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Quick Hits: Internet radio’s history; the threat of Amazon; the future of podcasting

Brief news items and worthy reads from around the web:

A short history of Internet radio: James Careless of RadioWorld posted an entertaining and informative historical review of internet radio. Celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the RadioNet technology column, the article starts with the earliest experiments — Internet Talk Radio in 1993 and WXYC, Chapel Hill, in 1994. The author addresses an access problem which limited the audience for internet radio in those days: “At first, the pioneers solved this problem by creating their own individual “media players,” which listeners had to download and install on their own computers to tune in online. The downside is that you could end up using five different players to tune into your five favorite stations, which was hardly practical.” That’s an interesting call-out to today’s app universe, in which a listener might download individual apps for favorite stations, mimicking the 1990s, or use an aggregating app like iHeartRadio or TuneIn. The article takes a delightful turn down memory lane with a description and photo of Kerbango, one of the first stand-alone internet radio “receivers.”

Does Amazon’s music service threaten Spotify?: Brad Moon of InvestorPlace sees a more definite threat: “Amazon music streaming will end Spotify.” That’s a catchy and dramatic hook, but the author’s point is more broad — he thinks that the music services of three giant tech companies (Amazon, Apple, and Google) have overwhelming built-in advantages that will, over time, make it increasingly difficult for independents to thrive. The inherent economics of streaming music are unfavorable, giving favor to companies which don’t need to make a profit from the music portion of their sprawling product ecosystems. “The streaming music business is not for the faint of heart.”

Podcasting — the future of journalism?: So said Jane Huxley, Managing Director of Pandora in Australia and New Zealand, when she spoke at Mumbrella 2016. “No one really wants to read an article for 20 minutes,” said Huxley. “But they are willing to listen to a serialised version of true, long-form investigative journalism.” She might have been speaking about Serial, which is exclusively streamed on Pandora, of This American Life, which has a similar arrangement. the Australian conference also featured Grant Blackley, CEO of Southern Cross Austereo, the continent’s largest radio group, who noted there was a “land race” in the Aussie podcasting space, and predicted a short tail of 10 podcasts whose audiences would exceed the rest of the market.

Brad Hill

One Comment

  1. I’ve been in Information Technology since 1990. I have to say, internet radio did not exist back in the early 90s. this article is wrong!

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