MP3tunes

Robertson's UberTalk gives an "on-demand feel" to political, sports, and music programs

Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 6:55pm

Serial entrepreneur (and frequent RAIN Summit speaker) Michael Robertson (MP3Tunes, DAR.fm) has launched UberTalk, a portal for online talk radio designed to allow listeners to find the content they like, regardless of its originating broadcaster.

"My premise is radio stations are a quaint artifact of regional spectrum licensing which made sense when slicing up AM/FM spectrum," an arrangement which "makes little sense on the world wide web. A more logical way of looking at radio would be to focus on the content which is what attracts people," Robertson said today.

So, instead of sorting and searching by station, UberTalk steers users to find the programs they like, with a design that mimics the television "EPG," or electronic program guide. Listeners can find shows through the popularity-based rankings, or by category (sports, politics, etc.) and tune in instantly (via the site HTML5 player) to any show currently airing on any of thousands of radio stations.

Robertson explains, "Due to rebroadcasts and time zone shifts this means that many popular shows are available all throughout the day making radio programs more on-demand feeling." To listen to shows that are not currently airing, UberTalk uses time-shifting functionality from Robertson's DAR.fm.

Try UberTalk 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.

Guest essay by Michael Robertson: "The Smart Phone Killed the Car Radio"

Friday, September 30, 2011 - 11:00pm

Today RAIN brings you a guest essay from respected entrepreneur Michael Robertson. He founded MP3.com, in 2005 launched MP3tunes and most recently built DAR.fm -- a TiVo-like device for recording radio programs online.

Michael RobertsonIn 1997 I drove a beat up Honda up to LA to meet with the major record labels. I wanted to show them the PC would become the center of people's music life thanks to the new found capabilities MP3 brought. Music fans could warehouse massive music libraries, organize their music, make custom playlists, burn CDs and share that music experience with others. Those I met with scoffed at the notion that the home stereo would be replaced by the PC remarking that "most PCs don't even have speakers!" The major labels could only see the computer as a word-processor. But, I knew that the PC would displace the home stereo and become the music hub.

I have the same feeling today about the car radio getting stream rolled by the smart phone. Today's smart phone has a virtually unlimited audio catalog thanks to the net. Much of the content is interactive (meaning users can rewind, fast forward and skip ahead 30 sec). Many in the radio industry scoff at the notion of the phone replacing the ubiquitous AM/FM car radio. They say that users don't want/need a big library of programming - just the morning DJ / sports talker / political commentator that happens to be offered in their town. If that were true, why wouldn't listeners want those same shows in the afternoon for their drive home? The radio industry sees the ability to rewind/fast forward as unnecessary. They think that radio fans are passive robots who are content to just sit and listen. But, every indication I see in magazines, on TV, Twitter, blogs, etc. tells me that users want control.

DAR.fm now allows everyone to record AM/FM radio and have it automatically downloaded to any smart phone or tablet. I've put together some videos which show how to automatically sync radio shows to an iPad, iPhone, Android, or a PC to use with other mobile devices. (iPad/iPhone users click here) Whenever I jump into my car or travel, my phone already has a few episodes of my favorite radio shows ready for me to listen to. This YouTube video shows how I mount my smart phone and plug it into my car's stereo system.

My smart phone has already made my car radio obsolete because I rarely listen to broadcast radio. I'm not alone. More than half of adults 18-24 have used a portable MP3 player or phone for audio in their car. 41% are interested in rewinding, fast forward and pause (and I think the rest don't even know it's now possible and they'll want it to once they experience it). Radio purists dismiss smart phones as a threat to the AM/FM radio, but there was a day when every house had a home stereo too.

-- MR (originally posted at michaelrobertson)

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