customizable

Social Radio develops online "side channels" for South Bend rock station

Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 11:35am

Federated Media's WRBR/South Bend, IN ("103.9 The Bear") has launched a series of customizable online music streams powered by Social Radio, called "My Bear."

The service enables listeners to choose from seven different niches of rock music, and personalize their listening by skipping, banning, and voting on the songs they hear. Federated chief strategy officer James Derby told Inside Radio he thinks the "My Bear" service could potentially convert "P3 and P4 listeners" into "P1s" by way of more individually-tailored listening experiences.

Federated Media plans to add liners from the jocks as well as "interactive commercials" (the streams are just music and general sweepers now), according to the news source. The station says it will soon launch mobile apps and a social media presence. And should Federated deem the project a success, look for personalized versions of the company's other stations.

Social Radio powers the new Balut Radio, launched by TV5 New Media in the Philippines (RAIN coverage here).

New personalizable web radio service the "central feature" of Spotify's iPhone, iPad apps

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 11:00am

Spotify Radio on iPhones

A coming update to Spotify's iPhone and iPad apps will include customizable streaming radio, available even to free users (previously Spotify's mobile app was completely off-limits to free users). Observers say the move makes Spotify "more directly competitive with online radio leader Pandora," as Billboard writes.

The new streaming radio service -- now "the central feature of the mobile app," according to Spotify product manager Donovan Sung -- lets users create stations from songs, playlists, albums, artists or their friends' musical tastes. Users can save tracks for on-demand listening later and customize the stream with thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons.

Spotify quoteInterestingly -- reportedly unlike Spotify's earlier radio product (more here) -- the new radio streams are "DMCA compliant," reports All Things Digital, meaning "Spotify doesn't need permission from music owners in order to roll it out. It also means the streams are "cheaper to operate" for Spotify, writes Bloomberg, "because royalty rates are lower" than direct deals. The streams also include advertising (like Spotify's free desktop offering).

The iOS update will arrive "in the next few days," Spotify told Engadget. An Android version may be coming later this year.

"We feel like the radio experience of just hitting play, leaning back and not controlling exactly what plays is core to a great music experience,” Charlie Hellman, Spotify VP of product, told Bloomberg.

We first caught wind of Spotify's plans to create a Pandora-like Internet radio service in April (RAIN coverage here).  On-demand competitor Rdio is also reportedly working on a Pandora-like web radio offering (RAIN coverage here).

Peter Kafka argues in All Things Digital that this is bad news for Pandora. "A lot of people confuse Spotify’s streaming music service with Pandora’s streaming music service. Now they’re going to be a lot more confused." That's "a problem for Pandora."

He continues, "Spotify now has a chance to expose many more people to its product, in the hopes of eventually converting some of them to paid subscribers. And Pandora, which has consistently argued that it hasn’t seen any impact from Spotify’s U.S. launch last summer, may no longer be able to say that."

You can find more coverage from All Things Digital here, Bloomberg here, Engadget here, The Verge here, Boy Genius Report here and Billboard here.

Audiogalaxy returns with P2P Internet radio/music locker service

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 12:15pm

The newly-relaunched Audiogalaxy.com is designed as a "hybrid" of two popular online music models: (1) an online "locker" to store and remotely stream users' private music collections, and (2) customizable, algorithm-based "music discovery" streams -- in other words, personalizable Internet radio.

But more than this particular combination, what's interesting is the delivery structure. The music isn't even streamed by Audiogalaxy in the conventional sense -- what the user hears is actually streaming directly from user to user, without ever being saved on the company’s servers: peer-to-peer streaming. Logically, this arrangement greatly reduces Audiogalaxy's bandwidth bill while quickly growing their library of available music. 

"Our service offers music fans a tunable music experience - play your own tracks anywhere without uploading, copying, or syncing, or lean back and start discovering music you don't own via Mixes," Michael Merhej, the company's founder, said in the launch announcement. The company calls the music discovery streams "Mixes;" they're playlists of recommended songs pulling not from a library Audiogalaxy had to build itself, but from all of Audiogalaxy's users' collections.

