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Radical.FM Launches Streaming Music Service in U.S. with iOS App

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Radical.FM today launched an iOS app that apparently both introduces the full service to the U.S. but also represents a bit of a relaunch from last year's open beta. However the basic concept of web radio that one can fine-tune via genres or get more granular with song picks remains the same. Radical.FM also remains ad-free and listener-supported.

Radical.FM launched in public beta last year and got a bit of extra attention from being based in Sweden, the land of Spotify, and going for a listener-supported revenue model. They also emphasized the involvement of human curators with a background in radio.

The 2012 edition, powered by an HTML5 player, also seemed to be trying to build users stations and encourage indie music upload. The new iOS app appears to focus entirely on the listening experience.

From today's announcement:

Key Features of the Radical.FM iOS App

“User-defined “Custom Genres" that can access 30 second previews of songs for curation. Once a Custom Genre contains 30 songs or more, it can be added to a station where the full-length song versions will be played."

“The ability to 'Tune' Personal Stations using intuitive sliders to adjust the values of active genres relative to one-another, and to easily add more genres at any time."

“An industry-unique feature that allows users not only to block songs or entire artists' catalogues but to retrieve them to active rotation later via the Unblock feature."

“A wide range of interactive options for the user from a simple, intuitive lean-back experience, enabled by a few clicks to the most immersive, customizable online radio service ever offered via “Custom Genres.""

“An 'open-source' wiki that combines the expertise of music radio programming professionals with concrete feedback and requests of active users."

I checked out the app for a bit and found it easy to get into a listening mode however it felt a bit awkward to have to start making decisions and go either broadstroke with genres or really specific with songs.

At this point I find myself more drawn in when initial listening options use my Facebook friends for an initial playlist. The combination of ease and immediate variety makes that a preferential system for me.

I bring that up because even in the last year there's been so much development in music streaming that basic processes will strongly impact who gets the listeners. Since I don't have any industry research on which form of onboarding leads to greater adoption, I can't say which is preferable, but I'm struck by how much the landscape has changed even in the last year.

So, though I don't think my personal response is any kind of deciding indicator, it's clear that with a landscape that has only gotten more crowded, Radical.FM's future will depend on how it addresses those changes for listeners


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