Internet Radio

After working at a real broadcast radio station, it’s hard to feel quite so positively about internet radio taking over the way we listen to music. It is of course incredibly easy to access, and gives you the ability to choose what you’re listening to without having to change the station, but sometimes I think the new digital age gives us too much control and not enough variety. 

There are a lot of choices out there, from Spotify to Pandora to iHeartRadio. These three have become some of the most popular choices for Internet radio, and all of them offer you slightly different ways to enjoy your favorite music. In essence though, these websites and applications have the same appeal: the user is in control.

Internet radio has a lot of benefits, that is undeniable. But while it’s convenient and easy-to-use, I’m afraid that by giving users too much control you’re losing what’s most important about radio, hearing new music you would never find on your own.

Broadcast radio is about exploring music, new styles, a whole new sound. Having DJ personalities that you come to know and love, and trusting them to play you something totally different that you’ll love. Internet radio is so popular because we’re not stuck listening to three stations playing commercials at the same time, or even worse playing the same songs at the same time. 

Broadcast radio has become a pretty generic place, something that drives us to the Internet even further. One of the only places you can find that true radio feel is on independent stations. If that feeling could be brought back to the bigger stations, I think Internet radio could become less appealing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think that using digital media like Internet radio is great for a lot of reasons, but I think it also poses a threat to some of the “magic” of radio. I think it’s fantastic that we have growing access to music without having to do things like illegally download our entire music libraries, but then we’re lose out on that excitement of hearing a new song or talk show we love driving down the highway. 

It’s definitely an exciting time in the digital world and the way we find our music, but I just hope that with Internet radio we don’t lose what makes discovering new music over the airwaves so exciting. 

 

Netflix and Internet TV

Today, when I think about wanting to watch my favorite shows, the idea of catching the latest episode on broadcast television is entirely unappealing. Enter Netflix, a company whose focus over the years has shifted from DVD rental by mail to instant streaming of digital video.

Netflix has changed millions of viewers television experience, allowing you to have access to your shows and movies whenever you want to watch them. Why wait each week for the next episode when you can watch entire seasons back to back on your own time?

Netflix lets the viewer be more interactive in their experience, an important feature in forms of new media. (Manovich, 2002) We get to add things to our instant queue, choose when to watch our shows, give them a rating that everyone can see, etc. All of these things make Netflix all the more attractive to the viewer.

It is also an excellent example of the way that media has changed even over the last ten years. Netflix’s original purpose when founded in 1997 was to provide DVD rental without late fees like other companies that existed at the time. Now, 16 years later, their main focus has shifted to digital streaming almost entirely. The move towards digital access to everything has become the norm for most media in the US, and Netflix is following the trend.

Netflix service has another feature that is key in new media, which is the ability to customize, or more their ability to track your behavior and cater to your interests. (Manovich, 2002) Like the banner ads that pop up on our Facebook newsfeeds, Netflix can track your watching habits and suggest other things you might like.

This move into a more customized experience can be viewed as both creepy and innovative. Whether this tactic is effective only time will tell, but for a company like Netflix the more shows they can convince to you instant queue, the better.

Manovich, Lev. (2002). The Language of New Media. Massachusets: Leonardo Books