Because of the peer-to-peer architecture, the locker service doesn't require users to actually upload their music files. Instead, up to 200-thousand songs on your computer are simply scanned and made available for instant streaming.

(While this is reminiscent of iTunes Match or the MP3Tunes.com "Beam-It" feature (here), its fundamental difference is that Audiogalaxy isn't serving the file back to the user.) 

The streams are ad-free and cost nothing for desktop listening. Mobile streams are $4/month.

Janko Roettgers, in GigaOM, wrote, "I had a chance to play with both the Web as well as the mobile version of the service Monday, and I liked what I saw. Pandora tends to gear towards the mainstream when listening to niche channel stations, but Audiogalaxy served up tons of music I hadn’t heard before. The local stations are also a nice touch. However, the Android app seemed a bit too cluttered to be useful, with too many options to access information about playlists and stations."

See more, including an introductory video, here. Read Roettgers reporting here.

Forbes sees emotion- and activity-based playlist service Stereomood as Pandora with feelings

Friday, December 2, 2011 - 11:00am

When it comes to passion and emotion, do we just leave it to the Italians?

StereomoodThis week Forbes covers Stereomood, an online radio service based in Rome. As opposed to clinical musical genres, Stereomood is designed to create a listening experience based on your state of emotion. Forbes contributor Daniel Papalia (see?) writes, "Where Pandora is omniscient and calculating, working to crack songs like codes or pretty algorithms, Stereomood is malleable and sensual."

Stereomood (which we covered in February, here) uses song links from blogs and creates playlists based on mood or activity. The user picks a suitable tag on the website, based on what they're doing or how they're feeling. Since it's based on music blogs, unsurprisingly, "playlists skew towards the indie and under the radar. Major label acts are represented, but sparingly," Papalia writes. 

"By carnally and spiritually (Mama mia!) arranging songs, the site erodes all prior notions of genre, desegregating and humanizing music," he continues. "Tracks from different eras and opposite hemispheres peacefully mingle, united by feeling and human activity – the purest and simplest of measures."

Read more on Stereomood in Forbes here.

 

Sonic Seeds aims to "provide better recommendations" than Pandora, but not there yet

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 12:30pm
Sonic Seeds is a new webcaster with Pandora-like personalization
 
Sonic Seeds is a new Internet radio service that aims to take on Pandora. Indeed, the service does allow users to create personalized radio stations based on artists or songs. Sonic Seeds even allows users to select multiple artists, songs and genres in the station creation process -- an appealing feature that in theory should allow for stations better personalized to each user. 
 
Sonic Seeds further emulates Pandora with the familiar thumbs-up and -down song ratings. The service offers unique features too, like a Music Universe chart showing how songs relate to each other...maybe. Honestly, most of Sonic Seeds is rather confusing.
 
However, despite claiming that it can "generate better targeted channels" than Pandora, Sonic Seeds doesn't create good radio stations (as CNet also found, here).
 
For example, a station spawned with The Shins (a popular indie rock group) resulted in music from Limp Bizkit, Puddle of Mudd, 70s easy rock and a track from a "doo wop sensations" compilation. After 10 songs, we didn't hear The Shins once -- or anything remotely similar to them.
 
The flexibility of being able to create a station using any combination of artists, songs and genres is appealing, but not if the resulting stations are unlistenable.
 
As CNet concludes: "this thing's not as close to ready for the public as the press release lets on...at the moment I don't see a compelling competitor here to existing music recommendation or subscription services." -- MS

UK music service We7 drops on-demand in favor of customizable Internet radio

Thursday, September 29, 2011 - 9:00am

We7's Internet radio websiteUK music service We7 has discontinued its free on-demand service, instead focusing on its customizable Internet radio offerings.

Last year the service debuted "Internet Radio Plus" in an effort to essentially become the Pandora of Europe (RAIN coverage here). Now registered users of that web radio service can "request" up to 50 songs or albums per month, essentially adding limited on-demand functionality to Pandora-like Internet radio.

"The majority of people want their music picked for them based on the genre or type of artist they like," said We7's CEO, explaining why they dropped their on-demand service. We7 is ad-supported, but users can pay to remove ads (plans range from £5-10 per month).

PC Advisor has more coverage here.

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