Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Satellite Radio vs. Commercial Radio: How Will the Radio Wars Pan Out?

The other day I had to borrow my dad's car to drive to work because my Focus had a flat. My usual commute of flipping between a dozen or so channels on commercial radio was transformed to flipping between hundreds of channels on his satellite radio.

While commercial radio may be gradually on its way out, here's why satellite radio may not be the saviour that many hope it will be:

Most people want to listen to what they want, when they want it. And satellite, despite the plethora of channels, still can't quite accomplish that, while commercial radio plays too many mainstream songs and too many brutal commercials.

Once somebody develops a personalized radio medium, satellite and commercial radios will be blown out of the air.

So what do I mean by personalized radio?

Well, think about what an ipod has done for music-- you pick the songs, you play them as you want, you have control of your music on a gadget the size of a credit card.

Now think about Comcast Rhapsody-- it's an internet-based program offered by Comcast (and certainly there are others just like it), that plays music based on your favorite bands. You put in a list of bands that you like and this player will play music from those bands as well as music that is similar to those bands.

Combine these two and you get the best of both worlds-- music that you know you like, and music that you may not have known you like because you never heard it before (but is similar to music you like), with the flexibility to hit one button to find the next song... not a hundred buttons to get to the station that's playing a good song at the moment, or having to wait for a lame commercial to end to hear the next song. Plus you're never jumping in at the middle of the song, and hey, you can repeat the song 19 times if you so desire.

That's music for my ears.

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