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May 17th 2012

AOLer Thomas Chau Talks Countdowns and Songs of Summer

As online music streaming services continue to grow and evolve and summertime tunes start to fill the air, we thought it would be a good time to sit down with Thomas Chau, programming and product director for AOL Radio, to help us pick some new music and also better understand what makes AOL Radio unique.

Announced last fall, AOL Radio's partnership with Slacker Radio combines Slacker's advanced technology with the acclaimed original programming of AOL Radio Music Directors and DJs. In a phrase - it's the best of both worlds. "Our 200+ stations are managed by our team of seasoned music professionals who have years of expertise in the genres that they manage," said Chau. The size of Slacker's library, which houses millions of tracks, and real time customization also make AOL Radio unique. "Our platform allows us to take the very latest listener song data that we read on a daily basis, and see right away how users are responding to music. We then make adjustments to our stations depending on how people are reacting. Are users listening to the song in full? Or are users skipping right away to the next song? Are they favoriting the song, or are they banning it? These factors - along with our own instincts and tastes - help make our curated stations the very best they can be."

AOL Radio's "New Music" stations (like New Pop First and New Hip-Hop First), introduce listeners to the next big thing and features new artists and songs even before they're available for sale or played on competitors' stations. To fit all audiences, AOL Radio also comes in three flavors: Free, Ad Free and a full on-demand music service (launching in June) available on web and mobile.

When discussing AOL Radio's latest offerings, new countdown stations, Chau becomes sentimental. "I remember watching MTV as a kid and sitting through wacky video countdowns, or listening to countdown shows on my local radio. Similar to how blogs create Top 10 lists or photo galleries on a regular basis, AOL Radio is bringing back the radio countdown but in a 2.0 way... A good countdown takes you on a nostalgic journey, so to speak, from beginning to end and that's what we hope to accomplish with these countdown stations this summer."

How will these countdowns differ from those of Chau's youth? First off, "listeners don't need to sit through the whole thing at once. They listen to however long they want and return at a later date/time and it will start back where they left off. They also don't need to start listening at a specific time. The stations are there for them on-demand to start or stop whenever they like."

Already, the Top 50 Boy Band Songs station has received overwhelming fan support on Twitter, "They're chatting about what they're hearing and talking about songs they had forgotten about, something we don't see happen with our regular stations." This is not the first time that the social media product has helped connect AOL Radio with its listeners. "A few years ago when Twitter was growing and relatively new, I decided to do a Twitter Request Day to help grow our social media presence. We told our listeners that on a certain day, we would play any song that was requested to us on Twitter. The more votes a certain song got, the more often we would play it. And so during the course of 24 hours, we saw record labels, artists and die-hard fans rallying to get their songs as many votes as possible. Artists like Justin Bieber, Natasha Bedingfield and David Cook tweeted to their fans to get their songs requested. We saw tens of thousands of requests during that day and within the first few hours, we saw that #AOLRadioRequest was a trending topic, according to a third party tracking service." Chau cites this accomplishment as one of his proudest moments.

Chau personally programs the pop and dance stations and manages various other aspects of the product, such as customer feedback, product development, product troubleshooting and social media outreach. Outside of work, he listens to even more music, plays video games, explores new restaurants and is "also searching for the best lobster roll in New York City."

And new music? Chau also offers his predictions for summer's big music tracks which include, "Usher 'Scream' and Calvin Harris & Ne-Yo's 'Let's Go.' There are some new artists with debut singles that I expect to be big hits, including Rita Ora's 'Party,' Cher Lloyd's 'Want U Back' and Sammy Adams' 'Only One.'" To hear all of these tracks visit the Fresh 40 station and to learn more about AOL Radio, read a product review here. Also make sure to check out the newest AOL Music Sessions featuring hit boy band, The Wanted.

Oct 7th 2011

Laugh, Love and Learn With AOL's New Video Series



It's no secret that online video is popular. Really popular. In fact, we've grown unique visitors to our video properties 86% year over year*. We've have grown our library to more than 300,000 premium videos and we've been #1 in video on key topics such as technology, autos, travel, fashion, food and home. AOL Video is one of the top-10 video platforms on the Web with 43.9 million unique viewers and 403.6 million U.S. streams per month**. We believe in the future of online video and bringing it to our consumers everywhere they live on AOL.

