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RAIN 8/13: New service to dynamically create online radio channels with latest blogged music

Posted on: 08/13/2010


A new online music service called Shuffler launches Tuesday, which fetches new tracks from music blogs and presents them as genre-specific online radio streams. And, as each song plays, the relevant blog content (from where the song originates) is presented to the listener (see image at right).

Wired’s Eliot Van Buskirk got a short preview of the service.

As Van Buskirk mentions, other services (e.g. Hypebot) aggregate music from blogs and create streams, but Shuffler seems to go a few steps further. Most notably, it presents the music in its original blog context, and as such, becomes not only a great way to discover new music, but new sources of music and criticism. Shuffler says it scours approximately 1,600 music blogs and will soon add SoundCloud, YouTube and Vimeo as music sources.

Also worthwhile is the presentation based on specific styles of music (see image on left), reportedly using Last.fm’s API to dynamically assign songs to genre groups. Shuffler co-founder Tim Heineke describes the system to Van Buskirk as “Pandora for music blogs” or “Stumbleupon for music.”

The service will be free for the first 20 songs per month, but Van Buskirk reports that a one-time $9 fee permanently lifts that limit. He also writes that, “the version of Shuffler Heineke is most excited about is its upcoming ‘cool, minimal’ iPad app, which he described as ‘Flipboard for music.’”

Look for a full-bore test drive of Shuffler in RAIN after the launch.

Read Eliot Van Buskirk’s preview of Shuffler in Wired online here. Read the Shuffler blog and sign up for e-mail notification of its launch here.


Edison Research VP/Strategy and Marketing Tom Webster has an interesting take on determining music royalty rates (whether for on-air of online play): Instead of flat rates or percentage-of-revenue deals, radio should pay to use music according to each song’s evolving “extrinsic” value.

He writes, “Let’s let the labels set sliding ‘tiers’ of value for their artists. New, unproven artists that the label believes in could be offered free of performance rights, while the next Lady Gaga might command the equivalent of 2%. Maroon 5 might be in a higher tier, while Yeasayer sits in a lower tier. Tiers would be based upon the artists’ clear, demonstrated value to the labels (easily demonstrated by sales) with the potential for ‘discount rates’ to promote back catalog releases (you know, like the movie industry does?).”

It’s a sort of “free-market” take on royalty fees. Why should a station or a webcaster pay as much to help a label promote a “baby band” as when playing a Beatles song? If a webcaster wants to save a little dough, she can perhaps risk her audience’s patience by playing a lot of “low- or no-royalty cost” artists (i.e. unfamililar that need the exposure). A well-heeled big-city broadcaster defending his turf, meanwhile, will have to pay for the luxury of playing nothing but sweet, sweet well-testing library classics (why do you think they call it “gold?”).

How could stations and labels possibly keep track of this? “Dude, it’s 2010. Your music database software spits out numbers. Buy a computer and write a script,” Webster offers.

The piece is as much “thought exercise,” I suspect, as it is a real suggestion (the second word of Webster’s headline is “wacky,” as is “so wacky it just might work”). But if the ever-evasive universal music database ever begins to assume corporeal form, such a “market-based” royalty solution might really be the most fair way of compensating copyright owners.

Read Webster’s idea in The Infinite Dial here.


Webcast platform, aggregator, and directory service Live365.com this week launched a new feature it calls “LiveSafe switching,” for its personal and professional broadcasters.

According to the press announcement, LiveSafe allows Live365 broadcasters “to toggle seamlessly between live and basic broadcast modes“ (non-live, or automated, database-driven streams) “while retaining listeners on their station.”

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