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Online Radio: Where is Music on the Internet Headed?

In a recent post, we suggested that free online music had some to overcome some major hurdles in its journey from the “dark ages” of the audio cassette through the digital revolution. But we all know that online radio is more complicated than just digitized music online, and if we are going to identify the top priorities in the industry today, we have to take a serious look at some of the biggest, most complicated, and most recent online radio and music phenomena on the net.

Almost There: Pandora Online Radio and the Variability Problem

After the rise, fall, and re-emergence of Napster and the other music sharing sites, music listening online took on a whole new form as we realized more of what this medium was really capable of. With free online music, we had the option to experience fresh music without having to invest in it — legal limitations meant we had limited control over what and when we could hear, but at least on-the-go options became more feasible. Suddenly, the problem became not too few options and too little control, but the sheer breadth of the playlists that were available to us at home and online. Music lists in our personal libraries had exploded, and shuffling wasn’t enough — we needed help.

The people behind the music genome project had the bright idea of classifying and automating some of the instinctive choices that go into our music preferences. Now, we had personalized suggestions that suddenly took away the confusion of having too many options to choose from. The problem? In the end, many of us shied away from sites like Pandora except for occasional visits, because the combination of user-defined choices and user-based suggestions sometimes meant that the more time and effort we put into our playlists, the less varied and the the more predictable they became.

These sites’ automated suggestions valued technical similarities between songs, so in the process of guessing what we would or wouldn’t like to hear, they eliminated some of those gut-level “this is great” moments we experienced back when we had more randomness — or, with radio, the input of someone else’s personality and preferences in our playlists.

Suddenly, it seemed we’d progressed too far — precise control was still important, but it was not everything, and many of us started to realize that what we wanted was something we’d started to miss out on in the new online music with its “us-only” limitations. What we wanted was online radio.

The Fix: True & Enhanced Online Radio Stations

Online radio became the next big evolution for online music when sites providing Internet Radio Stations, like 977music appeared, because they gave us all the personalized control we had come to expect of digital music, plus the variability of outside suggestions. Using a combination of intelligent, user- and algorithm-driven selection and “good old fashioned” random choice, stations like ours now offer the perfect combination of reliability and surprise. But even though online radio seems to approach perfection, the needs and expectations of audiences continue to evolve. A few predictions for upcoming changes:

  • Portability. 977Music already offers an iPod app to make your stations and playlists portable, but plenty of other internet radio stations still need to catch up in this respect, and over time, they will.
  • Total integration. Too often, online music stations don’t offer personal playlists for members to use to add some stability and predictability to their options. Over time, more online radio stations will be adding these options, and down the line (depending on how we all work out details like usage rights with the big record companies), may even offer integration between those playlists and the ones at home.
  • Enhanced social functionality. One of the big problems with auto-only suggestion sites like Pandora was the solo aspect of the suggestions — every fresh idea essentially came from you, or the computer making suggestions based on your specifications. In the social media age, playlists visible to your friends and functionality like suggesting songs to friends will become more important, as online music continues to mimic real-life music-related interactions more closely.

What’s Your Take?

Where do you think free online music is headed? Share in the comments

New Frontiers in Online Music

The boss may complain that you spend too much time surfing the internet, but a lot of others are happy you’re there. The music industry has become dependent on the connection fans make with new music online. You might not even realize it, but everything about the way we get our music has changed with the popularity of the internet.

Online Music & What It Means

thumbnail New Frontiers in Online MusicIf you spend a lot of time online, you already know that the entire world is available on the internet — and that holds just as true for the music world as for any other aspect of life that shows up online. Things we could never do before are easily available right there on our computer, from instant streaming to trial versions of new songs and make-your-own-mashup programs. We can now communicate with artists all over the world in real time, we can make music purchases from other countries, and we can easily research music topics that would have been out of reach even a few years ago. The internet has opened up doors for millions of people, and it’s changed the face of thousands of industries worldwide.

One obvious change that the internet has created for the music industry is the sheer amount of music options we can choose from. In the past our selection of music was pretty limited. We knew what we heard on the radio, or what our family and friends had on CD, but it was hard to gain exposure to new genres, new artists, new songs. Now that we can access music online, fans can learn about new artists in their favorite genre or learn about new genres all with the click of a button. Furthermore, fans can communicate with other fans about their favorite music online. As the music community grows, artists and listeners are able to explore a variety of music they never would have been able to approach before. Just because a band lives in an area where rock and roll is popular doesn’t mean they can’t be successful in the bluegrass genre, now; they simply need to market their music online so bluegrass fans can find them.

Online Music vs. Online Radio

Radio has taken a new turn since the popularity of the internet has increased. Traditional, non-online music radio stations are shifting to using both off- and online approaches, and making the most of the world-wide web by broadcasting radio programming live online. When listeners are at their desk at work or surfing the internet at home, they can listen to music online right from their computer. Instead of an over the air radio station like those of the past, internet radio stations operate only on the internet, and are not governed by the same laws as traditional radio stations. This setup offers plenty of advantages for listeners because the stations have more freedom in programming. It’s better for the radio stations because they can reach a much wider audience than if they were limited to the local community.

The internet has brought musicians and their fans closer as well. When fans are searching for music online, they often depend on social networking. When fans locate a band on their favorite social networking site, they are able to learn more about their bands, keep up with show dates and band news, and communicate directly with members of the band. Fans love being personally involved with the bands they enjoy, so communicating with them directly makes fans feel much more loyal to the band.

The internet has brought about amazing changes around the world. A few decades ago, few had computers in their homes, and the only internet access was through dial-up service. Now, millions of people search the internet on a high speed connection. This allows them to reach far beyond the limits they used to be bound by. Fans can now listen to music online, communicate with their favorite bands, and expand their musical interests in an entirely new direction, all from their personal computer. For fans and musicians alike, the internet has changed the way we listen to the world.

 
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  • About the Author:
    Jeff Bachmeier is owner of 977music.com, an online music and online radio station network providing live streaming Internet Radio channels with music from the 50’s thru Today. Users can also choose to create their own customized on demand playlist through their own social media profile.

    For more information please visit 977music.com.
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