Streaming music is another name for radio

The past is the future. Streaming music online is called “radio”.

Last month’s issue of “Wired” has a fascinating article by Steven Levy, mostly about Spotify, the Swedish-based service for streaming music. He uses the article to explore the growth in streaming services (which come as Apple, Google and Amazon all are starting to launch their own cloud-based streaming or semi-streaming systems, and Facebook is adding links to music services).

He writes:

Ultimately, the effect of all these cloud services might be to clear one of the highest hurdles to a streaming subscription future: the psychological attachment that people have to owning their music. Once songs live in the cloud—and customers pay rent to store them—it’s a small step to do away with the concept of ownership altogether.

This rings very true, people are getting used to accessing the cloud rather than possessing every song. Similar sentiments were expressed in  recent episodes of the podcasts Tech News Today and This Week in Tech.

The “Wired” article also  goes on in a sidebar:

As Facebook opens its platform to streaming music services, competition to win users is fierce. Check out some of the contenders.

Besides Spotify, those contenders in the sidebar are Mog, Earbits, iHeartRadio, Turntable, and Rhapsody. One frustrating aspect is that most of these services are US only. (The big exception is Spotify, which started in Sweden, then spread to Europe, and finally to the US. It was interesting to hear Americans talks for months about how much they looked forward to getting Spotify, sort of like the way we look forward to almost everything.)

But actually one of those contenders, iHeartRadio, is an ios app that basically just allows you to listen to one of hundreds of Clear Channel radio stations. And this whole concept of listening to music from the cloud seems less cutting-edge than retro. It’s called “radio”. The world is filled with stations with varying music formats, most online, you just have to take your pick. Most of them come with commercials, which of course is what the streaming services offer if you don’t subscribe. They also sometimes include real live people talking about the music, perhaps with updates on the artists or other useful information.

When I downloaded iHeartRadio I found a station in San Francisco that seems to play the kind of music I like. Hopefully, besides the music, it also includes some local news and weather, maybe even traffic information. All of that can be fun for an expat, or just an interested person in the target area, or anywhere in the world.

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