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Michael “MR” Robertson
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5 Reasons Why NextRadio Makes No Sense

You probably haven't heard of NextRadio in spite of many in the radio industry thinking it is the industry savior. It's a smartphone app for listening to FM radio on your phone. Now you may be thinking you already have such an app, but this one is different. The audio signal comes over the FM frequency so it doesn't use much data on your phone. Some in the radio industry are pinning their future on this technology, but it seems fatally flawed to me and here's why. 

1) Today's consumer expects unlimited choices. NextRadio (when it works) lets people listen just to the tiny number FM stations in the geographic area they currently reside in. A different era is upon us where people demand choices - not what is OKed by the FCC for listening in their area. There are great mobile apps that give access to  nearly every station in the world with amazing search capability like http://bit.ly/XiaaLive (Android) and http://bit.ly/SongBot (iOS) and the kingpin Tunein.

2) NextRadio only works with certain phones that have a FM chip. No Apple phones have it and most Android phones don't either - even the really expensive ones like Nexus 5. It's not something that can be added because it is an actual chip inside the phone.

3) NextRadio only works if you have plugged in wired headphones. If you use bluetooth headphones or just want to use your phone's speakers it is impossible. 

4) The quality of NextRadio stations are only as good as the FM signal. Forget perfect digital clarity, you'll be back to static and dropouts familiar on your father's old car radio. 

5) Except for minimal bandwidth used by the phone, there's no benefit to the consumer. You can't rewind/skip songs. There's no ability to create custom channels. If it works you'll be stuck with the very limited stations in your area. It turns a $300 smartphone into a 1980s style $20 radio. 

Rather than embrace the IP world we are now in where everything that can be digitized will be delivered via the net, old school radio people are pushing technology trying to recapture an era that is slipping away. An era where they had a government protected monopoly which largely insulated them from competition meaning they could generate big profits. Today they must compete with the vast entertainment choices available on the internet. Embracing internet delivered experiences is how they will remain relevant and a thriving industry and NextRadio doesn't do that. 
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Why I'm Glad Net Neutrality Is Dead

I think it's a positive development that network neutrality is blown up. Fewer government rules equals more freedom and ultimately a more efficient, balanced and competitive landscape. 

Part of capitalism is a constant struggle between manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Each party strives to get the largest portion of the revenues for themselves. Each uses their leverage to push the other parties to charge the lowest prices possible. This drives ever-increasing efficiencies meaning lower prices or more value or both. It's the primary reason capitalism is ever improving our lives and why people today live better than those 10-25-50 years ago. It's why 80% of "poor" Americans have phones, TVs, refrigerators and most own a car and live in houses bigger than anywhere else on the planet. 

This battle between companies can be brutal to watch as players get squeezed and change is forced. A recent example is Directv and the Weather channel. Currently Directv pays The Weather Channel 12 cents a month for their channel. Viewership has dropped from 300,000 daily viewers to 200,000 so Directv wants to cut the rate to 9 cents a month. The Weather Channel is demanding a 1 cent raise to 13 cents a month saying they have expanded their content to include realty programming. Until its resolved the Weather Channel has been removed from the lineup replaced by a new channel Weather Nation. Is Weather Channel worth 12 cents a month? The tug-o-war of capitalism will determine this. If Directv is wrong customers will complain and they'll capitulate and pay the fees. If people don't care about the Weather Channel then Directv's cheaper replacement will suffice and The Weather Channel will be forced to make more compelling programming or accept a lower fee. 

These economic negotiations are commonplace in every industry with participants exercising their leverage. To get a movie carried in a theater may require conceding to stiff financial demands unless it's a popular movie in which case the theater owner may keep as little as 10% of the ticket price. To get a product carried in a commerce catalog typically requires buying advertising. Want your product on Shark Tank? You'll need to agree to give up 10% of your company just for the privilege of being on the show.

Similar dynamics play out for net companies. When Facebook saw Zynga making large revenues in their gaming business on the Facebook platform, they demanded and got 30%. Apple requires app vendors to pay them 30% commission. Google charges companies to be on their network. A good example is Google's shopping comparison service where only vendors who pay are displayed. 

Horror stories are painted about what will happen without network neutrality. Fred Wilson writes about how startups won't be able to get investment monies. I find this analysis illogical. ISPs won't target poor startups to extract fees from. Instead they'll go after those making the big dollars like Google, Facebook and eBay. Each of these companies require those using their systems to pay fees. Listing a product on eBay requires a fee. Sending a notice to all those in your network on Facebook requires a fee. Getting your message out to Google's users often means a payment. Nobody seems to recognize the striking parallels of these net giants charging for usage of their network but resists others who ask for the same rights. These net giants have done a masterful job of using startups and economically unsophisticated egalitarians as defenders of this lopsided policy. 

