D Story

Pureplay of the Day: Herald.FM

Monday, November 18, 2013 - 11:55am

With the tagline, “The Messenger of Good Music,” you can expect a broad programming range. Herald.FM (www.herald.fm) covers alt rock for the most part -- Arctic Monkeys, Mumford & Sons, The Vaccines, Lana Del Rey, and Bleached have streamed through our speakers today. The programming is not preciously on the fringe; we heard some Radiohead, too.

Playlists are not published -- this is lean-back, radio-style listening. An in-browser worked perfectly in our testing, and you can launch a pop-out player window from the station’s Facebook page

Founded by Romanian Gabrief Ispas, Herald.FM posts music news on the site, and an events calendar. There is zero fuss around site registration and community (non-existent on both cases), or alternative bitrates and other technical distractions. The streamlined approach keeps the site lightweight and easy to understand.

Beck issues complaint against Spotify number … we’ve lost track

Friday, November 15, 2013 - 12:05pm

Not to trivialize business issues for musicians, but the “Spotify debate” rages on which increasing repetition. Some of the publicized outbursts against Spotify result from musicians being asked about it by journalists.

The latest high-profile musician to take a club to the music service’s business model is Beck, who was granting an interview to an Argentinian publication during a tour of South America. “Streaming is inevitable,” Beck stipulates, and regards the royalty payouts unsustainable. As with other musicians who have issued objections of streaming as a music-consumption model, Beck views Spotify in snapshot mode. He does not consider a level of global scaling across many platforms that might raise musician revenues to higher levels, despite acknowledging that streaming is moving into the scene unstoppably.

Interestingly, Beck is distressed by the audio quality of Spotify streams, and presumably most other platforms. It’s not the first time we’ve heard that complaint, but audiophiles generally fight a losing battle in this regard. (Starting with similar complaints about CDs.) Access and convenience are core consumer values. When millions of people are satisfied with listening to compressed music through cheap earbuds attached to a phone, the audiophile’s burden is heavy.

Slacker partners with Time Warner Cable

Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 1:10pm

Music service Slacker today announced a partnership with Time Warner Cable in which Slacker will be bundled into TWC subscriptions, presumably both via TV and Internet screens.

Slacker pursues a vigorous distribution strategy, pairing with media networks (ABC, ESPN), telecom companies (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile), and major car companies.

The TWC Slacker outlet is supposedly on the Time Warner Cable Central site (www.twcc.com and twcc.slacker.com), but testing this afternoon, immediately after the announcement, resulted in an experience less satisfying than the government health care site -- endless blank page loads.

Request for comment was not immediately answered. Stay tuned for updates.

Pandora is a $5-billion company

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 12:40pm

Publicly traded Internet radio service Pandora will report 3rd-quarter earnings next Thursday, November 21. But the company and its stock are benefiting from analyst anticipation of quarterly results. Investment house Needham & Company raised its target stock price for P from $25 to $33, which was certainly a driver of yesterday’s four-percent trading jump, with more gains in progress today.

We don’t normally report on daily stock movements, but this spike represents a milestone of market capitalization. Pandora is now valued at just over five-billion dollars in the public market for the first time, as it trades into all-time highs.

An article in the December 2 issues of Forbes notes that mobile ad sales of more than $100-million for the third quarter makes Pandora third in mobile ad revenue behind Google and Facebook. 

Pureplay of the Day: Streaming Soundtracks

Monday, November 11, 2013 - 12:20pm

No music has grander sweep than movie soundtracks. Streaming Soundtracks, one of an Internet-only cluster of stations owned by 24seven.fm. (Others include 1980s.fm, Entranced.fm, Death.fm, and Adagio.fm.)

Inspirating, uplifting, tragic, dramatic, tectonic -- movie scores evoke big feelings and events. Listening to this stream makes the work day epic. In honor of Veterans Day today, Streaming Soundtracks is showing a programming emphasis on patriotic movies (e.g. Saving Private Ryan, The Bridge on the River Kwai).

The site engages a bustling community, with a running message box and a focus on requests. Subscribing to the site ($60 per year, or less if you subscribe to one of the sister sites) bestows specialized request benefits, including a timer that counts down to the start time of your request.

An Android app offers mobile streaming of all 24seven.com stations.

Pureplay of the Day: Pear Radio

Friday, November 8, 2013 - 11:50am

Many home-produced pureplays are inspired by a love of broadcast radio. Some, like yesterday’s The World of Blues (www.theworldofblues.com) and the recently spotlighted East Village Radio (www.eastvillageradio.com), emulate radio by presenting live hosts. Today’s pureplay is mostly playlist-driven, but is motivated by affection for what its site calls “FM radio’s free-form golden age.”

An 8,500-song playlist ensures that the stream won’t go stale if you listen for hours, and you might do so. Pear Radio (www.pearadio.com, and it is Pear, not Pea) crosses genre boundaries with its ear fixed resolutely on good music, not niche music. This morning we’ve heard electronic atmospherics (Thievery Corporation), middle-road rock (Coldplay), classics (The Beatles), venerable folk-rock (Bruce Cockburn), and a ravishing instrumental by Kevin Keller that we had never encountered.

In a word, variety. Good music discovery, too. This is an Internet station that spares you the trouble of surfing the dial, or your Spotify friend lists, to keep the day’s music fresh. We’re reminded of Radio Paradise (www.radioparadise.com), another POTD pick -- the same high level of curation expertise but with programming boundaries stretched a bit wider.

We could not find a pop-out player on the site, so you have to boot up a desktop player. But there is a dedicated iPhone/iPod app for easy headphone listening. Be sure to read the About page for station owner Dave Hill’s personable explanation of his project. Like most indie pureplays, Pear Radio is supported by listener donations.

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