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Apple took one step further into the Internet radio business, when it inked a deal with Warner Music Group for music rights this past weekend. Apple already has an agreement with Universal Music Group for recorded music rights, and is reportedly trying to get more licenses to unveil its service in time for its developers conference on June 10. What will the service — dubbed iRadio by the press — entail? And what will it mean for other music streaming services like Pandora and Spotify?

Guests:
Greg Sandoval, senior reporter for The Verge
Larry Marcus, managing director of Walden Venture Capital
David Hyman, founder and CEO of MOG, an online music subscription service; and founder of HYMCO, a music consulting business
Zach Rogue, Founder of Oakland-based indie band Rogue Wave

  • Sartorius

    Streaming music only makes sense for Apple if they were to release a new phone that has almost no flash memory, in which case you’d need to store your music collection in iCloud and stream it all. In that case, Apple would offer streaming subscriptions like Pandora does. But what specs would this phone have? Besides precious little flash, the new phone could be either (A) the cheap prepaid phone people are talking about, (B) a small iPhone Nano people like were talking about a couple years ago, or (C) the iWatch. The first one is unlikely because prepaid plans usually lack data needed for streaming. The second is unlikely because a tiny-screen iPhone would not run 99.9% of apps, and app writers would have to rewrite apps for that screen size. The third option is more intriguing and is actually long-overdue considering the Chinese have been selling watch phones for what, 5 years already? Personally I am not sure I’d buy a watch phone but then again, I’m tired of carrying my iPhone everywhere.

    • Bob Fry

      I often listen to streamed music because I want variety around a general theme (acoustic guitar, for instance). I can’t download all the music that exists, it makes far more sense to tell Pandora what type of music I like and let it select actual tracks. So your premise that a new device is needed doesn’t compute.

      • Owen Rubin

        I agree with Bob. There are LOTS of ways to listen to music, many streaming, and many with reasonable quality (192k streams or better). No new device is needed.

      • ” I can’t download all the music that exists” This is an important point. Once I switched to streaming radio I began listening to a much wider variety of bands than I would want to own. On heavy rotation on corporate radio, they play the same song every hour. On streaming radio, I feel like a band is on heavy rotation if they’re played once a day, and it could be different songs. I hate the way radio takes even good bands and plays the same song over and over until you don’t want to hear it any more.

  • Yuri

    I don’t listen to online music at all and never will. But I like concerts and I would consider buying concert tickets on iTunes. Is that possible yet? If not, isn’t iTunes the place to go for music?

    • “I don’t listen to online music at all and never will.”

      Goodness, why? Do you just have a bad connection, or are you in some way opposed to personalized stations with less/no ads?

      • Yuri

        I have an actual radio, that’s why. Much more convenient. If I lived in Texas perhaps I would hate the radio stations, but in NorCal they are good.

        • Ha ha that’s funny I live in NorCal too (Oakland). Radio may be a little better here than in Texas, but it still blows compared to online radio streaming. Corporate radio play an extremely limited array of artists, and of those they choose only one song by that artist, to play ad nauseum until whatever charm it had is destroyed. And that’s before you get to all the advertising you must suffer through, and the “radio personalities” (as there are no more true DJs that pick music) that drone on and on.

          You give no reason for being close-minded. If you have Internet, it’s perfectly convenient to go to a site like ex.fm or blip.fm and listen to music all day long. Your loss, pal. I’m just sad for all the great bands you’ll never get to discover.

  • Owen Rubin

    I listen to a streaming radio service you have not mentioned, one of the original providers of true radio on the internet. It is called RadioIO (Radio Internet Only) and offers free as well as higher quality paid streams. Their channels offer music in many genres, and are moderated by real people, not some awful computer algorithm that keeps repeating the same songs over a short period of time, like Pandora, which gets old REALLY fast. As for quality, a 192k stream does a reasonably good job on quality, and unless you are listening in a high quality environment, is more than good enough.

  • Patrick Kaliski

    As a musician with some long running bands, I am happy to see the reduction of CD waste (plastic jewel cases, etc), but sad to see the possible loss of album art. With so much focus on digital downloads, bands will begin to invest less in the art of the album cover, insert, etc and how it all works together.