Understand that network neutrality is about money not the sympathetic cause you might hear about in the press. Nobody is blocking people from getting to .gov websites to apply for welfare or jobless benefits. Neither will it strangle innovation or prevent startup from raising money or flourishing. (I do net startups like DAR.fm and RadioSearchEngine right now so I know and care about this.)

These corporate battles play a vital role in capitalism by fostering partnerships or competitors, increasing efficiencies, and balancing profits. It's undeniable that Google is tremendously powerful. Some are already calling for government regulations to limit Google. That would be unnecessary if competition is allowed to operate unimpeded. Other corporations will demand payment from Google. If they get it, they may use those monies to back a competitor. If they do not get monies they'll be highly motivated to fund and promote an alternative. That alternative must be sufficiently good or consumers will revolt. Such is the natural balance of competition. Just ask the people at The Weather Channel.

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CES14
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CES14
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AOL Abruptly Shutters SHOUTCast - Stranded Licensees Invited To Use Superior UberStations 

AOL publicly announced the closure of Winamp and SHOUTCast on December 20th, but for SHOUTCast licensees, their station directory stopped functioning today December 5th rendering all apps and services utilizing this directory useless. DAR.fm is making its comprehensive guide of stations known as UberStations immediately available to all SHOUTCast licensees. 

"Hundreds of developers rely on SHOUTCast and popular app developers such as TuneMark on iOS and Xiaa Live on Android told us SHOUTCast was shut down this morning rendering their apps useless." says DAR.fm CEO Michael Robertson "We immediately opened our UberStations directory so developers can switch over and continue to offer their services and not have to do customer refunds." 

UberStations is a global online directory of free radio stations which includes AM/FM stations, Icecast stations, SHOUTcast stations and thousands more. It's the same directory used for the DVR for radio service DAR.fm and RadioSearchEngine.com which means it receives thousands of updates from the community and DAR.fm. For most stations it includes a wide range of data including genre, location, audio format and programming data.

UberStations brings several advancements to the online radio lacking in first generation providers like SHOUTCast. A geo-targeting feature enabling listeners to easily locate nearby stations making a local experience possible. Currently playing artist and songs are tracked in real-time for music stations. Listeners can search for their favorite song or artist playing anywhere in the world and play it. See web example at: radiosearchengine.com/search/Katy-Perry-Roar and radiosearchengine.com/search/Led-Zeppelin. Genres are also supported like radiosearchengine.com/search/christmas or radiosearchengine.com/search/country

UberStations has more than 50,000 tested and reliable stations with genre, logos, broadcast schedule, now playing date and geographic location. Documentation for the UberStations API is available at bit.ly/UberStations Signup is free for developers for a limited time. See the API in use at UberStations.com and RadioSearchEngine.com
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2013-12-05
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RadioSearchEngine.com is the world's first radio search engine. There are other directories of A-Z lists of radio stations, but this is the first search engine where any song or artist can be located on stations playing from anywhere in the world. A universal web player for the first time connects to and plays nearly every station offering immediate audio satisfaction and unprecedented user control.

Uses:
   radiosearchengine.com - Play local stations, locate trending songs and popular shows
   radiosearchengine.com/search/metallica - Get a list every Metallica song playing on radio
   radiosearchengine.com/search/katy-perry-roar - List all stations playing Katy Perry's Roar
   radiosearchengine.com/search/beatles - Listen to any Beatles song being broadcast
   radiosearchengine.com/search/chill - Find a list of songs playing on top chill stations
   radiosearchengine.com/search/country - Find a list of songs playing on top country stations

Every popular radio hit is just a click away. Charts track the most played songs broadcast on radio in popular genres all of which are playable. A growing number of internet only stations makes every style of music from the billboard hits to the most eclectic easily locatable and playable. Tens of thousands of stations are scanned every 3-5 seconds to get the currently playing song. This index is used to construct a real-time library of ever changing music on the radio all of which searchable. Search for songs, artists, station names, genres, talk shows or podcasts. It's the biggest single audio library of popular content. 

Listeners are presented with an array of listening options that invite users to move smoothly between a no effort radio experience or a near demand experience. When a song is played additional tunes playing on radio by that artist are listed and playable. A recommendation engine identifies 20 similar songs likely of interest. A chart ranks other popular songs in that genre. A traditional skip button advances to a new related song. Together these options allow listeners to fine tune their audio experience from hands-off radio to playing just old favorites or new hits. Unlike other radio services there's no limit on fast forwarding plus users can search for and play specific songs.

A beta version of RadioSearchEngine is available immediately to all users. An overview video is available atyoutube.com/watch?v=wOghdIribhw. More information about the service can be found at RadioSearchEngine.com. 

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YouTube has every song.
They also have many many complete albums too. See this example: Radiohead - Kid A (Full Album) It's Radiohead's full album of Kid A.

