Michael Robertson thinks people should be able to listen to their digital music anywhere on any device. That’s exactly what MP3tunes sets out to do.
Robertson, the founder of MP3tunes, is a huge advocate of cloud based music services. He’s no stranger to the vengeance that record labels have when it comes to protecting digital song copyright law (as they define it.) In fact, he’s actually taken it on the chin before against the record companies – in the late 90’s he founded MP3.com, which he eventually sold to CNET after losing an expensive legal battle with Universal. His new service MP3tunes is currently involved in a lawsuit with EMI over copyright infringement issues.
“I think ownership is critical important in the digital age and worth fighting for.” said Robertson. “I think consumers should be able to choose where they want to use their digital property as they can with their physical property. I don’t want a corporation to be able revoke or limit access – as we’ve seen happening with Apple and Amazon.”
MP3tunes currently has over 500,000 registered users who upload their entire music collection to servers and access it from wherever they want. MP3tunes works on multiple smartphones platforms: Android, iPhone/iTouch, (iPad version waiting for approval) and many Internet radio devices (it’s compatible with devices that use vTuner and Reciva firmware.) This week they’ll introduce a deal with Roku that will enable access to music lockers on televisions.
Currently, the business model is a freemium model that offers listeners smaller sized lockers for free and charge a subscription fee for more storage space. But additional revenue sources like e-commerce and advertising may be in the cards as well.
RadioTime has announced another product that will integrate it’s software into devices – this time with BMW and MINI. The MINI Connected option features a web radio function based on the RadioTime directory that leverages the iPhone’s Internet connection to tune to thousands of AM/FM and Internet-only radio stations worldwide.
Drivers of MINIs will be able to plug their iPhones into a standard USB port and then use the car’s existing controls to select from Internet radio stations in the RadioTime directory.
RadioTime CEO Bill Moore says, “Accessing Internet radio used to require patching a smartphone into a car’s existing sound system, and fiddling with a smartphone’s controls. Now, instead of looking at your smartphone screen, you can use the dash display and MINI Joystick to tune to web radio. Radio has always been an integral part of our cars, and we’re opening up the world of music, news, talk, sports and entertainment that only web radio can offer.”
This could well be the year that listening in cars begins to contribute to overall audience growth for Internet radio. Earlier this year Pandora announced deals with Pioneer for a Pandora enabled navigation system that will detect iPhones and iTouches and put the user’s Pandora settings on the nav screen, and a deal with Ford for its Sync in-car communication system.
Finding and listening to all that Internet radio has to offer on your iPhone just got easier with the new iPhone app Spark Radio. Spark Radio is a premier radio app for Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch that features cool animations and more than 10,000 global station choices.
Spark Radio was built by Handcast Media and uses the RadioTime portal to provide access to more than 10,000 streaming stations worldwide. Listeners can search and stream what they want, whether it be music, talk radio, sports events, public radio or special programming from around the world. An elegant interface and program guide make it easy for users to quickly find their favorite stations by searching for stations or programs by keyword, location or the station URL and can browse programming by genre or location.
“The Spark Radio app is a beautiful and fun radio application that opens the world’s selection of music programming that only radio can provide,” said Bill Moore, CEO of RadioTime, Inc. “RadioTime makes it easy for Spark Radio users to find their favorite radio stations and discover new ones from wherever they are.”
Especially innovative are features such as a GPS component that allows listeners to find local stations in any given city based on current GPS coordinates; and the interactive social media features. Users can create a profile and see what other users are listening to using a Globe Navigator. They can share and discover stations, rate them and see who else is listening to the station they are streaming.
The app also enables multi-tasking on the iPhone while listening, a feature that is somewhat unique among iPhone streaming apps.
Handcast Media Labs is located in Minneapolis and is dedicated, according to their website, to creating the best interactive graphics applications for iPhone.
Big news for HD Radio this week is that it’s available on iPhone. While the HD Radio app for iPhone is free, listening requires the purchase a Gigaware HD Radio receiver accessory, which costs $80 and is only available at Radio Shack.
In this interview with wsj.com, iBiquity chief executive Bob Struble mentions that first HD Radio went portable with Microsoft’s Zune, and now extends its mobile offerings to Apple’s incredibly popular iPhone. In addition to being able to listen to your favorite stations digitally, the app enables you to tag songs that you hear and like for future purchase.
HD is simply a brand name for the digital upgrade to AM and FM, says Struble. AM/FM is the last analog medium in the US, and HD is the digital version of those offerings.
The question is, will listeners adopt the new HD technology and move to HD devices and listening, or will they shift directly to an alternative like Internet radio? Streaming Pandora, for example, is free for everyone on iPhone. The reason to purchase the HD Radio iPhone accessory, according to Struble, is that it will allow listening to HD Radio stations on your iPhone even when you don’t have a wifi connection. (but your purchase of the iPhone required you to pay for a monthly data plan that gives you unlimited broadband…)
He hopes they will convince Apple to build HD Radio receivers directly into iPhones and iPod Touch devices, which would eliminate the need for additional hardware. It sounds far fetched to me, but a while back I was betting against FM on iPhones…
A newly released study done by Targetcast, a communications firm, has some good and bad news for broadcast radio. The good: Adults 18 to 64 were found to still consider radio to be an important touchpoint for new music discovery. The not-so-good: 18 to 24 year olds were likely to indicate that radio is not so relevant to them.
Released study findings show that consumers indicate that several traditional media including newspapers, magazines and, to a lesser degree, radio, will need to change the most in the coming years. Newspapers led the pack of media needing to change, with nearly 60% of consumers surveyed identifying this medium as the one that will need to change the most – compared to 30% for magazines and 20% for radio.
Another notable discovery from the research: Men are more likely than women to replace radio with digital alternatives such as mp3 players or Internet stations, while women are more likely to stick with their favorite radio stations.
The bottom line should be taken as a shot across the bow by broadcast radio: “41% of those surveyed indicate that radio is still relevant in today’s media environment. According to respondents, radio provides a great venue to discover new music that cannot be experienced elsewhere. Maybe somewhat surprising, respondents overall prefer to listen to music through the radio station vs. Internet stations or on their mp3 player. ” However, within that overall conclusion there are several key demographics that are indicating a willingness to transfer their affinity to digital music sources including personal devices such as Internet radio, ipods, iphones and other multi-media devices.