Imagine a service where you could select your favourite radio programming from around the world, have it recorded for you, and then provided in a format you can load onto a portable player for you to listen to when you want. Wouldn’t that guarantee more fresh and exciting listening than you get even with 10,000 pre-selected songs in your pocket? That is the direction that the AudioFeast service is heading.
You can take a 15-day free trial of the service — as long as you have player that runs Windows Media Player (i.e. not an iPod) — and then it costs $49.95 a year. I’m not sure if the service works outside the US (as a Mac user, I can’t test it).
There are important rights-related limitations on the AudioFeast service. The service description explains,
Programs are available for listening anytime and anyplace, however, subscribers may not presume ownership of any content. AudioFeast programs are refreshed after each publisher has aired and/or produced their latest edition. Publication frequency will vary amongst the content providers within the AudioFeast library.
In other words, if you want the latest edition of a programme on your player, you will have to allow the previous edition to be deleted. The range of online stations available at the moment is also less than comprehensive.
But it’s still a handy idea.
Meanwhile, sadly, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is once more trying to roll back the developments that increase access and convenience for listeners, according to this Music Industry News Network article. They want the US government to require “broadcast flags” on streaming digital content to gain control over what hardware devices can play the music.
By the way, perhaps you think that I’m missing the point that similar services already exist for TV with TiVo and suchlike? Possibly, but I have a prejudice against TV because its consumption is so inflexible: large screens fix you on the couch; small screens are unsatisfying and can’t be used when you’re crossing the road or driving in the way that audio can.