Our original series, You've Got, our one-minute daily series on AOL.com, just surpassed 100 million views.

Our relaunched Sessions series on AOL Music, grew 208% year over year***, and attracted 3 million streams in August 2011.

But not to rest on our laurels, we're going to take it to a whole new level. We're excited to announce 15 new original video series featuring some of the biggest names in the entertainment business about some of the topics our consumers care most about. Some of the series are already live, and the remaining series will roll out over the next several months. Many of the shows are produced in-house by the AOL Studios team in Los Angeles and New York.

Included in these new series, is "Tiger Beat Entertainment", an entertainment news and lifestyle show for teens and young adults, produced in collaboration with Jennifer Lopez and her company Nuyorican Productions, along with Believe Entertainment Group. It will be distributed through and in partnership with AOL and Cambio, a venture of the Jonas Group, MGX Lab and AOL, and will be produced at Cambio's Hollywood studio.

Here's a snapshot of the rest of our exciting new series, featuring a lot of names you know:

  • Little Women, Big Cars: From bake sales and soccer games to gossip and divorce, four moms navigate the comedy and drama of suburban life. Starring Ed Begley Jr., Antonio Sabato, Jr., Julie Warner and Kristy Swanson. Produced by Vuguru.
  • A Supermodel Stole My Husband: A lighthearted makeover show in which a frustrated wife enlists an adored supermodel to help transform her husband. Produced by AOL Studios.
  • Heidi Klum on AOL: A guide to fabulous living for everyday women, including fashion, beauty, parenting, lifestyle, fitness and nutrition. Produced by Full Picture.
  • Jocks & Jills: Sports show meets The View in a fresh and funny sports talk show hosted by a rotating panel of diverse celebrity guests. Produced by Flavor Unit Productions.
  • Lost in Translation: Reality series following Angie Martinez, hip hop DJ and famous 'Nuyorican,' as she attempts to learn Spanish, learn to cook, date and reclaim her Puerto Rican heritage. Produced by Flavor Unit Productions.
  • Fearless Living: Based on her bestselling book, On Becoming Fearless, Arianna Huffington, looks at the many aspects of living a fearless life – from motherhood and parenting to beauty and health to navigating the workplace to friendship, relationships, and aging gracefully. Produced by AOL Studios.
  • The Tanning Effect: Steve Stoute, bestselling author of The Tanning of America, interviews entertainment icons and pop culture thought leaders including Jay-Z and Pharrell Williams; the series is sponsored by State Farm. Produced by AOL Studios.
  • Sessions: Original, exclusive performances with hitmakers like Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Adele and Lady Gaga. Produced by AOL Studios.
  • Unscripted: Celebrity co-stars interview each other – with users' burning questions. Past talent includes Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Aniston, Robert Pattinson and Adam Sandler. Produced by AOL Studios.
  • You've Got: Everyday, everyone from Barack Obama to Elmo to Matt Damon tells the world what "You've Got". Produced by AOL Studios.
  • Autoblog - The List: Hosts who consider themselves true automotive aficionados must tackle crazy car challenges off of 'The List,' created by Autoblog's expert editors. Produced by AOL Studios.
  • The Interface: Exclusive performances from breaking artists, including the best up-and-coming artists like Mumford and Sons, Rogue Wave, Manchester Orchestra and The National. Produced by AOL Studios.
  • MMA Hour: Get up close and personal with the celebrities of the MMA Fighting world, from the web's best MMA Fighting resource. Produced by AOL Studios.
  • The Engadget Show: Industry leaders and tech luminaries take the stage in front of one of the largest audiences of tech enthusiasts. Produced by AOL Studios.
  • CliffsNotes Films: Short, animated, irreverent and interactive versions of literary classics, with Sony Pictures' film Anonymous (releasing October 28th) as the exclusive sponsor of the first six shorts. Produced by Mark Burnett, Coalition Films, Josh Faure-Brac and AOL Studios.
  • AIM High: TV broadcast-quality action series following Nick Green as he juggles high school with being a secret government agent. Starring Jackson Rathbone from Twilight and Aimee Teegarden from Friday Night Lights. Produced by Warner Brothers.

We hope you tune in. Thanks for watching.

Sources:
*August 2011 comScore Video Metrix
**June 2011 comScore Video Metrix, based on Content Type Videos
***August 2011 Omniture SiteCatalyst

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