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Pandora, Sirius and Spotify Should Check Into Hotels

People, it really isn't this difficult and you don't even have to start with big-ticket content. The W Hotel seems to fancy itself music savvy, but doesn't really carry that idea farther than its lobby. If you had a means of brining satellite radio or streaming music into each hotel room, wouldn't that strengthen your argument a bit? Wouldn't that only confirm that you know what all the kids staying at places like the Ace Hotel chain -- with its lobby turntables -- are listening to these days?

If only there was some well-tested example of how to make such a thing happen. Oh, wait: It's called every new car in North America. When Sirius XM (SIRI) knew it had a great product but was hard-pressed to come up with a way to get people to try it, it began striking deals with automakers to make their gear a part of vehicle entertainment systems. Those partnerships now include just about every major automaker and even luxury marques including Bentley and Rolls-Royce. Sirius-XM satellite radio is now installed in more than 54 million automobiles and should expand to 100 million by 2017. The percentage of folks who drop the service after its three-month trial period, meanwhile, has dropped below 2% for the first time this year.

Not to be outdone, Pandora (P) has partnered with 23 car brands to put its streaming service into more than 100 vehicle models -- with the company estimating that it will be in one-third off all cars sold this year. Ford (F) and Microsoft's (MSFT) SYNC, General Motors' (GM) IntelliLink, Toyota's (TM) Entune and BMW Apps have all made Pandora feel at home without requiring a driver to connect a device through Bluetooth or, worse, a cable.

Why Sirius-XM and Apple aren't in a death struggle with Pandora, Spotify, Apple and Rdio to get their proprietary technology into hotel rooms before the apps storm the lobby is anybody's guess. You have a captive audience that, at worst, is already subscribed to your service and just lacks access to it. At best, that same captive audience has never tried your service, doesn't know what it's about and hasn't had the opportunity to take it for a spin.

Come on, satellite and streaming music companies, you know how this works. You already load up rental vehicles with free trial versions of your service just to hook the suckers who'll spend enough time behind the wheel to hear the difference between your stations and the commercial-laden over-the-air radio that just keeps playing Lorde's Royals twice an hour.

You can leave it to hotels to bump up bandwidth, but you're assuming there's a whole lot in it for them. Maybe if you, oh, help subsidize some beefed-up wi-fi and smart televisions -- or sound bars, set-top devices or other smart items that could enhance the guest experience -- you could convince them to let you in without charging visitors some onerous fee for your services.

You're staring into an untapped market that's currently languishing amid borrowed discs, last generation's device docks, overpriced pay-per-view and fuzzy HGTV shows. You could give them a taste of something they love, make it worth hotel operators' while to provide it and reap the benefits in your subscription rates and sales later.

Whatever you do, just do it quickly. Hotel entertainment is a long '90s tech flashback with a brutal buffering rate. Give us an option we won't have to put in the room safe when we hit the pool or waffle bar.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

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Stock quotes in this article: P, SIRI, AAPL, NFLX, F, MSFT, GM, TMAMZN, OUTR, MAR, GOOG, HOT, DIS, TWX 
Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

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