Design and Frequency

We live in a world in which we can establish a connection online almost anywhere and anytime we want. In the world of radio, this has resulted in people moving away from terrestrial radio to Internet radio. Internet radio looks like it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future due to services such as Spotify, which have really popularized listening to music online and on mobile.

 

Spotify has stolen the spotlight from services such as iTunes, due to its ability which allows a user to not only stockpile their own music playlists, but share them to the world of social media. Connor was strongly against using Spotify for a long time, but has been using it for the past two weeks for the sake of blogging and honestly feels that it is quite a good platform. Spotify allows the user to interact with terrestrial radio stations, but possesses the capability to do so much more than just a normal radio platform because it combines Pandora, iTunes, and Facebook. Pandora uses artists that a user is interested in to compile a database of songs that fit the user’s particular needs. iTunes allows the user to organize their music while having access to podcasts and terrestrial radio. Facebook allows the user to keep up with their friends, see pictures of family, and post about what they themselves are doing. Spotify combines all of these features into one effectively, aided by good design.

 

There’s a good chance that Spotify might not have taken off in the world of Internet radio if it had not been designed cleanly, and in a way that is familiar to the casual user. Before Spotify, iTunes had been the dominant music platform on computers, and many users had grown used to the Mac interface with the menu on the left-hand side and the Now Playing window at the bottom left-hand corner. Spotify wisely copied this interface from iTunes, so that users signing up for the first time would know exactly how to work the program and not quit for frustration with the interface. However, it also differentiates itself from iTunes at the same time with its strong use of color; the lime-green logo and the polished black UI makes the program clearly distinguishable and memorable to the user. But the feature that is especially done well in Spotify is its incorporation of ads into the overall design. In competing services such as Pandora, you often find that the ads don’t fit well into the UI and are often poorly designed; but in Spotify, the ads feature attractive, non-pixelated graphics that consistently show up at the bottom and right sidebars with a sleek animation that contribute to Spotify’s trendy and modern feel.


However, some users dislike looking at ads no matter how attractive they look. Like most digital platforms, Spotify has a fee for users who wish to experience an ad free environment with a subscription-based business model. Connor and Lina both feel that this is the future of Internet radio and design.

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The Rat Race

The topic of whether or not terrestrial radio will meets its demise is that of a big one in Radio and the Changing world. I do advocate the continuation of terrestrial radio, but it has a lot in common with the platforms that are forming in internet radio. The interesting aspect is to observe how these two platforms with such different motives, coexist with each other to turn over how we as the listeners interact and use each specific platform.

I did some research on a new app recently known as Milk, and its design matches that of terrestrial radio. You can search through different stations by genre, but you end up being presented with a wider range of music than terrestrial radio. Milk will rise up in the internet radio world and attempt to change the way we use internet radio. Like mentioned in my past research, Milk boasts on its ad free space, and its ability to function easily between music. Jerry Del Colliano states that this is one of the first steps in creating a world where radio is the ultimate media hub for the world. Although Colliano states that morning shows are outdated, and I disagree with that, he strongly emphasizes on how commercials ultimately dissuade people from using any radio platform. Ads will be here to stay there is no doubt about it, and if a user is pushed away by a couple of commercials then maybe they need to re think how they really like to enjoy radio.

Update: Pandora case against ASCAP

Earlier in my blog I had talked about two different radio platforms that are emerging into the internet world. ITunes Radio and Pandora, both similar, but both facing different issues. Pandora has been ruffling through legal troubles for a while battling ASCAP over how high the royalty rates should be placed on sites like Pandora, and ITunes Radio is planning on rolling out an entirely new generation of radio to the listeners of its platform. Just today, Judge Denise Cote issued, in favor of ASCAP, a royalty decree to have Pandora pay 1.7 percent higher than terrestrial radio is required to pay. In the same article posted by the electronista website I also observed that ITunes radio is being required to pay ten percent more than terrestrial radio. Although Pandora feels this is far, and have no complaints, and I am not fond of Apple joining the radio community, I completely disagree with these platforms having to pay more than terrestrial radio.

 

The suits are at it again, now they are more empowered than ever, having won their cases against Pandora. These royalty fees should not be in question. When problems like these occur they infuriate me, all I see is a giant corporation mad because they are losing a tad amount of money they are already gaining, to something they obviously see as a threat. I love and support terrestrial radio, but the third party licensing firm ASCAP does not run any terrestrial station, nor should they represent what terrestrial radio is. ASCAP simply allows for artists to be publicly broadcasted so that they collect a fee from the terrestrial radio providers. Yes, internet radio is growing at a substantial rate, but Gary Lycan wrote just last year about the decline of terrestrial radio, in which Gary Bryan of K-Earth 101 exclaimed that large majority of people still tune into the radio. With that many people listening, terrestrial radio has to gain its capitol form more advertising and commercials, sponsoring sports events or even selling merchandise. Not to get off topic, but they have to do this, and because of this people are more aware of them. Internet radio is still slightly underground and trying to grow, but just because a little competition arises the growing company has to pay more. People like Robert Feder would say that terrestrial radio is flooded with ads, and this has deterred listeners from encompassing the world of terrestrial radio. I will say there are a lot of ads, but there has to be. The radio platforms are simply passing along information, and small fragments of content, there has to be a way for money to be earned, and terrestrial radio has found its way. If you love not having that many ads featured on Pandora and other internet radio platforms then you can understand how this new law angers me. Since internet radio stations are now required by law to pay more than terrestrial stations, you can expect ads upon ads in the near future.

