Soundz.fm is a new Slovak startup that provides you with (quoting their slogan) “Listening to the radio, new school style.”
They provide list of radios you can add to your account and listen to via Flash player. If you don’t like the song playing on radio X, you can quickly switch to a different radio station to listen to different track. Multiple radio stations are good concept, but you still have to switch to a different station manually via Soundz.fm web application.
I have been thinking about how to improve Soundz.fm to attract more listeners, how to personalize it and how to automate track switching. I am going to describe my ideas on how to make Soundz.fm better. I haven’t spoken to Soundz.fm developers, maybe they had thought about ideas described below before I had. Since I really loved and had been a big fan of Pandora, a free internet radio, I have been thinking on how to implant Pandora spirit and features into Soundz.fm (Pandora is now available only to US-located visitors).
Build a long list of radio stations
Adding radio stations manually is pain in the ass and with increasing number of users this task becomes unmanageable. One option is to make a spider that uses Google search and Yahoo Site Explorer to find out radio stations and online streaming playlists. Allow community to help and add new radio stations instantly (e.g. allow user to add radio station’s URL and enable it to him only until administrator verifies it and allows it for everybody). Get as many as you can, this will be important (see point no. 3).
Let users build a list of their favourite tracks
Currently, users can favourite a song playing on one of the selected radio stations. Allow them to build a list of their favourite artists, albums and tracks even before they listen to one of the radios. Ask them for their username at Last.fm (or Pandora) and import their listening history automatically. Optionally, allow users to enter their favourite artists and songs manually.
Change the concept: one personalized radio station
Instead of offering a list of multiple radios, create a one personalized radio station that plays only the music the user loves. Based on their preferences (known history of favourite tracks from Last.fm/Pandora or entered manually) loop over long list of radio stations and find what tracks are currently being played over the world. More stations you have in your database, easier to find a matching track – the track popular with the user.
Automate radio/track switching
Think about algorithm that changes songs playing based on the user preferences automatically in the background. Since by this point you will have a huge database of radio stations all over the world, scan through the all songs currently played and find one user likes. If you have more than one favourite song, that’s even better. When the currently played song ends, switch to a different radio with a favorite song playing, try to find the song that have had just started to play, so you don’t fade in a song that finishes soon. Create auto fade-out/fade-in mix, so the music will play uninterrupted even at the time when songs are being switched.
Since the Pandora have had shutdown for the rest of us (not the US, though), Soundz.fm can take it position as the global free online music radio. There are thousands of regular and online radio stations all over the world playing music 24/7/365. If Soundz.fm will have huge enough database of radios, it can easily play only music that users love to them. Every minute there must be some song on the air that user likes – based on their listening history, popular artists, albums and songs and similar artists, albums and songs (Last.fm has a great API that could help in this regard).
I hope the Soundz.fm developers will find some inspiration in my ideas above. I am sharing them with everyone, so you can add your two cents.
PS: If you belong to Soundz.fm and want to hear more opinions and ideas (re monetization as well), feel free to contact me.