Streaming radio over cell phones was the holy grail for small broadcasters even when I helped launch xpn.org back in the late ’90s. With cheaper-every-week access and tools like mobile ShoutCast, if you don’t like your local stations, you can tune in to a niche-caster, like WFUV, KEXP, WOXY or RadioIO.
There are two things that have kept streaming radio from breaking through in the U.S.:
1. Localism. The main reason folks tune in to the radio is still to hear local weather and local traffic. Music may have been homogenized across the country, but even Clear Channel has invested heavily in making radio sound local and getting those critical updates on the air.
2. Size. Radio works now because radios are small. They go everywhere. You can’t jog with an XM Radio. There’s no broadband jack in your car.
It took about 2-3 years for the camera-phone phenomenon to take fire in the states. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes another 2-3 years for cell carriers to find a way to make a radio offering that makes sense.
How does this affect you as an independent musician?
When you identify your perfect audience, you should aim to be their entertainment of choice, no matter how they like to get it delivered. If your fans are already gadget-heads, identify ways you can meet their needs: ring tones, MP3s for their phones, stuff for their Treos. If your fans aren’t gadget-heads now — give them a few years…
[ via BuzzMachine ]