7 September 02004

The ingredients of online radio

Here's an article about MSN radio in the US, which I found interesting because it presses my buttons on both online radio and new 'gatekeepers' for discovering music. Microsoft is producing online stations that mimic local radio stations by adopting their playlists, but without DJs, traffic news, weather and commercials. The coup de grace is that they are — according to the article — using the local stations' call letters and slogans to promote their clones.

Many Microsoft-watchers will be unsurprised. The company is well aware that innovation has never been one of its strengths, but playing the cuckoo with other people's ideas is. In this case, they seem to believe that the only ingredient that identifies a radio station is the list of songs they play. There's something callously crude about the quote attributed to a senior director for MSN Entertainment: "It results in a more pleasant experience because you don't have the ads or the DJs''. You can imagine him mimicking restaurants by borrowing their grocery lists and selling his product on the basis of its lack of ambience and waiters.

Last week there was a Salon article putting the case that Microsoft's Windows Media format is more open than Apple's equivalent Digital Rights Management system. It is. But if Windows Media becomes dominant, what are the chances that the Windows Media Player interface will be even-handed in giving equal prominence to its clone radio stations and those of competitors?

Thanks once again to Five Eight for a couple of links in this posting.

Posted by David Jennings in section(s) Future of Music, Music and Multimedia, Radio on 7 September 02004 | TrackBack
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