Friday, June 08, 2007

This is the future of radio - and new music


The BBC's iPlayer may have finally been given the go-ahead by the BBC Trust, but it has yet to launch and in the interim commercial radio has stolen a march. Under the guidance of the RadioCentre's energetic chief executive, Andrew Harrison, the trade body has launched its own version - the RadioCentre Player. Although it is initially being positioned as an internal tool to get exposure for all of the UK's 300 or so commercial stations, it has the potential to go way beyond a bit of in-house marketing.

So what does the player offer? At its heart is an existing piece of software developed by a US company, Ressen Design, which adapted it for the RadioCentre. This is how commercial radio has got the player out so fast; in contrast the BBC's iPlayer is being developed in-house.

The RadioCentre Player features 12 preset stations, including the national services, Classic, Virgin and TalkSport; other big stations such as Heart and Capital, and a few smaller regionals from Channel 103 FM to Lincs FM. The selection of the preset list is not based on audience or any other consumer measure but on who sits around the RadioCentre board table, hence the bizarre mix.

Putting such political nonsense to one side, the player gives access to every single station in the UK, either in an alphabetical format or by group ownership basis. This means that you can listen live, in real time, for free, to any station in Britain. Whether you are a record plugger wanting to assess a music format (or, more importantly, find out whether a station really is playing your artist's song), or a media buyer checking out the target audience, this is a brilliant tool. It is quick - almost every station buffers and streams live in less than 10 seconds - and there are fewer clicks than going on to the BBC website to "listen again".

But it goes further than that. The player also gives access to thousands of internet-only and licensed radio stations from around the world: 10,227 stations, in fact, including 3,794 from the US.

Now that the RadioCentre Player is launched, the genie is out of the bottle, and it will inevitably become a consumer tool because listeners will want it.


That report comes from the Media Guardian, and follow this link to use the RadioCentre Player in the UK, for other readers download the version from the US site. Software applications like RadioCentre Player are disruptive technology, and they are going to revolutionise radio in the same way that blogs have revolutionised journalism.

To see the real power of the RadioCentre Player click on the Search button above the presets window, then click on the + symbol on the tree that appears to expand a branch, Worldwide Radio > Stations by Format/Genre/Style > Classical gives a choice of 170 stations. If the station doesn't stream through the player (some connections seem to be flaky) connect to the stream direct from the station website which appears in the centre window in the player.

There are now more than ten-thousand radio stations available on your PC, or stream them to your stereo using Squeezebox. You can search by genre, and any station anywhere in the world is now just a couple of mouse clicks away.

This is a fantastic opportunities for classical and contemporary music to reach new audiences, and this blog will be part of the revolution. The photo below shows me working in the studio yesterday on the radio version of On An Overgrown Path. Watch this blog, or should that be radio station?


Now read more about the future of radio
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4 comments:

Antoine Leboyer said...

Very surprisingly, RadioCenter cannot be used outside of the UK (I just tried). Bandwith issue, regulations ?? This should be the next step towards spreading the medium.

Pliable said...

Antoine, try the US version which works for me from the UK - follow this link.

Martin Belam said...

From the screen-grab it looks like it is using Windows Media Player to deliver the streams - or is that a choice the user can make?

dpomic said...

Windows Media, Real, and QuickTime players; Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari browsers; and MS Windows and Mac OS. Web-based streaming—no additional download or install.