When the whole idea of web radio started floating around, it seemed like a remarkably brilliant idea. The web had already made the printed word accessible to the masses, giving anyone the ability to make their works avilable to the world. The idea of extending this paradigm to music, and perhaps even video, seemed romantic and outlandish, science fiction made real.
And then came the blog.
Oddly, the blog has become the epitome of everything I love and hate about the Internet. On the one hand, it’s a wonderful paradigm for personal communication, making it simple and easy for anyone to make their written works available to the world. On the other hand, the blog made us realize something: most people have little interesting to say, and/or they lack the basic writing skills necessary to say it. The end result is that, despite immense potential, the blog has, for the most part, turned into merely a simple way for friends to communicate amongst each other.
By the way, in case you were wondering, everything I just said is true of this little place. But I digress…
So after seeing how the blog has evolved, I was quite skeptical of web radio. After all, if blog content is so uninspiring, why would putting radio in the hands of the masses be any different? Well, for the most part, I don’t think it is any different. However, there are some real gems out there, and one of them, which I find myself listening to more or less constantly right now, is SomaFM. SomaFM is one of the oldest, most popular web radio stations out there, as of this writing offering 11 different channels covering a variety of different genres, my personal favorite being Indie Pop Rocks.
What I love about Soma is that it’s clearly run by people who love music, and more, importantly, have good taste. As a result, I end up hearing from bands that I would never hear otherwise, without having to wade through the long tail that is the indie music scene. It’s also a nice break if you happen to be sick of the music you already own.
Related to this, I also installed MythStream on my MythTV frontend, which is a nice module for playing back streaming video and audio within the context of MythTV. The result? I can listen to SomaFM from the comfort of my own livingroom at the touch of a few buttons.
Of course, just as I start listening to Soma, I discover that the US copyright board, in their infinite wisdom, has cranked the licensing fees for web broadcasters such that Soma will need to raise upwards of 1 million dollars in order to stay in operation. Thanks a lot, assholes.
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