Rolling Stone Announces "Radio" at WebNoize

Internet audio continues to expand. Last week, at the first WebNoize conference, held in Los Angeles, JamTV/Rolling Stone Network and RealNetworks, Inc. announced the debut of Rolling Stone Radio, a new Internet audio service offering music in several genres. Rock star David Bowie announced that he would serve as a disc jockey for the new venture. Amazon.com has also signed on to participate as a music retailer.

Rolling Stone Radio combines advertising, electronic commerce, and user-interactive features---such as accessing biographical information about favorite artists---by incorporating RealNetworks Radio Toolkit, a software program with G2 streaming technology. Executives hope that Rolling Stone Radio will "revolutionize the way fans discover new music on the web," as JamTV chairman Howard Tullman put it. He expects that the combination of RealNetwork's "ground-breaking audio quality" and Rolling Stone's massive artist-and-repertoire archives will be hugely successful in a market niche that may soon become glutted.

One of the new service's most useful features is the onscreen display of song title and artist, which users can click on to access tour schedules, biographies, videos, photos, and discographies. Playlists of various genres---including Guitar Rock, Pop Hits, R&B, Country, Classic Rock, Electronica, Hip-Hop, and Dance Hits---can be affected by listeners making use of an "instant vote" feature. Tracks getting large numbers of votes will earn more frequent play. Jann Wenner, publisher of Rolling Stone, called the new venture "a natural extension of the magazine . . . it marries radio and the interactivity of the Internet, giving music fans an exciting new way to listen, discover, decide, rate, discuss, and buy it immediately if they love it."

Instant gratification is one of Rolling Stone Radio's big draws. With a few mouse clicks, listeners can buy a disc while listening to it. RSR's streaming audio, delivered via RealSystem G2 SureStream, is said to "seamlessly deliver multiple stream rates of music without audio interruption due to re-buffering and net congestion."

David Bowie has not yet appeared as a Rolling Stone Radio DJ. He will come on later, presumably after initial bugs have been worked out. "My first playlist will include favorite songs from the last five decades," he said. "I'm hoping the world will tune in and join me."

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