Streaming Radio, how quaint


Clear Channel and Infinity after becoming de-facto duo-ply in the terrestrial radio business, and nearly killing it with mega-formats, have decided that it is time to stream their radio stations on the web. I see the logic of it – broadband has finally arrived, people listed to music digitally, and there is an audience to be monetized. However, from where I stand, they are coming to the market five years too late, with a product which can be best described as $2-bottle-of-vinegar pretending to be a fine Cabernet.

Infinity CEO Joel Hollander said in a statement: “We believe streaming our stations online will not only exceed their expectations, but will also create an outlet with which we can target a larger audience and increase time spent listening.” His words remind me of that hideous tear jerker, While You Were Sleeping. Infinity’s reaction is like closing the barn door after the colt has bolted.

Simply streaming the music from radio stations is not going to work. The broadband-lifestyle is about choices. Folks listen to online music because it is sliced and diced to meet specific niches and tastes. Satellite radio, which is nothing more than an aggregation of niches is slowly and surely killing the terrestrial radio. Services like Mercora, allow folks to micro-slice their interests and listen to music they love, not the music that is shoved down their throats.

Despite the moral problems I have with downloading music from the Internet, I cannot argue with the fact that it allows consumers to be “highly selective.” In other words, digital music is the first market which allows “mass customization.” ITunes/IPod combination allows me to create my own radio station, sans ads. Online recommendation engines help me find music more in tune (pun intended) to my life. If terrestrial radio has to stay relevant, it has to innovate.

For clues, read this fantastic piece from The Christian Science Monitor’s Gregory Lamb. And I quote him for a closing thought.

About the only thing that really separates radio listening from, say, uploading music to an iPod is that on radio, someone else plays deejay.



comment box is approx 1×2 on my windows xp laptop running firefox at 1024×768

Om Malik

joe good points u make. i look at the typing box and i see that its a good 4 inches wide and 1.5 inches deep. i am not sure if you are the only one with this problem. since i don’t have a PC i am not sure. just wondering if there are others who have the same problems

Joe Netuser

Internet radio does NOT EQUAL music!

The usual radio/tv/etc media are domain of abject morons. There is a dearth of interesting or insightful material. This is where internet is viable and valuable. People are sick of being treated like 2 year olds, with the kind of fascist censorhip where innocuous words like “shit” can not be spoken. When can I be treated as an adult? Where can I go to speak as an adult, to express adult opinions, and not have to endure the moronic propoganda by the shills of stupidity? And by adult, I do not mean x-rated, I mean mature and uncensored.

I will pay for that content, spoken word not music, especially if I can listen when I want, perhaps by downloading archives of the programs.

BTW, how’bout making the typing area for this reply larger? 17 inch monitor with a 1″ x 2″ typing box? Is that a joke or just your sadist inclination?

Om Malik

I think its not just Apple. The biggest problem record companies have is that they cannot be taste makers for the planet anymore and that’s the real shift in the consuming patterns of the music.


One complaint I hear from iPod users is that they don’t know where to go for new music. One “advantage” to radio is that they get exposed to new music without having to make any effort–unlike checking websites for music info.

I, too, have given up listening to radio. For new music, I tend to look over the iTMS “People who bought this also bought” lists and the occasional reference from someone else.

That said, I imagine this is one of those things that makes record companies nervous about Apple. After all, how can the record companies promote the music that they want us to listen to? I imagine that they next round of negotiations will cause something similar to MTV’s corruption–the labels getting a bigger say in what music iTMS promotes.

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