Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Who are you calling a Slacker?!

There's been speculation around what Broadband Instruments is (doing), and now we know. Tomorrow Slacker will be officially unveiled, but Billboard has got the details a few hours early.

Top Execs To Launch Slacker Inc.: "Dennis Mudd, former CEO of digital jukebox software company MusicMatch, is chief executive of the new venture, which up to now has been quietly operating under the name Broadband Instruments. Jim Cady, the onetime head of MP3 player manufacturer Rio Digital Audio, is president, and Jonathan Sasse, the ex-CEO of MP3 maker iRiver America, is VP of marketing.

In conjunction with the launch, the company tomorrow is bowing an Internet radio service at slacker.com that allows for the creation of personalized stations.

Later this year, the company will introduce a line of WiFi-enabled handheld portable players that can wirelessly access and sync Slacker radio programming via home networks, PCs, and public hot spots."

There's more information when you follow the link above. I'm not sure, but it sounds like they have cut direct deals with the labels for "interactive radio" (as opposed to being covered by the standard DMCA compulsory license). If that's the case, then it seems that all of they swirl around the new Copyright Royalty Board's new royalty rates probably don't affect them.

This is essentially "radio to go", and is a ad-supported model (with a premium ad-free service). Later in the year they plan on rolling a true on-demand subscription service, as well as dedicated wi-fi enabled hardware.
I'll definitely check it out, although I'm worried they are trying to do too much. On a related note, I saw the Zing-powered Sansa Connect (WiFi portable player) at the Digital Music Forum a couple of weeks ago and it is very slick. It is suppossed to be hitting the market later this month with a "yet-to-be-named" subscription service (safe money is on Rhapsody).

Now I just need to move somewhere with city-wide WiFi.....

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