Today I explored some of the extra items to the left of the rhythmbox GUI. I use it because it supports all my tunes and I can create playlists out of fairly complex search criteria. It also automatically detects new songs as I rip them into the directories I’ve told it contain my music library. There are really only two features I’d like to have that don’t exist at the moment. Firstly, I want to be able to random play only songs that have been played less than, greater to or equal to a certain number, or a range. I believe this feature is coming in a new release. The other feature I’d like is for it to automatically downgrade the rating assigned to a song if I skip to another track before, say, 30 seconds of the song has played. Then I wouldn’t have to manually rate each song. A minor quibble.
For some reason I’d never really looked at the Radio source before. I may have glanced at it and then moved on. Today I decided to give it a go. I expected it to have issues with the firewalls and web proxies that currently protect me from the Big Bad Intarweb. It must have used the global Gnome settings for what the web proxy is, because after a short delay, music from a server somewhere out in the world started sending me music. Amazing.
Really, I mean, just a few short years ago I jumped on the MP3 bandwagon. I’ve sinced moved on to Ogg Vorbis/FLAC, but the whole idea of being able to store music on my PC at a reasonable storage size that could be played back at reasonable quality just blew my mind. A digital jukebox. I was late to the party by a year or so, but it just hit me that this was right up there with email for seriously cool uses of computers. The idea of being able to download a song in less than several days over bandwidth that is reasonably affordable was very attractive.
And now I’ve found the perfect alternative to the pitiful state of free-to-air radio in my area. The public radio stations are just a bit too ‘alternative’ for my tastes, since they have to cater for a much broader range of tastes, so they play a lot of stuff I like, and a lot of stuff I don’t. The commercial stations tend to play stuff I either don’t like, or that I like, but I’ve heard it several hundred times since it was written back in 1973, or severeal hundred times since it was released 3 weeks ago. And those are just the ads. Then there are the in-between stations that used to be ‘alternative’, but played mostly stuff I liked, but have gone pseudo commercial for some strange reason. Triple-J, I’m looking at you.
Hurrah for internet radio! Not only are there hundreds, nay thousands, of specialised stations out there, the default ones that are listed in rhythmbox are pretty damn fine! I’m currently grooving along to Goove Salad from SomaFM at http://www.somafm.com/groovesalad.pls. Sort of a gentle house feel overall. I’m discovering artists I never would have heard of otherwise, and all from a genre that I want to listen to right now.
Free clue to the music cartels: Do this yourselves. Why just pay huge amounts to FM radio music directors so they put Nickelback’s latest abortion on high rotation? Why not create your own radio station online where you can hear nothing but Photograph 24 hours a day? Better yet, why not create a music channel for each genre of stuff in your back catalog and start getting people to hear the other stuff on the album that wouldn’t ordinarily get radio play? Nothing But B: The B-side only radio channel. 5SAD FM: All Depressing, All The Time. I went and bought a whole heap of U2’s back catalog because a friend played me Lemon from Zooropa. Make it easy for them to find the song currently playing (listed on your website under the channel name, perhaps), click on it and buy a copy. Or the album it comes from. Think Amazon’s “Stuff like this” idea. “People who bought this song by Radiohead also liked The Pixies.” There’s a whole marketing opportunity out there that’s eluding them.
Or maybe an internet radio station could do this themselves by teaming up with Amazon or iTunes or whatever. Maybe they already are.
I’m going to go back to listening to something I definitely never would have heard otherwise.