Over at the New York Times, Saul Hansell has written a post about online music based around an interview with the CEO of Tivoli Audio, which has been building radios that can connect over WiFi to internet radio stations. Hansell contends that internet radio will be the dominant form of digital music, ahead of downloads and "lots of other ways" to listen. It's an interesting argument, particularly when it's juxtaposed against the backdrop of a floundering terrestrial radio business and the struggles of satellite radio. It's also one that's likely to create a lot of pushback from download devotees, such as Hansell's first commenter, who chimes in with "keep your hands off my music." Sure, the freedom from restrictive playlists that do-it-yourself digital music offers is powerful, and terrestrial radio may not be particularly satisfying for many people, but it's important to realize that the term "radio" takes on a much broader meaning online than it does in the terrestrial broadcast context. There's still a lot of room for curated musical experiences -- which used to solely be the domain of broadcast DJs -- whether it's in the form of human-programmed streams, algorithmically or genre-based channels, podcasts, MP3 blogs or even social-network recommendations. And, as Hansell points out, there's a real convenience factor at play as well. What online radio offers is the ability to take many of traditional radio's good aspects, like convenience and exposure to new music, while doing away with the aspects that turn off so many listeners, whether it's annoying DJs, too many ads, or the wrong choice of music. It then takes these aspects, puts them in different formats, and expands them across tens of thousands of different kinds of music. So while the traditional idea of "radio" may be struggling a bit, its online evolution will keep going strong.
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