Those Apple Guys are at it Again

Just when you thought Apple could not wiggle themselves into a different media platform, they go ahead and do it anyways. Last year, when IOS 7 was released, Apple released a new feature built into ITunes called ITunes Radio. Yes, the new platform essentially does the same thing as Pandora, but they have a much bigger budget than struggling Pandora. ITunes Radio ended up being a huge success that Apple wants to create ITunes radio into a standalone app to be featured in IOS 8. The application would turn into almost an exact replica of Pandora, but would become an app on your IPhone that you just can’t delete, with a small amount of different capabilities. Will ITunes Radio be a nuisance to Apple users, or will it bypass Pandora and become the biggest competition the app has ever seen? You be the judge.

Digital Natives

In Radio and the Changing World I strive to ensure that the populous knows and understands the importance and relevance of the industry of radio. Whether it be terrestrial (my preference) or internet the fashion to which radio is delivered is constantly changing. Recently, Mark Ramsey, one of the country’s most well informed media specialists, attended a seminar in which he was asked a crucial question from a colleague that sums up the essence of this entire blog, “Will young people grow in the radio habit?” Although Ramsey believes that we will not, he does believe that they will, in essence, adapt to a new style… Internet radio.

I believe that Ramsey is correct in assuming that young people will adapt to the internet radio, but I do not believe terrestrial radio will die out the way he describes it. For the sake of keeping my stance correctly identified, I am advocating Ramsey’s notion that the youth will adapt to internet radio. With the increasing number of kids having some sort of outlet to the World Wide Web, comes a change in how they get their news and information in the world. From cultural determinist stand point this will ultimately dictate why the youth will adapt to the changing radio waves. Consider how fast sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Pandora, IheartRadio and much more caught on to the youth of the world. Two of those sites (Pandora & IheartRadio) are already changing the way media in transferred over the air waves. Ramsey refers to the youth as the “Digital Natives”, and he reminds us that it is not the platform to which what we find exhilarating, it is the content to which we strive to find from a platform that the digital natives look for. I am a realist, and I understand that the frequencies for terrestrial radio can’t last forever on an analog standpoint (frequency & radio towers), but through a digital outlet the terrestrial world can continue to shine. The world is already so technologically dependent, and there is nowhere to go than up from here, so why innovate the old trends to a different platform? I like the term Digital Natives. I like the term so much that I think it holds a responsibility to my generation and the next one. The responsibility of ensuring that radio continues its righteous path because remember, “The older generation will migrate to the ways of the Digital Natives.”

Opening Pandora’s Box

            Recently internet radio has taken a climb in its popularity due to the integration of sites like Pandora, that allow a user to simply create a small playlist based on the musical interests of each person. Although largely successful, Pandora has come under scrutiny due to their loyalty rights and whether or not they should be obligated to pay per song. There are two major preforming rights firms that handle the loyalties for terrestrial (AM/FM radio) and internet radio, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), and Broadcast Music. Inc. (BMI). These preforming rights conglomerates have been trying to undercut Pandora for years now, bypassing judicial orders, and requiring them to pay more money. Recently, all aforementioned parties have been scurrying through court cases to decide whether or not Pandora will continue overpaying for their streamed music, but also may decide the fate for existing royalty companies. A recent publication by the Mile Hi Music website discusses how sites like these can stay functional and running by lobbying the support from us the listeners, and I could not agree more.

 

In 2012 members of congress, and Pandora lobbied heavily for a new bill to take effect known as the Internet radio fairness act of 2012. The bill would allow sites like Pandora to become widely available to the masses, and require them to pay the same amount of royalties that terrestrial stations pay, as opposed to paying per song. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass and Pandora is still paying its outrageous fees. I highly support the continuation of internet radio, and I believe it is crucial that congress allow for the innovation of radio to manifest our country. When the matter boils down to everything it begins to become clear that these preforming rights firms do not want to lose any money to the changing time, while at the same time the artists wish to receive more for the changing time. As users, and practically the beta testers of the internet, our generation is responsible to uphold the rights of these stations, and platforms that provide a new taste of music, and new style of information. It disgusts me that an area to which is meant to be used as expression of art, feeling and news gathering has become a bee hive for corporate suits to riddle the masses of its capitol. The beauty lies within the fact that the internet is the untouched terrain of government control, which means becoming a part of a movement is ten times easier than in years before. Although in hiding for the time being, the internet radio fairness act can be born again by raising awareness. If you have ever used Pandora or platforms similar to Pandora then you have probably heard their ads. Sometimes those ads contain important information about the continuation of their site, and how the users can help. I highly suggest that you take the time out of your day to listen closely to those announcements, and spread awareness of the issue. In the end, if the preforming rights companies and the stations can’t come to an agreement the next in line to be emptying pockets will be us.