by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
mobile, music, voice calls

orange uk, universal

New Mobile Music Service Works Via Voice Calls

from the well,-that's-different... dept

There are a bunch of different mobile music services out there (and more popping up every day). Some involve getting downloads to your phone, and others involve streaming (and, of course, there are things like ringtones and ringbacktones for specific functions). But Music Ally points us to a new service launched with Orange UK (and Universal Music) that will let users dial a voice call to hear some music. Basically, you call into an IVR system, and get a variety of options on what playlist you want to listen to. There's some functionality where you can set up your own playlist on a computer, and then access it via the IVR. Of course, the service is quite limited, especially in that it only has Universal Music music right now. The article describes the service as "free" but also targeting "pay as you go" customers, which makes me wonder if people are paying for those voice "minutes" that they'd use (which could add up). Perhaps I'm missing something? I also would think the very limited selection is an issue. Still, it's fascinating to see someone try such an experiment to get around some of the other barriers -- especially for folks with lower-end phones that don't have all the bells and whistles and app stores of higher end phones.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    garfalk, Jul 29th, 2009 @ 8:39pm

    not the first actually,

    they might be giants had/have a 'dial a song' thing, where you call in to a phone number, and it's a different song every day i think. true, this is a much broader system, despite being limited, but it's not the first.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Nozai, Jul 29th, 2009 @ 9:48pm

    Re: not the first actually,

    I'm so happy you're giving TMBG props here...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    yourrealname (profile), Jul 29th, 2009 @ 10:32pm


    There's also a similar service the radio station I work for uses. It's called Audio Now. It basically streams whatever is on the air to a phone number anyone can call (for free, if not a long distance call) and listen to on any phone (smart phone, cell, landline, VoIP, payphone, whatever). Doesn't cost the caller anything. It's basically the same thing as the live stream we have on our website, but this doesn't use our bandwidth. It has a delay of less than 60 secs to what is on the actual airwaves. This is great for companies that don't allow web streaming due to bandwidth issues. Call it and listen to us on your bluetooth or whatever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2009 @ 11:21pm

    chalk this up as a project that by definition can't ever reach critical mass. it's a tech service, which means it will have to break through via the geek crowd. yet, the geek crowd is never going to use such shitty quality sound, especially when most geeks have smartphones that access much better services.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 12:09am


    "it's a tech service, which means it will have to break through via the geek crowd"

    Not sure if I agree with this. It sounds more like a service aimed at people who want to listen to music but are either worried about the legality of downloads, don't want to pay iTunes prices or are too clueless to work out how to operate their computer/phone. Why would anyone tech-savvy pay £10/month for streaming when there's so many free options?

    I doubt "geeks" would touch this with a barge pole, especially with Spotify and many other web radio apps being available. It'll be the tech-clueless and those who haven't bought smartphones - not "geeks" by any stretch of the imagination.

    I also wonder how much life is really in this service. Surely, using voice calls will shorten battery life considerably and make people miss calls whenever their voice line is tied up with music streaming? I know I wouldn't be happy for paying for such a service...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 2:33am

    Because 32kbps is the only way I want to listen to music!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Jake, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 5:50am

    In case you're wondering, 'pay as you go' is the British term for pre-pay cellphone plans; you pay cash for a voucher and input its serial number to an automated hotline, and you have that sum of money to spend on calls and texts.
    According to the article, so long as you buy £10's worth of credit every month, which comes to about eight to ten hours of talktime to another mobile on the same network, you get free unlimited access to it and three hundred free text messages. That's a good enough deal that I might be prepared to put up with the poor fidelity; after all, a mobile phone speaker really isn't all that much worse than the headphones bundled with most MP3 players.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Designerfx (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 5:52am


    as the AC #6 comment says, the quality will be horrendous for music. For talk shows, it makes sense. However, most cellphone speakers don't have any bass (they aren't intended to - they're intended for voice listening, after all) and the quality is a bit lower bitrate than people can listen to on internet radio.

    so it "works", it's just horrendously lower than radio quality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Steve Carl, Aug 6th, 2009 @ 6:57pm

    Re: Audionow

    I think this is the best thing that has happened to talk and news radio. Music is for Iphones and Ipods but any phone can hear talk radio or sports on Audionow on voice lines. The geek factor misses the point. Music radio is dying having lost to Ipods. Talk radio works better on a voice line and sorry to say but most of the world has regular phones! This is brilliant reinvention of radio.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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