Radio Tomorrow with James Cridland
I took a look at two apps last week which blew my mind – Recast and 6 Seconds. They both use the same kind of data from online radio streaming, but both do interesting things with it.
6 Seconds – from Michael Robertson of mp3.com fame – is a really interesting product. It’s a bit like Pandora, but instead of searching tracks, it uses proper radio stations instead.
So with 6 Seconds you can search for an artist – Taylor Swift, let’s say – and it comes up with a bunch of tracks that have just started on radio. Many have started just six seconds ago, hence the name. Click the song you want to hear and it tunes into a radio station and plays it for you.
You get unlimited skips, and of course continuous music: since you’re tuning into radio stations, not just a jukebox. Chances are, if the station is programmed right, you’ll get something after Taylor Swift that you’ll also like. If it isn’t, that’s no problem – just skip to another track by Taylor Swift, or another similar one.
What I found really interesting about this app was that it levels the SEO playing field. If I want a radio station playing The Eels, one of my favourite bands, and all I care about is the music, then this app will find it for me – with no SEO trickery other than “is this station playing the Eels”? It means more discovery of new stations.
Recast – from a South African developer – is an app which also uses now-playing information from radio station streams, and audio recognition too. In this case, however, it uses this information to build up a list of the songs that the radio stations play.
Use the app and you can listen to that radio station’s playlist – but without the “inconveniences”, to quote the website – the DJs, the ads, the travel, and all the other stuff.
The radio stations get data around the songs played. The app makers claim to be able to help discover song burn faster with this app than other measurement techniques, since people (once more) have unlimited skips: you hook it up to your Rdio or Spotify account.
Australia’s triple J is just one of the stations listed, along with KIIS-FM in L.A. and plenty of UK and South African stations too. Tune in and you get that station’s playlist: and nothing else. The station’s brand is simply used for their music curation.
These are two apps that use now-playing information in very different ways. Both are, I guess, using now-playing information in ways that simply weren’t thought of. I can’t help think of one of these apps as being a friend, and one as being an enemy, to radio stations.
I suspect as we continue we’ll see more services like these, using publicly-available data from our industry in different ways, to disrupt or enhance radio. Will we be disrupted or enhanced?
Read more of James’ columns in the Radio Tomorrow section of radioinfo.
He has served as a judge for a number of industry awards including the Australian ABC Local Radio Awards, the UK Student Radio Awards, and the UK’s Radio Academy Awards, where he has also served on the committee. He was a founder of the hybrid radio technology association RadioDNS.
James is one of the organisers of nextrad.io, the radio ideas conference each September, and is also on the committee of RadioDays Europe. He writes for publications including his own media.info, Radio World International and RAIN News.
James lives in North London with his partner and a two year-old radio-loving toddler. He very, very much likes beer.
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