As you may or may not have already suspected, TV is not the only traditionally offline medium using the internet as a new form of content delivery. Radio too is being turned on its head. You may remember Geoff's article last month about the internet era shifting our television consumption habits.
Much like TV, traditional radio's shift is a direct result of technological convergence.
The formatting and use of content, supported by digitisation, allows for audio content to be presented on different platforms in different ways. It's a emerging delivery method and this powerful changing extends our listening experience.
What the Experts Say
"It's a ripe moment for radio," said Jake Shapiro, the director PRX, an online exchange for public radio stations. "Several trends are converging: digital audio production tools are cheap and accessible; new distribution paths like streaming, satellite radio, digital broadcast radio, wireless and 'podcasting' are emerging."
According to consulting firm Deloitte's 2006 Media Predictions, "The business model for radio is primed for significant change with less reliance on advertising dollars." If you're a traditional radio station, this is probably a bit of a worry, but if you're a consumer who hates listening to ads, it will be welcome news.
What's driving the change?
With the help of convergence and internet technology, media corporations can now easily distribute audio content at almost no cost - so there's no real need for advertising dollars.
The effectiveness of the radio advertising paradigm has shifted. It's no longer about the number of listeners during a particular time slot, it's more about the number of people the radio content is reaching over various platforms.
And there's also a massive variety of platforms available that allow listeners to stream their favourite radio programs right to their desktops.
Pandora - a box you'll like opening
Take Pandora for example. Pandora is a "music discovery service," which was designed with the intension of helping music listeners find more music they love.
Visitors simply go to www.pandora.com and type in the name of their favourite artist. Pandora then launches a streaming radio station on the user's desktop that further explores music similar to the genre of the specified artist. By providing feedback on whether you like a song or not, Pandora learns your habits, as well as adding to its intelligence engine so that it can recommend more effectively for other people with similar tastes. Knowing what you like is worth big dollars to Pandora, whether it be through advertising products or helping new artists get established - no more interuptive adverts for products you don't need.
Unlike actually actively downloading music to your computer, Pandora does all the work without the worry of mistakenly downloading viruses or spyware. And what's really cool is that users can easily skip from song to song if they don't like a particular song the radio service chooses.
A similar alternative to Pandora's active recommendation system is internet or streaming radio. Adopted by many traditional radio stations, this method allows people to receive high quality stero feeds from radio stations through the internet. For news junkies working back after 6pm, we highly recommend ABC's PM program!
Importantly, however, you don't need to have a traditional radio licence to create an internet radio station - Windows Media Player, iTunes and Winamp all have integrated browsers that make it easy to see what's playing out on the internet. Just look for a link like "Radio" or "Streaming" in your current media player (the thing that fires up when you put a CD in your computer), or download a better player from Winamp.com.
Radio Exchanges - an online bazaar for tunes
Then there is PRX, the Public Radio Exchange, a web-based marketplace for public radio pieces where radio programmers can find content from other radio stations, independent producers or international broadcasters. PRX even has a completely searchable database and allows the general audiences to listen to anything available in the database.
Podcasting - take your tunes with you
But perhaps the biggest upheaval to the classic radio station format is podcasting