The best case scenario for FM radio (when you would finally find something that you could tolerate) was 1 hour. 1 hour of variety to stave off bordem and try to save your sanity. The effective range of the FM signal bubble was around 75 miles/120km. If you were unlucky 'Seek/Scan' button would be broken on the radio. Most radios in company supplied trucks were very shitty.
MY favorite times would be at night and manually adjusting the AM reception and picking up stations from all over the world. Trying to discern their location based on the commercials.
Sat. radio offered me consistency. It was wholly replaced once I discovered that audiobooks could be downloaded (and not cumbersome audio-cassettes).
Then as the years passed the variety on the stations offered diminished to the point that it seemed like they were playing the same 5-6 over & over again.
Mergers happened. Personal audio players got better.
I could download enough books to keep me entertained for a month AND have music playlists that saved my sanity.
So I cancelled.
I STILL miss 'Spa Radio' channel73(?) when I am driving in hectic or tense traffic. That always enhanced my calm.
Having a pile of podcasts and audiobooks ready at hand makes long drives on ski trips much more tolerable to me... But I do keep the Sirius subscription around just for NPR and BBC...
Sadly, it appears they started firing the human DJs several years back -- see https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/02/10/will-firin... for an example.
Cellphone plan options in Canada are punitive and oppressive. Getting coverage in USA & Canada is painful.
When I was driving in the States, data-usage was measured in kB.
There were a couple changes they've made recently that made this make sense. One, all their car subscriptions now come with an app version. And two, they have a pretty cool Web UI (https://player.siriusxm.com) where you can listen to any channel live or experiment with "Xtra" channels (it's a Pandora integration.)
My use case is that I work mostly from home and want something mindless to play in the background while I'm working. Spotify playlists quickly become repetitive. Sirius is "set it and forget it"--I have all the channels and Xtra channels I want in a grid on their website, and I have it up on a second monitor so I can just click on whatever channel I want.
I still miss Spotify on occasion, but if I want a specific song or artist I can just go to YouTube and stream it.
Having said all this, yesterday and today I've just been streaming long house mixes on YouTube. I wanted something a bit more upbeat than the Chill channel and I've heard all the songs on BPM. But I'm sure I'll be back to Sirius soon. :)
Also just a warning - SiriusXM doesn't just let you leave. They have some of the most aggressive "winback" salespeople in the business, and they will NEVER stop mailing you offers that look like something else, calling you, and emailing you offers once you manage to leave. Their skeevy tactics have put me off the company as a whole forever.
The worst are the ones in blank envelopes with no return address that look like they could be from a bank or something.
I have never subscribed to a streaming music service as I would rather purchase a song I like once and own it forever. So di.fm and several dance music artist shows keep new music coming in.
I have SiriusXM in the car and had it when it was just XM. I only listen to small number of channels and when I don't want to hear what's on any of them, I have an iPod Touch that I can use over Bluetooth to listen to purchased music, downloaded podcasts, and audiobooks.
I really wish Sirius would simulcast di.fm's channels just for the variety that they can't (and don't try to) compete with.
XM used to have a clever little device specifically designed for this use case -- the XM-PCR (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM_PCR). It was a little XM receiver that plugged into your PC and could be driven from there via client software. And the protocol for communicating with the device was pretty open, so hackers quickly put together really good native clients for Windows, OS X, Linux, etc. that were miles better than both XM's default client and their Web player.
It only lasted for a couple years, though, because those same hackers eventually figured out a way for clients to just rip every song that passed through the XM-PCR into high-bitrate MP3 files on your hard drive. So what went from a neat, hackable little device quickly turned into a music pirate's dream.
There was a gentleman's agreement for a while between the developers of the major clients not to take advantage of this capability, as they all knew that if it ever got exploited at scale XM would shut down the PCR and all their work would instantly be rendered worthless. But inevitably someone shipped a client with this "feature", and XM predictably stopped selling the PCR and remotely disabled all existing units. Boom, so ends a scene.