    • Alex S

      Interestingly, digital download has lead to a resurgence of the vinyl genre. That is how I purchase physical media now, coupled with digital download / streaming to supplement it.

      /notahipster

      • Owen Rubin

        Alex, where do you find your vinyl? All on-line? And what do you pay for a record these days? I hear the argument that vinyl is better than digital, but I guess that all depends on which type of noise you are less bothered by, analog (pops and scratches) or digital (digital sampling noise). I find a good CD on a great error-correcting CD player sounds a LOT better anything on vinyl, especially over time as vinyl wears down. Besides, I hate the analog noise myself, no matter how much I spend on anti-static sprays and gadgets.

  • Ben

    How much advertising?: I won’t watch TV with advertising and I won’t listen to music with advertising. So far, the cost of ad-free media has been bearable. Once that’s the only choice, however, I think it won’t take long for subscription costs to skyrocket. But at least with streaming you have to option to listen to international radio stations, so if you have to listen to advertising you can brush up on your Swedish at the same time. Not a total waste.

    • Yeah, the exorbitant ads turned me off of Spotify and Pandora. Visual ads are one thing but I can’t stand audio ads, and both those sites have way too many (it’s almost like they want it to be annoying so you’ll pay for their subscription service).

      However, there are plenty of sites that don’t have audio ads. As I mentioned above, I like best ex.fm, blip.fm, and hypem.com. the61.com and turntable.fm are cool too. There are others but those are a good start.

  • Chemist150

    I had collected about 11 CDs over a decade before I started using Napster, from there I used WINMX because it had a smart downloader. Back then, you could toss a CD into drywall like a throwing star and still play it but now, just taking the plastic off the case scratches the CD. In about a year and a half, I had PURCHASED CDs to bring my collection to over 100 CDs. I never downloaded or purchased Metallica music although, I think they’re awesome but along with the community said, “OK, we have plenty of other music”. I downloaded unrealased albums when they were “accidentally” put up and later pulled but bought the albums because they were good.

    Since they shut those down, I’ve purchased maybe another 10 CDs since and often feel like I got ripped off and I’ve paid more for lower quality materials. I’ve never downloaded a song and never will. If I don’t have the right to change it’s location or resale it, I don’t own it. It’s money down the drain especially if I stand too close to a magnet on the refrigerator and erase my music player drive.

    Sampling music allowed me to find what I did like before I bought it. 15-30 seconds of one song does not do that. People chasing money will continue to kill business in unexpected ways.

    • Owen Rubin

      I do not understand. You said you used several download services at the start and then said you don’t and have never downloaded music. Which is it?

      • Chemist150

        Paid download. Owen… Please be an adult Owen.

        • Owen Rubin

          That is a fair answer, as I actually did not understand your answer, not being “childish” as you would imply. I was unaware that Napster had any paid download services. Guess I learn something new every day. As for being an adult, doctor cure thyself. It was an honest question. Sorry if I pushed some button, not my intention.

          • Chemist150

            Napster was free. I have never purchased downloaded music.

    • ” If I don’t have the right to change it’s location or resale it, I don’t own it.” I agree with this completely, but it doesn’t make sense in relation to downloaded music.

      Downloaded music is easier to resell or move than any platform in the history of music. It’s the first time that a copy of a copy is perfect/identical to the original. You can not only easily move your mp3 to whatever device you want, you can duplicate it infinitely.

      Anyhow, if you don’t want to download, why not listen to streaming radio (which is really the subject of this show, not downloads)? You get to hear 100% of the song, completely free.

      • Chemist150

        The courts ruled that you can only sell the item that you downloaded too. You cannot sell the digital copy.

        If you downloaded it to your iPod and want to clear space, you cannot sell your song to make room on your iPod, you legally must delete it or sell the song by selling your iPod.

        Prior, It had been ruled with CDs and cassettes that you could make copies and share with friends.

        Laws are changing for different media. I don’t like the new laws. Thus, I will not participate.

