REVIEW: 6 Seconds launches, turning global radio into a streaming jukebox

6 seconds 02Serial entrepreneur and disruptor Michael Robertson has launched 6 Seconds, a mobile listening app that turns radio (broadcast and pureplay) into a searchable jukebox experience. The app is launched as a product of, Robertson’s radio technology company, and is available on Android and iOS.

6 Seconds provides on-demand access to songs playing on radio in real time. Based on technology developed for Robertson’s Radio Search Engine web app, 6 Seconds offers a personalized stream based on song, artist, or genre. The music is sourced by a search engine that near-instantly scans over 100,000 radio station streams.

When searching for a song, the app finds stations that are just starting that song spin. In our beta testing leading up to launch, we found the app to be remarkably nimble and accurate. The launch PR claims that most popular songs start playing within six seconds (get it?) of the song start. Michael Robertson told RAIN News that in some cases the app enters a stream a few seconds before the target song starts.

When searching for an artist that isn’t in play at that moment, 6 Seconds delivers a list of stations “likely to play it soon,” based on having played that musician and similar artists. So, for example, in a recent test, the artist Sting was apparently not much in rotation, and the app gave us stations currently playing Simply Red, Art of Noise, Bryan Adams, Modjo, and others.

6 seconds 01The mobile-only 6 Seconds uses an agile, swipe-friendly user interface. Song-skipping is supported, and accomplished with a swipe anywhere on the uncluttered screen. Other directional swipes bring up the search field and a radio-genre list which can also be used to start the music playing.

Song skips are unlimited. In truth, each is a skip to another station, playing a different (and related) song. Unlimited skips have no royalty obligation to 6 Seconds, because the audio sources are entirely furnished by other music licensors — terrestrial and pureplay webcasts.

6 Seconds is being positioned as an alternative to Pandora, differentiated by the unlimited skips (Pandora limits to six skips per station-hour). But in our experience with both 6 Seconds and its cousin, the web-only Radio Search Engine, the experience is farther removed from Pandora than just accommodating a restless skip finger. As a discovery environment, 6 Seconds goes beyond music discovery to station discovery.

Again and again we found ourselves becoming drawn into the flow of a station and bookmarking it for later. The scope is global — a bit of searching and swiping exposes stations from all over the world. When a station is playing it can be “starred,” which saves it to a Favorites list, leading to a personalized global radio dial. (Songs can be starred and faved, too.)

Michael Robertson previewed 6 Seconds at RAIN Summit West, in the Streaming Audio’s Startup Economy showcase, and was one of four early-stage companies which won a selection contest before the Summit.

Brad Hill