The uploader has helpfully chronicled the growth in plays:

100,000 views = 11/18/2012
200,000 views = 12/31/2012
300,000 views = 2/6/2013
400,000 views = 3/13/2013
500,000 views = 4/14/2013
600,000 views = 5/16/2013
700,000 views = 6/15/2013
800,000 views = 7/11/2013
900,000 views = 8/5/2013
1,000,000 views = 8/27/2013

I'll add 1.3 million = 10/28/13 so the pace is accelerating as people learn YouTube has albums. And this isn't an isolated example. 

Note the recommendations on the right - besides every Radiohead album there's full albums from : Modest Mouse, Massive Attack, The Smiths, etc. 

Youtube is going to be launching a $10/month music service before the end of the year. Why would someone be inclined to make this purchase when the entire library of music is one click away for free? 

Either Google must add more value to Youtube which will be challenging because the current offering is so comprehensive OR they'll have to cripple the current service by removing albums, adding lots of ads, etc. Can they force people into a subscription service? I don't think so. 

Going to be interesting to watch. 

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UberStations A New and Better Way To Listen To Net Radio With 3 Industry Innovations

- See in real-time what's playing on thousands of stations to identify what's of most interest
- Jump between thousands of stations in one uniform web browser experience
- Recommendation engine scans 1000s of AM/FM stations directing listeners to music and talk

Radio is an amazing library of audio, but without a guide it has been a black box with only a tiny peephole for listeners to peer into. UberStations is a new way to listen to net radio stations and since most AM/FM stations now broadcast online it's a new way to experience AM/FM. There's a comprehensive guide to radio showing listeners what's playing across the entire radio spectrum. An intuitive player displays and plays every station with a single click. Finally a recommendation engine steers people to music or shows of interest 

For the first time thousands of music and talk stations are monitored in real-time at UberStations. Users can see what songs are playing on stations in their area and see instantly when songs change with a pleasing fade in-and-out display. For talk stations users see what shows are playing. By default users are shown stations in their local region, but they can also search for stations in other areas and monitor what is playing in those areas.

Clicking a station plays the stream in a web browser. In an industry first, both MP3 and AAC stations stream directly into the browser using HTML5 with a Flash fallback providing a universal player for all popular radio stations. The uniform web experience is ideal for PCs and tablets. 

When users select a song or show to listen to, a recommendation engine searches music and shows playing on other AM/FM stations. Up to 20 other stations which may be of interest are displayed along with what is current on those stations. UberStations is ideal for both music fans and talk fans. Music listeners can request an unlimited number of recommendations until they find something of interest to listen to. Those selecting a sports, politics, or public radio show will see other related talk shows on at that time they can listen to. 

"Remember when you had to scan through each TV channel to find something to listen to because there was no interactive guide? That's how radio still is today, but UberStations changes that by giving users a comprehensive real-time guide to songs and shows that are playing across the entire radio world all of which play in a uniform experience." says Michael Robertson. 

Watch a short overview video about what makes UberStations notable at: Overview of UberStations

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Jason Calacanis wrote a thought provoking and revealing article entitles "I ain't gonna work on Youtube's Farm No More". In it he reveals the economics around YouTube's economic relationships with its content partners. His hypothesis is that Youtubes take is too large to make it viable for the content partners. In addition YouTube owns and controls the customer relationship not the content owner. This middleman extracts too much of the value. He suggests moving to other services like Twitter or Instragram however I think that just postpones the pain. Eventually those companies will commandeer the customer much like YouTube does. 

Remember when the experts recommended building your web presence on Facebook? Companies big and small blanketed the world with Facebook icons and Like buttons. Then one day Facebook decided that it owned all the friends on a Facebook page and to send them a message would require a payment to them. There were howls of protest from Mark Cuban and many others. 

Business is tough and companies will always battle for the largest share of the economic pie they can achieve. Small companies must adeptly leverage those companies offering free or low cost services, but must also be cognizant they must strive to build a direct relationship otherwise they'll always be working on someone else's farm. 

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Jason Calacanis wrote a thought provoking and revealing article entitles "I ain't gonna work on Youtube's Farm No More". In it he reveals the economics around YouTube's economic relationships with its content partners. His hypothesis is that Youtubes take is too large to make it viable for the content partners. In addition YouTube owns and controls the customer relationship not the content owner. This middleman extracts too much of the value. He suggests moving to other services like Twitter or Instragram however I think that just postpones the pain. Eventually those companies will commandeer the customer much like YouTube does. 

Remember when the experts recommended building your web presence on Facebook? Companies big and small blanketed the world with Facebook icons and Like buttons. Then one day Facebook decided that it owned all the friends on a Facebook page and to send them a message would require a payment to them. There were howls of protest from Mark Cuban and many others. 

Business is tough and companies will always battle for the largest share of the economic pie they can achieve. Small companies must adeptly leverage those companies offering free or low cost services, but must also be cognizant they must strive to build a direct relationship otherwise they'll always be working on someone else's farm. 
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