Ya gotta respect people that continue to push the copyright envelope. We can thank them for so many things that we take for granted today (e.g., MP3s, DVRs, Slingbox, etc.). OnRad.io is another one of those technologies. Michael Robertson of MP3.com fame is behind this venture. They are basically indexing online music streams and allowing visitors to play them through their site. They claim to scan about 100,000 stations in under 100ms. (Note that some of the stations are non-US.) Here’s their press release.
OnRad.io’s view is it isn’t infringing copyright rules because when someone clicks on a song, they are taken directly to the radio station playing the song. It doesn’t host any files itself. I suspect the companies streaming the music will have a different view and OnRad.io must be bracing for the barrage of lawsuits undoubtedly coming. It is kind of like Tunein.com, but instead of selecting radio stations you pick specific songs.
When you visit OnRad.io, you are presented with a sample of currently playing songs. Click on one and it plays and a list of other songs that may interest you are shown. Note that when it plays it will not be at the start of the song. In fact, the song may be over and something else will play. You stay on the station that the song was playing. Some song lists appear to be dynamic and update while other content will get stale quickly. The song-playing bar at the bottom generally updates with the current song playing.
I actually like the experience. It is not unlike listening to the radio and scanning stations for something you like. The difference is that you scan a list of songs so your search is not random.
There are iOS and Android apps as well. I found navigating through the app is a little odd. Swiping down shows the genres. Swiping up shows other songs by the current artist. Tapping on the song/artist name brings up a list of similar songs/artists.
I think OnRad.io’s downfall will be that although they are playing “public” streams, you never leave the OnRadio page. They are linking to copyrighted material. Is it fair use? I dunno. It will be interesting to see what happens when this gets tested in court. If you think about the economics, once OnRad.io starts monetizing with ads (there are none now), they will be making money on content they aren’t paying for. It seems to me that the courts try very hard and walk a fine line to find some reason things like this aren’t legal–Aereo found that out the hard way. But until then, check out OnRad.io.