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Slacker personalized radio service takes aim at online music

Slacker, Inc. has recently announced the creation of “Personal Radio,” which enables U.S. consumers to customize their own radio stations and listen to them wherever they happen to be. The Slacker Personal Radio is available in beta for PC streaming at and later this year on Slacker Portable Radio Players via Wi-Fi and Slacker Satellite Car Kits.

Slacker says it has millions of songs with the breadth and depth increasing continuously. The extensive Slacker music library is organized into numerous professionally programmed genre and sub-genre stations and over 10,000 stations that are built around specific artists. Personalization options available to customers include adjusting stations to play more popular vs. more eclectic music, newer vs. older music, or even to play more tracks that the customer has tagged as favorites. Other features include:

  • Log in from any PC or Mac to hear personalized stations in CD quality
  • Playback through web player, jukebox software and portable devices
  • Create stations by combining favorite artists
  • Select favorite tracks/artists to play more often and ban other tracks/artists
  • Click through album cover art, band profiles, reviews and artist photos
  • Easily share stations

Slacker has acquired rights from content owners, including SONY BMG, Universal Music Group and hundreds of independent labels. The service offers Wi-Fi and satellite music distribution, as well as what they call ‘DJ intelligence’ embedded in portable players. Slacker states that customers can now “play highly personalized, continuously refreshed radio stations everywhere they go”.

The following comments were attributed to Dennis Mudd, CEO of Slacker: “Personalized radio is a great way to listen to the music you love without having to work at it. The only problem is that until now, personalized radio has been stuck on the PC. Slacker solves that problem. Now you can just kick back and listen.”

The reason Slacker may become a rival for the iPod/iTunes is that the forthcoming Slacker Personal Radio Players will enable music lovers to play personalized radio everywhere they go. The new devices include integrated Wi-Fi and an on-board Slacker DJ. The company says that the Slacker DJ combined with the new Slacker caching system guarantees personalized CD quality radio stations to be played everywhere, even when not in Wi-Fi range. Slacker customers get deep, personalized radio stations with optimized radio programming sequences, continuously refreshed and updated to include personalized new music.

Additional Slacker device features include:

  • 4″ full screen display featuring album art /reviews, artist photos/bios and visualizations
  • Support for MP3, WMA and video as well as “saved” radio tracks
  • Automatically save and refresh personalized stations via Wi-Fi, Satellite or USB

Slacker is currently in discussions with selected partners to provide Slacker Personal Radio through a broader range of devices in the future. In the second half of 2007, Slacker device owners in the U.S. will have the option to purchase Slacker Satellite Car Kits that update the Personal Radio Player with new content through a breakthrough satellite broadcast system. Slacker car-top antennas receive high-speed music feeds from satellites throughout the continental United States, while the integrated Slacker DJ ensures favorite stations stay current.

Slacker Basic Radio is advertising funded and will remain free to use on Slacker software and portable Slacker Personal Radio Players, while Slacker Premium Radio will launch later in Q2 2007 at $7.50 per month.

Slacker premium service offers no advertising, unlimited skipping, and the ability to save radio tracks to a library.

The free beta Slacker Personal Radio service is available now at Slacker Premium Radio will be available in Q2 2007 and Slacker portable devices in early summer.

Industry experts said that the offering was likely to prove attractive to customers. “They’re leveraging multiple distribution channels, so they won’t be just satellite radio and they’re not quite an online music provider either,” Susan Kevorkian, of the IT analyst firm IDC, said. Slacker describes itself as the world’s first Personal Radio company. This hybrid of mp3 player and radio service is something of a step beyond the ‘personalization through massive product variety’ approach used by online music services.

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One Response to “Slacker personalized radio service takes aim at online music”

  1. Marko Mäkipää Says:

    Personal radio

    In Finland we have had a personalizable internet-radio operating for a few years already. Zoice is a personal radio that customizes the music according to personal preferences. It uses learning algorithms to adapt the music according to taste of user. More the user gives feedback of like or dislike of some song, better the system can match the user profile to other users and to different kinds of music. However, each user gets his/her individual radio feed, as user can choose never again to hear some song.

    The service language is in Finnish, but it plays international music.

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