internet to tie the two businesses even closer together.

Using proprietary technology that automatically identifies music playing at 1,000 radio stations throughout the U.S., Yes Networks can download the information to a radio station’s web site, or to any web site, so listeners can learn what’s playing at the moment. Yes Networks then provides links to Amazon.com and CDNow.com so consumers can buy the CD right away. It also links to Art.com so fans can buy posters and TicketMaster.com if there is a local concert coming up.

Yes Networks earns a commission on sales and, depending on the arrangement with the radio station or other web site hosting the music, can share revenue. Typically, sharing arrangements would be made only with sites that are likely to drive lots of sales, says Daniel Goldscheider, president of Yes Networks. “The overhead of setting up an account and then monitoring what is happening for the station to have a chance to earn $1 a day is not economical,” he says. Stations that don’t earn revenue at least get the benefit of fewer calls to the station asking names of songs that the station played, Goldscheider says.

Yes Networks, the result of the merger of Yes International AG, a Swiss company, with American-based ConneXus Corp., a pioneer of interactive radio, creates a digital identifier of each song, then automatically monitors 1,000 radio stations to report what each is playing. For now, its database contains only pop music, but Goldscheider says the company hopes to add classical music.

While Yes Networks earns its money so far through commissions on sales of music-related items, Goldscheider says the company plans to expand to other products and content, such as hosting ways for listeners to buy products advertised on the radio station.

Hosting the playlist is not limited to radio station web sites. Portals or other web sites can host the content as well. It costs nothing to link from a web site to Yes Networks.

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