        • Owen Rubin

          I am not sure. I always understood that sharing CDs or making tapes has always been a violation of copyright. The 1976 Betamax case clarified that tapes of copyrighted media made for personal use ONLY were legal, but distribution was not. My understanding is that distributing any copy of a copyrighted material for money or not was still a violation of copyright law. In the days of sharing mix tapes, it was hard to track, and the numbers were so small, that media companies ignored it. That did not make it legal. But when digital distribution became available, now a copy could be shared to many thousands without loss, so it became an issue. I am always interested in understanding correctly, so if you could point me to a source for the statement “Prior, It had been ruled with CDs and cassettes that you could make copies and share with friends.” I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

        • I get where you’re coming from, and I respect that. It’s the reason I don’t use Apple. You make an interesting point in that buying music is no longer buying a collector’s item that has resale value.

          While I don’t agree that the law should restrict sharing amongst friends, I can see why resale value is illegal: Because your copy can be perfectly duplicated infinitely, if they don’t have such restrictions stores would pop up reselling the same song indefinitely, which they paid .99 for once. That would destroy the whole business model of music.

          The only way to pull it off would be to put *more* DRM into the mp3s, making them impossible to copy. That restriction would be much worse for the consumer than a no-resale restriction, because your music would be trapped on the device where you first downloaded it.

          If you know around this conundrum I’d be glad to hear it.

          • Chemist150

            It would have to involve a third party and each file would have to have a unique id associated with it like any other software.

  • Constance Pawell

    Personally, I love Spotify. It has the nice radio feature of Pandora, but with the addition that once you find a song you like using the “radio”, you can then go back and listen to that song as many times as you like. You can also search for specific songs or artists as if it was iTunes, but you don’t need to pay for the songs. The artists also get paid for each time you listen to a song. And you only get one thirty second add for every four or five songs. I think that Spotify nicely collects all the best features of the other internet radio and music programs.

    • An add every four songs is way too much! Even corporate radio doesn’t intrude that often. When you get used to streaming music and having no ads, it’s really irritating. I’ve never been able to get into Spotify because the ads are so annoying.

  • Jim

    I am a music lover that DOES care about quality and I still buy CD’s because I hate the way mp3’s sound on my home system. I am dreading the day that I can’t buy a new album on a CD anymore. It’s unfortunate that I may be in the minority and that mp3’s have “dumbed down” our ears, I hope that Pono delivers what it aims to.

    And also I can’t imagine having to spend ANOTHER monthly fee for a service when I would rather own the music and be free to do with it what I will. It sounds cheap now, but its inevitable that a company like Spotify will eventually get greedy and up the fee and then we’ll all be stuck. Nothing will replace actually owning the music.

    • Agree, I’m not eager to pay another monthly fee. I think the way forward is visual ads with affiliate marketing (station gets a cut for every song purchased), and additional perks like reward-based point systems that you can buy into as well.

      But there are lots of other sites that don’t require a monthly fee…though they probably mostly play mp3s.

  • I like Hype Machine, Ex.fm and Blip.fm the best. Blip has always been my favorite because of the immediacy, and knowing that all your songs are picked by an actual person, a person you can reply to in real time. But the RIAA threatened them and now they only play YouTube songs, which is a big drawback in selection. Both Pandora and Spotify have way too many ads for my taste. Edit: just want to mention that Blip.fm is based out of San Francisco.

    Overall though, music streaming changed the way I listen to music. I often hear radio fans these days say “They just don’t make good music these days” because they play the same crap ad nausem on corporate radio, while as a streaming fan I’m often overwhelmed by the number of fantastic bands I find on a daily basis. I promise you, if you are still using corporate radio for music discovery YOU’RE MISSING OUT.

  • Unclefishbits

    Mixcloud! http://mixcloud.com/djfishbits

    I mentioned this elsewhere, but Spotify and Pandora aren’t about real discovery. It is confirmation bias and selective perception…. Eli Pariser’s filter bubble encloses you into this narrow world, without finding things outside the walls.

    I really encourage people to spend time listening to real DJ’s on services like Soundcloud or Mixcloud.

    Or become a DJ on http://turntable.fm

    but to just passively listen to a smart algorithm confirm what you already like is limiting, and boring. Real discovery is being challenged by things you otherwise would not have heard.

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