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urRadio, a new streaming startup, puts broadcasting in a music service

urRadio screen 01 250wurRadio, a new streaming startup launched this morning, is based on technology that uniquely blends music discovery and broadcasting.

“We’re changing how people listen to music by combining music with live broadcasting. urRadio integrates a live social and music application into one,” CEO Tyler François told RAIN News in a pre-launch phone call.

The company is hinging its differentiation on what it calls Live Social Radio. It works by integrating an online broadcasting function with playlist-building and original content. Live Social Radio can be used as a feature within the music service, or as a stand-alone function which streams any source of audio from an individual to any number of listeners.

In addition to chatting and following, each a more standard social interaction combined with music, urRadio allows live, streaming playlist sharing. A user can create a playlist and live-share (broadcast) it in real-time to followers. The streams are exactly synchronized, whether shared with two people or thousands. urRadio is like Internet radio listening that goes both ways — to the station creator, and outward to the creator’s followers.

In concept, urRadio’s innovation is a unique enhancement of standard playlist sharing, which typically allows users to see what their friends are listening to, and access the station (as in Pandora) or playlist (as in Spotify). That type of sharing is un-synchronized; each listener moves through the music independently. urRadio behaves more like a pureplay online radio station, where listeners join a stream in progress, everyone listening to the same thing at the same time.

urRadio logoTo emphasize the radio-emulating function, users can insert live voice breaks (e.g. dedications, or song announcements) on the fly. That feature makes urRadio potentially appealing to DJs and wannabe DJs.

One difference from DJ’ing, though, is how much control the user has over the music. urRadio operates as a non-interactive, statutory music service. Those legal terms mean that urRadio pays for its 30-million-song catalog through SoundExchange webcast licensing, as Pandora does. As such, users do not have the level of on-demand library access they would in an interactive music service like Spotify — that would require direct negotiation with labels for content licenses. Going the statutory webcasting route allows urRadio to leap into the market with an appealing, arguably unique feature set.

Playlists are dynamically created based on artists or songs. However, once a playlist is built by the system, the user can enter a Draft mode to rearrange song order, as long as it’s compliant with webcasting regulations. For example, playing an entire artist album cannot be done. The system polices the rules automatically, protecting the user (and, more important legally, the service) from making a mistake.

Users can deploy imagination in how urRadio’s broadcasting platform is used. Live programming can completely take over playlist programming — for example, a band could shout out to fans that it will broadcast a live rehearsal. Tyler François told us he expects users to create all-talk programming.

urRadio is available now in Android and iOS app stores. The app is free, and so is the service in what is a full, public beta launch.

Brad Hill

3 Comments

  1. This is not new. Fradio released something similar two weeks ago, and Radical.FM released something better two years ago. Spreaker has offered a simple voice component for some time, but lacked legal music content, and so they’ve largely shifted focus to podcasting. But Radical conceived the whole concept of live-sharing personal streams years ago, and even applied for a patent for our TALK feature (unlikely to be defensible, anyway we prefer to compete with quality as opposed to lawyers).

    But technically Radical was not ready for primetime back then, and neither Fradio nor urRadio are ready for primetime today. As a result of a less-than-perfect user experience Radical pulled our bleeding-edge service and went back to the lab. But clearly, when done right, the concept represents the future of all radio consumption.

    Radical spent the last two years re-engineering TALK and RadCasting from the ground up, and we are nearly done. When Radical re-releases TALK this year our service will be ready for primetime. Then you will see traditional broadcast radio leap into the Internet Age.

    From the HotSeat,
    Tom McAlevey, CEO Radical.FM

    • Thank you Tom, that’s interesting. We did cover Fradio last week when it was released, and I discussed the similarities with the urRadio folks. I greatly look forward to knowing more about Radical’s re-release of TALK.

  2. Thanks for the post. I’ve been looking for something like this. We put on an annual 5K event and in the past we’ve had volunteers with mobile speakers around the event playing different types of music. We think it would add to the event and sound much better for all of the speakers to play a playlist of synchronized music. Even if the runners are playing the music from their phones it would be great if they wanted to play the event’s synchronized music. And to be able insert live voice breaks would be a plus.

    So I just quickly tested the UrRadio app on an Android phone and an iPad, both logged in under the same account. I was able to quickly and easily create a set and add songs. As I started the music, first on the Android and then on the iPad, I noticed there were a few quick glitches or delays as, I’m assuming, one or the other was trying to catch up to the synchronized music. When both started playing the music fluently, they were ‘very close’ to being synchronized, but not ‘exactly’ synchronized. The Android was a split second faster than the iPad. I even paused the Android and let iPad play on, and then started playback again on the Android. The Android quickly caught up to the point in the song where the iPad was playing but then the Android continued to play a split second faster than the iPad. I also tried using the Android on cellular signal while leaving the iPad on WiFi.

    This would not be a problem if the speakers were not close together. But I imagine two runners side by side or in passing with the music playing unsynchronized. Or another example… we have golf cart drivers playing music while riding along with the runners which near the end of the race the golf carts gather on either sides of the finish line. If they are all playing music unsynchronized it wouldn’t sound very pleasant.

    Just wanted to give my real world example of how something like this is ALMOST perfect. I plan on testing it further, like maybe all on iOS devices instead of across platforms. I also haven’t checked yet to see how to add locally stored songs to the playlist or how to insert voice breaks. I will also look into Radical.FM and Fradio next. But for now, does anyone know of any type of support forum for UrRadio?

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