Personalised online radio is hitting the Big Time
I have not stepped into a Tesco store for six years. I honestly cannot remember the obviously rational reason at the time for this. Anyway, the store and brand is out of bounds in our household. This stance is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain as Tesco’s tentacles spread far and wide beyond groceries in today’s brand content carrying world of media and consumerism.
This is why my attention was piqued at this week’s announcement that Tesco have bought We7, the online radio station co-founded by Peter Gabriel. As with the likes of Spotify and Last.fm, listeners can create their own personalised online radio (POR) listening experience from a library of 11 million songs. The ad-funded model is simple and attractive to people like me because it’s free.
I downloaded We7 this morning and immediately typed in Peter Gabriel and got presented with an array of playlist options. You can build a personal repertoire based on whether you give songs a ‘thumbs up’ or a ‘thumbs down’ – if the former, then the song gets added as an influence to ‘My radio’. It played Mercy Street. I liked it. The appeal of personalised online radio is obvious.
But it is not radio. Radio’s strengths as a medium centres on its relationship between the presenter and listener. It is still the social medium. But the audio landscape is more complex now with multiple Internet-delivered catch-up or on-demand services. People thought the iPod would kill radio. It didn’t. And nor will POR, but it will grow. Nine in ten of the UK adult population listen to live broadcast radio in an average week, and this figure has not changed for a decade.
Now, I should really delete the We7 app if I am to maintain my anti-Tesco stance. But I don’t think I will.