HD Radios to Gain iTunes Tagging

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iBiquity Digital has announced a new free service called iTunes Tagging coming to select HD radios which will enable HD radio listeners to flag songs they hear over their HD radios for later purchase via Apple’s iTunes store. Developed in conjunction with Apple and major broadcasting groups, iTunes Tagging will work via a dedicated Tag button which will first appear on the new Polk I-Sonic Entertainment System 2 and the JBL iHD HD radios, due to hit the market before the end-of-year holidays.

iBiquity says several major broadcasters are already on board to support iTunes Tagging across hundreds of stations; additional stations and broadcast groups are expected to join the initiative soon, with a formal announcement of participating organizations expected in time for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Radio convention at the end of September. “With iTunes Tagging, HD Radio technology provides a cool new way to capture the songs listeners discover, buy them on iTunes and then enjoy them,” said iBiquity Digital CEO Bob Struble, in a release. “We are especially pleased that so many broadcasters came together so quickly for the initial launch.”

Several additional HD radio products with the Tag button are expected in early 2008. The HD Digital Radio Alliance industry group says they’re planning a multi-million dollar advertising campaign to promote iTunes Tagging.

A dedicated iTunes Tagging button on a broad range of HD radio receivers could be a significant move for Apple; although some (like noted music producer Rick Rubin) have argued radio is a moribund medium, industry analysis seems to show that a significant portion of the music-buying public discovers new music in part via radio…and there’s little doubt those are exactly the sort of listeners who are likely to be adopting HD radio.

However, it might be important to note the dedicated button says “Tag,” not “iTunes.” If relations sour between the HD radio industry and Apple—or Apple loses is dominance of the digital music marketplace—it’s not inconceivable that those “Tag” buttons could be redirected to another music download service.