(Here's a contemporary story from Ars Technica with more detail on the shutdown: https://arstechnica.com/uncategorized/2004/08/4147-2/)
It was all too bad, as like I said, if your use case was playing music while you worked the PCR was a really cool little device. I suppose this is why we can't have nice things :-/
I will admit that I really like some of the programs. Business channel in particular is decent. Between interviews of Larry Summers and Madeline Albright it feels like a nice departure from BREAKING NEWS COVERAGE.
And I am saying it as a person who has audio books ready to go if traffic gets too heavy.
Now even Howard Stern hardly shows up and is doing puff piece shows with Hillary Clinton in between his reality TV nonsense.
I remember listening to one show and half the callers were truckers where it became a running joke.
There was a period of time where, after work, some friends and I would get together in one of our university's research labs to solder keyboards. It was always empty by then. We'd put on soma.fm and then get to work. Good times.
How so? If it had an FM tuner, you can use an inline modulator.
Also a fun little note - if you have a standalone radio with active service, then turn it off and stuff it in a box, cancel the service, and wait a few months or a year before pulling it back out, you'll have free service for the life of the radio. They stop sending the device specific kill codes after a while so it will just keep working.
I recently got into this as a hobby! Bought a cheap portable shortwave radio and every night this week I've sat outside or near the window to see how far away I could pick stuff up from. So far I've confirmed broadcasts from Romania, South Korea, Cuba, and a few across the US. It's usually just preachers or state propaganda, but just the hunt for new stations is half the fun!
It started when I was young and not tired enough to goto sleep. I had a decades-old transistor radio and would scroll through the dial using the smallest fractions of adjustment and hearing the world open to me.
Dark of night, speaker pressed to my ear so my parents wouldn't hear and yell at me. Languages I'd never heard before and had no way of knowing where they were.
Magical is the best way I can describe the experience.
The world became both small, and vast in the same moment.
I even considered buying it anyway since I like to go on trips to remote areas (fishing/camping) and can't rely on data for my phone for Spotify. In many rural places there is only a single radio station and even then it may be mostly static. But I found in those locations even Satellite reception was spotty, especially in the mountains or valleys I frequented.
Compared to top-40 FM radio, Sirius is amazing. It had its time. But comparing it to the internet with Youtube and Spotify (or Apple Music, etc.) just blows it away.
I moved furniture for a few years in my early 20s, and none of the trucks had working air conditioning. That was during a heat wave with 110 F heat, which translates to 120+ at the top of a trailer. The air conditioning should have worked at the very least to prevent a heat-exhaustion death.
Some things in life will never change, and those things well and truly are $#!@.
Music channels were outright weird and all of them played may be 20 songs again and again.
They had zero diversity of music. There are plenty of non-white, non-american born people in North America and yet they did not have any Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Punjabi channels.
The only problem with SoundCloud is that instead of following the Spotify model, i.e. get listeners to pay for listening, they could have done it the other way around: get makers pay some nominal fee for hosting. Which they kind of did in the beginning but gradually drifted towards the listener-subscription model. As a paid music hosting service they'd at least provide an alternative for specific class of artists, i.e. those who make music for the love of it and want to be heard via unofficial channels.
SC failed to become one. They've had some back and forth and experimentation with pricing and subscription models over the years but never settled at anything targeted clearly and unambiguously. The current offerings are confusing and inconvenient for all classes of users. There's now an all-time upload limit for non-paying makers, and ads for non-paying users. What's the point of this? Getting both makers and listeners pay you? Sounds like a poor plan to me, that leads to nowehere.
It doesn't work well and for obvious reasons.
If you're an indie producer, you don't necessarily have the money to keep paying for hosting indefinitely. Instead you want to upload your work somewhere where it will always be available, for free. Vimeo charges producers instead of consumers and they are struggling — if you have a commercial website that has to serve content from somewhere, then sure, it's a great deal, but not if you're a hobbyist.
By charging producers such services are basically shooting themselves in the foot — because if you don't attract producers, you won't get an audience either. Plus the ongoing costs (bandwidth and processing capacity) are generated by visitors and not producers.
