TiVo On The Radio
Depending on when you were born, you probably remember taping the radio to hear certain talk, interviews, music, band debuts or your voice calling into the station. The dream of Generation X was alive in San Francisco at yesterday’s Launch Conference, where digital music industry disruptor Michael Robertson (mp3.com, mp3tunes) announced DAR.fm, a recording application for radio online and off that works on a wide variety of connected devices and phones.
Just like your DVR, DAR (Digital Audio Recorder) allows you to record any station and listen later. For playback, DAR is partnered with mp3tunes, the music storage locker also created by Robertson.
Licensing issues need not apply, Robertson told the SF Appeal. “Forty percent of Americans have a DVR. Personal recording of broadcasts is not new. It’s new for audio.”
And actually, that’s not entirely true, as “anyone can DVR a music (TV) channel” he also pointed out. He’s right, as I’ve kept one particular “dvr’d” Pixies concert that aired on a concert channel for over a year. I frequently turn it on and do something else.
Building “Tivo for Radio” was a huge technical undertaking, but as a result Robertson says “we have the schedule for all of the broadcasting stations we could find.”
DAR also includes a capturing engine to identify song segments so users can advance between them. Aside from capturing audio in song segments, Robertson says his other invention lightened the load. “Using mp3tunes for storage made it easier, which is why at Launch it works with so many devices,” he says.
Use of Digital Audio Recorder is free, and I took the plunge; I programmed my DAR to record ninety minutes of Classical station WBQW, broadcasting from Portland, ME as well as one full episode of Coast To Coast AM, broadcasting from KFAQ in Tulsa, OK.
Both shows recorded, and played back without skipping, but it took me about fifteen minutes to figure out how to play it back via mp3tunes. Then again, it was very early in the morning.
All of DAR’s messaging makes it clear the product is in an alpha stage, and Robertson is urging all users to send feedback. If you already use DAR, or attended Launch, let us know what you think.
Rdio On Roku
Rdio, the on-demand social music service from the founders of Skype, announced today it is extending its reach to the Roku streaming player.
In many other previous roundups I have indicated that I prefer using Rdio for on demand streaming. Roku is a family of streaming players that deliver high definition video and audio via built in wireless and Ethernet to your TV and home entertainment system. The press release boasts over a million devices sold and over a billion content streams served.
“This combination of Rdio and Roku is a solid step forward in our march to redefine the music experience across the variety of platforms and devices in the marketplace,” said Drew Larner, CEO of Rdio. “By extending Rdio’s core social and music innovations onto Roku devices, users can, for the first time, share and discover music from their TV and home entertainment system.”
I distinctly remember recording this Cars video in 1984 on Friday Night Videos to a VCR (Video Cassette Recorder) tape to share with friends the next night:
Even if I were the same age as Andy Rooney, sharing music on a device would not be a new concept to me; but it’s the first time anyone has been able to use their Rdio account on a Roku device, extending the social music experience inherent to Rdio into more connected devices.
Rdio’s integration with Roku is not the only one of it’s kind (see: mog) but new digital integrations like the one between Rdio and Roku enable a whole lotta Gimme Gimmes, Radio GaGas and Drug Buddies to actively or passively listen and share music for a monthly or yearly subscription fee slightly more than the price of one full album or EP at iTunes or Amazon per month – regardless of which music service they choose.
Pricing, however, could change at any time given the new announcement from Apple, now under scrutiny, imposing a 30% tax on all paid subscriptions purchased via iPhone or iPad.
If that happens, price matrices may rise and even double. In that case your subscription might be the same cost as two album purchases per month, for an unlimited on demand streaming catalog on your Roku. Consumers don’t react well to higher pricing structures, but they’ve also never had so many choices with unlimited shelf space on so many different devices.
Sub Pop Joins The Fight To Save KUSF
Yesterday afternoon, Sub Pop Records posted a blog entry asking their fans to help save KUSF.
“This was a total tragedy for everyone involved, but there’s still a chance to lend your support,” says the post, urging fans to donate to the cause.
While saving KUSF from its future as a classical station doesn’t seem likely, the outcry from independent labels such as Sub Pop is not a surprise. Independent music thrived on college radio throughout the nineties when Sub Pop and other larger indies were in the midst of a growth spurt.
College radio is responsible for most indie acts rising to the top prior to the last 5-7 years, but not just because it’s always been the broadcasting venue most amenable to new music and experimental genres. Most larger independent label marketing plans have a section for “college radio,” which also allows for incorporating data like spin counts and radio charts.
Without it, labels and analysts alike have a gaping hole in their strategies. With internet radio companies on the rise, the largest which just filed for IPO, labels managers and artists still do not have access to listening data; there are no charts.
As of now, there is no chart system for Internet Radio that compares to any college radio chart that has ever existed prior to the digital age. There isn’t even one that doesn’t compare. There is no Internet Radio chart that encompasses statistics from the sources that most Americans indicate they are using for Internet Radio.
Losing KUSF is a major sore spot for San Francisco, independent bands, and labels around the country, but the healing can begin by turning to internet radio and churning out new radio charts that enable better analysis than college radio ever did.
In an age where data is king, nobody seems to be getting spin counts or charts from the larger internet radio companies, who profit from data by selling it to advertisers, and whose interest is not vested in making this data available to artists, managers or labels. The profit margin is just not high enough. Thus, the valley meets the music industry, again.
The listening benefit of college radio has already been transferred into zeros and ones, but the pain will not go away without another method of analysis remotely similar to the informational hole left behind in the wake of KUSF’s fight to stay alive.