Fuzz Wants to be Online Radio by the People, for the People

You know somewhere between Pandora’s steady, old reliable model, Spotify’s have it all, take it anywhere incredible features, and various other stations like SHOUTcast covering some of the most obscure music out there, I guess I once felt content saying that the world of internet radio is pretty well covered.

And yet it seems like there is at least one more site out there that thinks that there is still fresh ground to tread in that particular field by catering to this wild idea that instead of a computer algorithm generating music selection, perhaps it would be preferable for human beings to take a stab at it.

That site is called Fuzz and, if you let them, they’d very much like to rock/rap/alternative/classical your world.

How? Well the entire site is made up of user created stations. Members can upload their personal music and create a radio station set to a theme of the music selection, with the built in system mixing the music together for you. Examples include the standards like classic rock or 90’s hip hop, but a quick search reveals more specific stations like classical dinner music or trendy sushi bar.  A band search option is available to get you started, but the general idea is to start with music you are familiar with, and expand your interests, and favorite playlists, based on people who like those same bands or songs other available selections. It’s an idea that is automatically handled by computers on other sites, but Fuzz treats it much more like each user is the DJ to their own mix, complete with custom station names, backdrops, and comment and feedback features.

The creator of the site, Jeff Yasuda, has tooled around the internet radio scene for a while, and he and his team simply feel that it is more fun, and rewarding, for people to share music with people and not machines. It’s an idea that was encouraged by Yasuda’s other music app Blip.Fm, which allows people to play the music they’re listening to via Twitter and Facebook. The quiet success of that app has instilled Yasuda with the belief that a site that expands that idea into a full radio station could be a hit. Although, he is certainly aware of the long shot that any internet station is, as he reveals via a cryptic quote in an interview with Bloomberg.com when speaking of the internet radio industry:

“The space is crowded and the graveyard is long, deep and wide,”

So how is the site? While I’m personally still inclined to default to Spotify or Pandora for a kickback and let it play listening experience, Fuzz is infinitely more entertaining to just explore, whether it be for new music, or just to see what obscure and awesome stations people dream up. Though the battle for success, much less supremacy, is one that hasn’t even begun, to me it is indisputable that the basic idea behind Fuzz is a winner. Yasuda and co. are right in their idea that it is much more fun to put people in charge of a music selection, and the difference give Fuzz a personality in its beta stage that even the larger, and more established, stations don’t share.

In fact, even if Fuzz doesn’t take off, it’s that idea that I love, and which I hope ultimately influences other stations to implement something similar. Although, as so many other things in the tech business have proven, sometimes all it really does take is a good idea, and the proper amount of momentum to make it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I may have to make a station featuring the music of Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, and the soundtrack to the video game “Earthbound.

  

Pandora audience keeps growing

We’ve seen Pandora set up partnerships with many of the auto OEMs, so this recent news on the growth of Pandora isn’t surprising.

His baby, the Pandora personalized online radio service, has more than 125 million registered users, a huge jump from 75 million at the same time last year. Pandora has expanded its reach into the car, with 16 alliances — including new ones with Kia and Acura — compared with four car companies this time last year.

Monthly listening, on average per user, is now at 18 hours, and shares of its stock are up 21% this year.

Coming off a successful $2.6 billion IPO in 2011, Pandora founder Westergren says the company is at the “tipping point” of expanding beyond the early adopters into a service that he says will one day be utilized by billions of consumers.

Once they can expand beyond the US, expect growth to accelerate.

  

Pandora One Gets Desktop 2.0

Pandora One desktop client.Today Pandora announced the release of a new desktop client for all Pandora One users to download. If you don’t know, Pandora One is the paid version of the popular Pandora online radio service that compiles playlists based on the style of a selected song, artist, or genre.

Along with your ad-free, desktop music listening experience, the Pandora One client update adds some features that were definitely missing from the older version. Among those features is listening history, which allows you to see what you’ve been listening to for the past hour. You also get a progress bar for the currently playing track, faster song transitions for your downvotes and skips, and track info on system tray hover for you Windows types.

One of the features I like the most is persistent placement/volume settings. No more fiddling around with settings when you open the app. It remembers where you placed it on your desktop and the last volume setting. Set and forget is a lovely thing, especially if its something you fire up at the office first thing in the morning.

You can read the full announcement over at the Pandora blog.