This partially explains YouTube's success — as a producer you can just upload to YouTube, it doesn't cost you anything and YouTube brings you the audience ;-)
You don't have to pay for SoundCloud just "for storage". You can throw some MP3s up on S3 and call it a day. Paying the nominal $12/month for SoundCloud pro is storage, distribution, collections, analytics, embedding... on and on.
I thought the success of YouTube was largely due to their low bars for quality of content. Put simply, they allow all kinds of crap as long as it generates views.
Vimeo's model is quality content from indie producers, actually they are similar to SoundCloud in some ways.
Think about this: for example NASA has plenty of quality audio and video materials, where should they upload it? SoundCloud and Vimeo would be the best choice and it's what they do. It's quality content not exactly "publishable" via music labels or television, and yet it's pretty good.
Not everyone wants to be on the Internet's sewage system that's YouTube, and not everyone wants to go the costly publishing route. There has to be a niche for this type of media. I'm sure monetization can be figured out when there's clearly a market for it.
>Not everyone wants to be on the Internet's sewage system that's YouTube.
Yet basically everyone is. Content producers want to reach their audience, viewers want to find the content they care about.
Actually, Vimeo's first videos were uploaded a month before YouTube's.
Also NASA is on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/nasatelevision
I'm not saying that Vimeo doesn't have a market. But their market is quite small and it definitely isn't for hobbyists.
Not coincedentally, SoundCloud is run by a former Vimeo CEO.
It's the only music streaming service that takes discovery seriously, and it's the only one I use.
It’s refreshing to hear non-musicians actually use SoundCloud to listen to music, though.
Soundcloud is indeed great for mixes and sets. They have valuable and unique content, yet the product remains very barebones and lackluster. Poor audio quality (still 128 kbps MP3 I think?), no concept of tracklists/timestamps and most importantly your playback position and queue isn't persistent. This is crucial for a medium used to listen to hours long mixes - as a user I expect to be able to pause and pick up my currently playing set later, on any device.
The lack of this feature basically forces me to manage my playback queue in a different tool, like a note taking or todo app. I estimate that I have countless unfinished sets in my history that I simply forget to finish since once you close your browser window/app the content is basically off my radar. Imagine Netflix not saving your viewing progress - it's absurd.
I think Mixcloud is the much better product - it just lacks the vast amount of content (they are gettign there) and numbers of listeners unfortunately. They also have a sound business/pricing model - although that may indeed be a barrier to listener growth.
Mixcloud does a much better job at this.
The android app is horrible. They used to have 10-30 minutes of cache time, now they have 0. You go under a tunnel, on the tube, whatever, and your stream cuts out. Also lots of UI bugs. This might have gotten better but I wouldn't know as I am on an older version of the app and refuse to upgrade due to no more caching.
You have to pay to rewind stuff apparently (I do pay so have never been impacted here)
Search is horrible, even now.
Web has some major bugs like randomly reloading half the page when you scroll down your feed and click listen to something. Old app has some ridiculous UI bugs, can't comment on the newer ones though.
Mixcloud select may have been done with the best intentions, but it's just a bunk idea. Half of my feed is now "select" stuff I can't listen to. The idea is you pay the individual artist and get premium features. But the select costs a fair bit of money, a lot more than id be willing to pay. Effectively, even as a paying user I'm now being paywalled. They should have kept the stuff free and heavily integrated with patreon or done a tipping style platform.
Sorry for the long rant but I figure this is a chance to actually have someone from team mixcloud potentially read some actual feedback that they're probably sheltered from normally.
This is true. It is also the worst piece of hostile-UX I've ever seen. I'd love to have seen the Product Designer and Product Manager tie this one back to revenue forecasts. Who knows, maybe its a huge converter?
It just seems overly hostile to me, as if thats the only way they could think to increase revenue - instead of, you know, working on their core value proposition.
I've only lost one mix in my favorites in the past few years and that was the rare good mix I found consisting solely of popular rap.
