I saw this stat for vinyl record sales in the US in 2012 (in units sold):

vinyl2012

Interesting stuff.

Of course in the comments of the article and elsewhere heated arguments break out with inflammatory titles like “Vinyl vs. iVandals” that just leave me thinking of a particular Mitchell and Webb sketch

Today’s youth is all binge drinking maniacs and tight-arsed teetotallers…

We’ve got over-compensating audiophiles on one side and people who like downloads/streaming (legal or not) on the other. Things aren’t really that polarised, surely?

So from the former we get things like “I buy CDs to support musicians” and similar. If you want to support them so badly why not just send the money to the artist directly as a donation? They’re not a bloody charity.

The musician’s role is to provide music not business strategy. If they have chosen to sign with a label and it’s making poor decisions why would you choose to support that business model by putting money towards it?

On another note there’s people arguing about how vinyl sounds much better, or doesn’t, depending on their point of view. Personally I love vinyl but it doesn’t replace digital music at all. It’s simply a different experience just like enjoying music through music games is awesome.

I like to spend money on music but to me digital files aren’t inherently valuable. I’d rather get them for free and instead spend the money on gigs, vinyl, or music game DLC. It would seem some people in the industry are at least beginning to see that music piracy has a positive role – it replaces radio.

I love radio but, and it’s a big but…tumblr_mcb0ejatrX1rs1ywho1_r1_1350931858_cover

*chuckles* Yay, childish puns that don’t really work in text.

The thing being that radio programming, much like TV programming, isn’t on demand. It’s a dictated schedule.

Streaming services for music exist and have done so for a while, but for me that’s not what I want. Sure, music streaming is nice, but what I’d like is something a bit more alive. I miss the human contact of skilled presenters.

Sure, right now I can’t afford to pay for something like that, but I can barely afford a second pint right now so that’s hardly a good example.

What I’m thinking would be a paid for service that would allow a customised on-demand radio experience.

I like Radio 4, for example, but between 1345 and 1700 they rarely broadcast anything I like. Furthermore much of their programming stays topical for at least 48 hours even when it’s current events stuff. Other things stay topical for years.mandl

In terms of music radio I used to adore Mark and Lard. They’d play chart music, even if they hated it, but I liked the music and their odd presenting style.

What if there was a streaming service that could intelligently learn what I liked and put together radio-style programming for the user on demand?

It wouldn’t affect the way programmes were made in any negative way I can see. If anything it would allow a little more flexibility.

News programmes/bulletins could be recorded throughout the day and provided to subscribers at whatever interval they chose.

Different moods could be defined that would learn what the user liked at different times of day or for different tasks. Work might be mostly music, for example, whereas talk could take higher priority during household chores.

All the content that’s being produced at the moment could just be repurposed to fit into this kind of model. Some people love to listen to sports on the radio, others have a passing interest, others still, such as myself, care more about the regional paint drying championships than sport. This kind of service could cater to the individual rather than forcing one kind of programming or another.

There’s also the fact that unlike the old days storing digital audio is now trivial. Huge archives of material could be created without taking up much space at all and as long as it was suitably tagged it could still be relevant years later.

So for example a documentary I listened to recently was called “Grease Was Our World” (download link). It’s rather good, I recommend it. The thing being though it’s still going to be relevant in ten years, quite possibly much more. It first aired on Christmas Day 2012.

If we assume that the file was then tagged with its original air date and some sort of rough time frame for when it should be “relevance reviewed” next then it could pretty much sit in the documentary archive without needing any further attention. I imagine it’d also be tagged with things like “musicals”, “theatre”, “Chicago”, and similar terms.

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The listener’s stream would then pick it up assuming their preferences matched some of the tags. If they listened to it all the way through its rating would go up and if they skipped it it would go down. Nothing world changing in that.

Hell, if a suitable description existed for each programme then a program could be written further down the line to provide a voice synthesised introduction for the programme. It’d just have to be built to parse the information provided and cross reference it with other information available elsewhere.

Perhaps one day I’ll design such a service myself but I would imagine by the time I have that sort of skill it’ll already exist. The race is on, I suppose.

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