SIN wave

Streaming audio services

The advent of digital internet streaming music makes it possible for anyone to easily & inexpensively reach a world wide audience. Traditional over-the-air broadcasting would require expensive licensing contracts and regulatory hurdles just to broadcast a single station to a local audience. Today you have amateur DJ's or larger multi-channel operators who streams every conceivable musical genre. Operators can have unique content channels, or integrate existing stations (like a directory), or have a combination of both. Services such as "Radio IO", and "Soma" have several dozen customized feeds, while "Live 365", "AccuRadio", & "iTunes", have hundreds of stations to choose from. I highly recommend “SHOUTcast radio" and "TuneIn" because of the shear number of available stations. Their station selection includes a lot of the smaller boutique stations (like SOMA) but also offer thousands of broadcast stations from around the world. I have also found "Radio 365" to offer very interesting stuff and worth the VIP charge.

Note that even your built-in media player (Windows media player, Real player, Winamp etc.) have hundreds of pre-tuned stations available for your listening pleasure. Another recent options are small browser plugins that create a small radio button on the menu bar within your browser. They are free and have many stations to choose from, but realize they will add other features to your menus not so desired.

An interesting enhanced ability allows users to create personalized stations predicated upon the specific type of music you request. The user picks a selection of musical artists, and a computer algorithms creates a personalized play list for that individual user. This type of streaming is not multi-cast, but is delivered only to a specific user. The heavy weight in that category is Pandora, although AccuRadio and Slacker offer this service (AccuRadio claims to have a more human approach) and the huge Spotify service who just opened operations in the U.S. An interesting ability of these types of services allows the listener to skip a song. If the user does not like a particular song, a button click will immediately proceed to the next song on the play list (Wow, if only broadcast radio could do that!). This is a burgeoning industry so there are sure to be winners and losers. Competition usually creates a better product, so it looks like great things are happening.

Not all audio quality is the same. Streaming audio can have different quality levels, which usually range from 32, 48, 96, 128 or more Bits Per Second (bps). Most services are free (with minimal ads) or offer premium membership that precludes any commercial interuptions.

I think the best innovation for listening is the internet radio. Lets face it, sitting at a computer is not the ideal situation for listening to music! WiFi radios connect to your home WiFi which gives you full access to all the offerings of the internet. Since they are wireless, they can be located anywhere in the house including your night stand. There are various brands, but I recommend the
Logitech Squeezebox Radio, Boombox, or wireless Music Player. Note: The "Music Player" attaches to your existing music system.

The other trend setting technology just becoming available is the car internet radio, and there is already "Pandora ready" car stereos on the market. At the present, anyone can listen with their current car radio and connect their Bluetooth smartphone to downstream real-time audio. That means any internet stream will play with your current car radio if you have Bluetooth or a mini phono plug cable connection. Sirius Radio take note!

The internet has opened huge opportunities to listen to music from sources around the world. From College broadcasters to basement DJ’s, everyone has the ability to stream music, which is the best possible world for the listener. Sorry Clear Channel Communications, forget the mandatory national playlist. The world is going digital and streaming music is leading the way to a revolutionary new paradigm for listening and purchasing music. Music availability is now as varied as the numerous listeners around the world.
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