Pretty much everything else I listen to on there is EDM and most of the time they are DJs uploading sets they played for money at huge festivals. I only lose those when the artist removes music to force people to listen to their new stuff. In those situations it makes an easy filter for who to unfollow since if the new stuff was any good they wouldn't need to remove the old stuff.
Fairly sure that was only applied to some locations.
But the only reason I use it more than soundcloud is because their app supports CarPlay. Soundcloud doesn't do that, which makes listening to it in my car much more difficult, even if the mixcloud app is pretty crap on-the-go.
Back in the day if you wanted to collab with another producer, vocalist, rapper, whatever, SoundCloud was the quick and dirty way of sharing audio ideas and files in the browser. For larger projects you used Dropbox.
Shame they tried to be internet radio and not a place and tool for content creators, like YouTube. They could have been the YouTube for audio, like podcasting.
Um, those things are not an issue for Spotify; Spotify's product is not meant to be used by creators like Soundcloud and definitely not even in the same ballpark as Dropbox.
It lets people listen for free, makes it easy to collect payments.
I feel like they’ve taken the “slow but pure” approach to product development. Not growing super fast, or chasing revenue, but just making sure the core feature works for artists who are truly independent, and carefully expanding from there.
I would pay for 320kbps streams tho (which I can get to be offline with youtube-dl).
It's got its niche for sure.
I’m already surprised SiriusXM is still somehow around, let alone that they have $75 million to invest in another company and not that they’re taking $75 million to stay afloat...
Sirius 2019: $7.8b in sales, $1.7b operating income
Spotify 2019: $6.7b in sales, -$73m operating income
Spotify's market cap is supported by a fantasy that one day, somehow, if they get big enough they might generate a real profit to support their Wile E. Coyote valuation (don't look down). So for example, if they get to $20 billion in sales (in another 10 years), maybe they'll spit off as much profit as Sirius does right now in exchange for a similar market cap.
6 or 7 paid subs sounds reasonable.
I read it that way as well right up until I read the rest of the comment where the last sentence made it clear.
Does not include subs I use for my business like GSuite, Freshbooks, Front, Zapier, Monday, etc.
We did not try to cheat with bitrate but I am confident that only 1/100000 users would actually notice any difference between 128kbit/s and anything higher.
Even going lower than 128, you would be surprised how low you need to go before it really becomes noticeable to end users.
I have Pandora Plus $5/month.
But I've also noticed the repetition on SXM but I've settled on 3-4 channels I like so I switch between them to combat staleness.
For others, it's a highly compelling service. I know people who subscribe just to listen to Howard Stern.
Almost all of them include between 3-12 months of free service (I think specific lines in Chrysler's lineup across brands are the only ones with 12, Alfa Romeo I know of specifically).
A lot of vehicles it's actually considered an "upgrade" to the stereo system and is only included with the more premium package.
A lot of people buying cars usually ask about it having Sirius or Satellite radio; they've been adding a lot of new shows and stations like comedians and they have a lot of sports. Their comedy channels are very similar to comedy podcasts and they've been growing this lineup. Having it all integrated into your vehicle without having to plug in your phone is still a big feature with older people and even some younger ones.
The SiriusXM sattelites are in an inclined eliptical orbit with the highes point being over the norther hemisphere. This is the so called Molniya orbit, named after the first Soviet sattelites using it:
(Soviet Union had a lot of territory in higher latitudes where geostationary sattelites do not work well & the Molniya orbit needs less energy to achieve.)
So in the SiriusXM case, the sattelite would be much too low to provide useful coverage when over the southern hemisphere. And even when. As for not covering EU/Asia - this could be due to either the highest point of the orbit being always over US (guessing there) or due to ground station coverage when the sattelite is not over US.
Satellite radio was tried a few times in other geographies, but only in North America did it succeed.  In 1999 Worldspace launched for EMEAI, and looks like it collapsed in 2008. MobaHo! was a mobile satellite digital audio/video broadcasting service in Japan whose services began on October 20, 2004, and ended on March 31, 2009.
