Tag Archives: radio

Radio is dead. Long live Radio.

New York Times today: Will the Internet Kill Traditional Car Radio?

Ultimately, the incursion of Internet-based music services and radio station streams may be less about annihilating yet another business model than it is about breaking down barriers. For the first time, small local stations will be able to reach an entire driving nation, so some broadcasters may see their audiences swell as more listeners find them on Internet-connected car radios. In the end, it may simply be a case of radio is dead, long live radio.

Radio is the last bastion of the centralized publishing model, and wireless internet enabled automobile devices stand to challenge this final establishment. People increasingly don’t want to be fed centralized content any more, nor do they appreciate being bound to the radio-listening constraints of local proximity to radio stations. They want to have personalized access to content that predicts their tastes, or else they want to specifically select what they want to hear. They want their content to come from anywhere, and to be available anywhere. This is how things work on our computers, our smartphones, and so on – why should our car radio experiences be any different?

It also occurs to me every time I plug in my iPhone to my car’s audio system that developing a separate car interface for audio consumption, or really any other function, is largely a waste of time and money. Why bother with it? Instead, ship an iPod Touch or some Android-based device embedded in the dash. Let users access their existing streaming content, be it iTunes, Pandora, Last.fm, NPR apps, and so on.

This goes for other car functions as well. The other day I was getting a ride back to the car dealer in their shuttle, and their 2007 R-class Mercedes had a GPS system that was woefully out of date and buggy. I asked the driver why they hadn’t updated the software or the maps, and he said they just weren’t going to do it for whatever reason. This struck me as completely backwards from the current trends of technology – why not embed a GPS system that updates itself continually over 3G? Small changes could incrementally add themselves to the map database, and software updates pushed through an app store or web interface. Why suffer with a broken map application for a car that is only three years old?

Perhaps all the car functions could be opened up. Provide an API for developers and the smartphone app market do the rest.

Save Internet Radio

Yet more fallout from the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (“DMCA”): The Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (appropriately acronymed “CARP”) is recommending some ridiculous formula for calculating royalties, which effectively comes out to something in the neighborhood of 200 percent of average revenuse out there. Obviously this would kill the whole thing.

It would be an incredible shame to lose such a valuable resource of music and information. I for one love listening to the wide varieties things that you just can’t find in traditional media sources, and the wealth and variety of broadcasts out there is just amazing to me. At this moment I see ten classical broadcasters out there, 25 jazz streams, and 20 under the “international” heading in iTunes. Where I live, the traditional radio broadcast quality sucks, there is only one station that claims to be classical, and it sucks too.

Why not just charge an appropriate royalty that is porportional to station revenues, so that some of these little guys can still keep alive and we can all enjoy a good thing? It seems to me that it would be in the best interests of the record labels to keep these guys in business in a way that they could thrive and grow, and generate revenue as the medium expands to the mainstream. If this medium dies, we all lose.

Check out these links for more information:
Save Internet Radio Website: How you can help!
SHOUTcast – extensive listings of broadcasters you can tune in to right now
Apple iTunes Internet Radio Demonstration