RAIN 5/11: Spotify adds to its range of radio offerings

Michael Schmitt
May 11, 2012 - 12:25pm

Spotify playlist radioOn-demand music service Spotify has updated its desktop application to offer playlist- and album-based radio offerings.

Users have long been able to build custom playlists of individual songs on Spotify. Take The Huffington Post's "Spotify the News" playlist, for example (found here). Now Spotify can take those playlists and build custom radio streams out of them, including the songs in the playlists and similar music

The new album-based radio offering is similar to artist-based features found on services like Pandora: pick an album and Spotify builds a stream of music similar to the album.

Spotify already offers radio streams based on artists, songs and genres (RAIN coverage here). It is also reportedly developing a Pandora-like customizable web radio service (RAIN coverage here), as is competitor Rdio

You can find more from Spotify's blog here.

Paul Maloney
May 11, 2012 - 12:25pm

DAR.fm has partnered with Net radio platform provider Backbone Networks to provide time-shifting and recording technology to the nation's largest network of college and high school radio stations.

Now, Backbone announces, "sporting events, news and other community focused programs can be captured and then played back at a convenient time for listeners on PCs, smartphones or tablets making it accessible to a wider audience."

DAR.fm (think "DVR," but with "A" for audio instead of "V" for video) is entrepreneur Michael Robertson's company which enables online radio listeners to schedule and record live content for listening at different times and/or on other devices (much like a DVR works for television). Robertson was a panelist at our recent RAIN Summit West event. See video of his panel (and all the Summit content) here.

The Intercollegiate Broadcasting System is a not-for-profit association of educational institution-based broadcasters and webcasters. Its IBS Student Radio Network is operated by Backbone Networks.

Read the press release here

Michael Schmitt
May 11, 2012 - 12:25pm

Joe KennedyPandora CEO and President Joe Kennedy announced at the CTIA Wireless conference in New Orleans that the service now has more than 150 million registered users.

"The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that about 311 million people live in the U.S. (as of March 2012)," comments Venture Beat, "so Pandora has signed up a pretty massive chunk of the U.S. even with some duplicate accounts."

More than 100 million registered users have accessed Pandora via smartphones or tablets, Kennedy (pictured) also announced. "Internet radio reaches all the places where radio is historically consumed," he said. "This is just the beginning."

You can find more coverage from Venture Beat here and Twice.com here.

Paul Maloney
May 11, 2012 - 12:25pm

Mark Edwards is an award-winning radio programmer with experience at WLIT/Chicago, KOSI/Denver, KYKY, KEZK, and WVRV in St. Louis, and more. He's currently managing general partner of Mark Edwards Worldwide, his multi-disciplinary consulting practice. This is Part 3 of his guest essay; read Part 1 here; Part 2 here.

Previously in this series, I looked at the differences and similarities between the online-only KTeshLA.com “radio station” and its terrestrial counterparts. Make no mistake about it: everyone working on this project sees it as a radio station without a transmitter, not a streaming channel, a supplemental service of some kind, or anything else.

“John told me he wanted KTeshLA to be like a regular radio station,” said Chris Shannon, Program Director. “We’re adding more to it every day and treating it like a radio station.” That’s evident by listening, online or through mobile aggregator TuneIn. (The station recently launched its own mobile apps for iOS and Android, but I found the listening experience on TuneIn to be far superior to the Triton Digital-provided Android app.)

Clearly, KTeshLA is a work in progress; the streaming player lacks artist and title information, for example. But the concept of running a real “radio station” and doing it "direct-to-consumer" -- as in without a transmitter, corporate ownership, or the expense of all of that -- is incredibly attractive to content providers like John Tesh and his TeshMedia Group.

A direct-to-consumer, online- and mobile-optimized radio station could be used for a myriad of purposes: to target a single locale (like KTeshLA), to use technology to serve ads to mobile listeners based on their location (whether they’re listening to a locally targeted station or a national service), or to serve specific niche audiences (once the dream of HD Radio).

KTeshLA has a direct format competitor in Southern California: Tesh’s former home, Salem’s KFSH-FM. This raises the question of if, and when, KTeshLA will begin a marketing effort to lure listeners away from their FM competition. Once that happens (and assuming Arbitron is encoding the streams of the online station), the real power of a local radio station without a transmitter might be seen for the first time.

Los Angeles, after all, has a significant number of Pandora listeners, and a huge amount of mobile listening. KTeshLA is poised to take advantage of Angelenos' comfort with listening to mobile "radio." Whether it takes months or years, the station could be among the first to be on par with traditional radio. Developments like the "connected dashboard," streaming aggregation applications, and the growing trend among consumers to perceive anything that makes noise on a computer or mobile device is "radio" may make acceptance and adoption of services like KTeshLA easy... perhaps even easier than launching a new format on FM. 

While it may seem odd to call John Tesh a “trailblazer,” his project in Los Angeles may serve as one of the early instances of direct-to-listener "broadcasting."