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RAIN 5/17: UK conference panelists argue DJs have place in Net radio age

Posted on: 05/17/2010


In a new radio world of customizable streams and music algorithms, can the on-air personality and DJ survive? Yes, said panelists at Brighton music conference/festival Great Escape last week. In fact, Internet radio opens the doors for “a new wave of bedroom DJs,” which could replace the “generic noise” of tradition radio, said SoundCloud VP Daves Haynes, according to the Guardian’s coverage (here).

Danny Ryan, founder of a customizable music service called Playdio, agreed: “People don’t only want just a playlist of good music, they also want to be led through it by characters who entertain, and whose taste they trust.” XFM DJ John Kennedy argued that, “People like not thinking sometimes, they can just switch on the radio and not think about it.”

That’s a good thing, because most of the panelists agreed that Internet radio is indeed the future. Ryan called DAB “old and tired” and said Internet radio “is simply a superior platform.” Meanwhile, Kennedy encouraged terrestrial broadcasters to “embrace change and discover how new technology can work for them.”

Moreover, panelists said DJs could prevent music from being “ghettoized.” In other words, with so many customizable and niche music options online, listeners can easily shut themselves off in an isolated world of music they know they like. “That can be massively damaging because people aren’t listening to music that they may not like on first listen,” said Sean Adams of music blog Drowned in Sound. “The web has enabled everyone to be a DJ and in some ways that has diluted the need for [them] but people are still looking for direction and gatekeepers. The need for an established medium has changed but that doesn’t mean we don’t still need people like John Peel.”


Some commentators of late have called attention to the privacy issues surrounding Pandora’s ability to link to a Facebook profile (RAIN coverage here), but now Wired points out that other users don’t need Facebook to see your listening tastes — just your email address. “While the fact you created a Metallica radio station may not seem like the most confidential thing in the world, Pandora makes it feel like a private act when you use the service,” writes Ryan Singel.

He goes on to input email addresses, like Apple CEO Steve Jobs’, and investigate their listening tastes. Jobs, for example, apparently likes “jazz trumpeter Chris Botti and country music legend Willie Nelson.” Though Pandora didn’t respond to Singel’s inquiries, a user did point out how to block others from seeing your listening habits. “So take this post as a necessary, missing update to their privacy policy: Anything you listen to on Pandora is not confidential and is available to anyone who has or guesses your e-mail address.” You can find out more about this feature — and how to block yourself from it — at Wired here.


Live365 has launched Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Radio. Internet radio advertising network TargetSpot is handling the ads for the program, with Walmart sponsoring the show’s first week with Live365. “Advertisers can wrap their message around compelling and relevant content while running an ad. It will sound very natural and blend with the content, making the advertising even more effective,” said Eric Ronning, co-president of sales for TargetSpot. You can find Live365’s press release here. Oprah Radio is also on Sirius XM (channel 195 and 156, respectively, according to Oprah.com). Current AccuRadio COO John Gehron served as GM for Oprah Radio until 2008.


Sirius XM is apparently recovering nicely from some rough times last year, All Things Digital reports. Then, the satellite radio broadcaster was trading for 35 cents a share. Now, shares are up to over a dollar and the company has boosted projected new subscriptions from 500,000 to 750,000. Additionally, revenue projections have jumped to $2.75 billion and profits to $575 million. “Quite a change from last year, when the company seemed headed toward almost certain bankruptcy,” writes John Paczkowski (here).

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  1. “UK conference panelists argue DJs have place in Net radio age”

    Of course they do, no automated server software in the world can compete with the warmth and intimacy of the human voice.

    Why they have to argue the case is quite beyond me.

    Terry Purvis · May 17, 08:38 AM · #

  2. Probably because the most popular Internet radio services — Pandora, Slacker, Last.fm — have no on-air DJs.

    Jerry · May 17, 09:30 AM · #

  3. That’s because those costs weren’t worked into those juke box systems. Without a DJ, it’s a juke box. It’s NOT radio.

    Cramer · May 18, 09:43 AM · #

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