Tired of hearing ads on Pandora, and no interest in subscribing to Spotify? Then you might be the right target audience for Radical.fm, a streaming service that just relaunched with a new personalized broadcasting model.
Radical.fm comes without any ads, and doesn’t charge subscription fees, instead hoping for listeners to donate, someting that the company’s CEO Tom McAlevey compared to public radio in a recent interview. “Ads are always annoying,” he said.
This isn’t the first time McAlevey has tried to reinvent radio. In the Nineties, he launched first a radio station in Stockholm, and then an internet radio service called Tomsradio in 2000. Over the last four years, McAlevey has tried to position Radical.fm as a competitor to Pandora. Along the way, the company struggled with technical problems, he admitted.
But now, McAlevey feels like it’s ready — and different enough from its bigger competitors to make a dent. At the center of Radical.fm is a personalized broadcast model the startup calls “Radcasting.”
The idea: Anyone can compile a Pandora-like personalized radio stream by selecting genres and favoring songs, and then broadcast that stream publicly to others. Users can’t actually select individual songs to a Spotify-like playlist, but there are a lot of mechanisms to tweak a station, including the ability to exclude songs or even entire artists.
During a brief demo this week, Radical.fm felt a bit cluttered and at times confusing, but the live broadcast does enable interesting types of interaction: Listeners get to hear a broadcast in real-time and can even chat with a broadcaster, which makes a Radcast feel a lot more social than your typical online radio stream.