Still pretty cool that one can receive digital radio without a directional antena from a satellite all the way up 36000 km in GEO. Though looking at the article about Tundra Orbit you have linked it was 25000 x 39000 km already, so not that much of a difference.
SXM carries this (along with a ton of other products) in their stream, alongside the audio channels that most people know. Their agricultural products, aviation products, stock-market feed, fuel-price data, and more, are valuable to various markets who buy specialized displays with the receivers integrated into them.
Aren't you missing the part where they're sending it to you 10,000 feet in the air via a satellite constellation? That's a little more than "packaging". You're free to access the public data by any other means you choose.
I guess there is no full country coverage of FM in USA?
In road trip you never had channels that stop receiving? They pay 5$ a month to avoid to switch in theses situations ;).
There used to be cases of people being discovered, im sure. But a lot of it is not quite the rag-to-riches story they make it seem, especially your example of Billie Eilish.
I have just over 8,000 listens on Soundcloud. I have good reason to believe that the great majority of those are real. It's quite satisfying. My hobby has perhaps connected with some people, in the magical way that music does. If I were better at it, it wouldn't just be a hobby. :)
BTW - my handle is: https://soundcloud.com/cyberferret
(very close to the adjective-animal name thing that another commenter mentioned! :) )
Look at the organic engagement from the tracks I posted 5+ years ago, versus later ones and you can spot the down trend quite easily!
what is your soundcloud handle? I'd like to check out your work and add to those 8k listens! :)
(incidentally, I am patientfrog on soundcloud)
Will check out your stuff! Incidentally, I've toyed with the idea of "usefulmoose" for an artist name. [adjective-that-people-like][animal-that-people-like]. Good formula.
WWOZ - New Orleans gold mine, especially 2 week audio archive
KCRW - live + curated streams
Cultura Brasil - a curated, updated stream of Brazilian music
BR Heimat - odd, but I find corny alpine brass bands a great working soundtrack
WKHR - a high school radio station in Cleveland where old people play 78rpm records
I also realized that at my production rate, its cheaper to just use Distrokid and throw things out on iTunes than to hope for discovery on soundcloud. Now I just use sound cloud to distribute examples of hardware mods or how a piece of gear sounds. no more music...
Not the OP, but yes, of course. Most musicians want their music to connect to other people. If you had the opportunity to get on stage and play a show at a bar full of excited people or at one whose dancefloor contained only Roombas wandering aimlessly around, which one would you play at?
Also this is not a sour grapes because I have no fans sort of reaction. The point is that there is so much noise from the bots that I dont want to spend the effort to try and engage legitimate people. Lastly, I didnt quit soundcloud, I stopped using it for its initial purpose, and now use it for easily sharing audio in specific use cases. I just dont see it as a "social network". Its that for some people, but not for most people.
Their last marketing mail was about some new feature for artists, that's when I finally pulled the plug. They lack any direction, they focus on the artist side of things, while their listeners get a mediocre music player.
...I'm so out of the loop
Just take a look at this article from 3 years ago titled "SoundCloud is losing a lot of money — is an acquisition coming soon?":
Get big and cash out
They can still do it. There isn't much competition there, Bandcamp and Gumroad aren't dominating.
It's not a new thing. It's a newer thing. It's been around for years. I used subscribe 4-5 years ago so I could get commentary on soccer games while I was watching in a pub (w/ no audio).
soundcloud is organized way more as a musician-to-musician site than a musician-to-consumer site. it's no wonder bandcamp is successful while sc struggles.
Plus it's not like you need to invest a shitton into up and coming artists. Most of them need a band, some recording studio hours, and some marketing. The marketing is probably the most expensive one, but SoundCloud has easy, free marketing: put the artist on the front page. If SC did this for maybe 25-50 artists a year, they could easily get a Billie Eilish or a mumble rapper or two. It's not like there's many other places to post music as a young artist.
Edit: Or even if SoundCloud can't act as a record label for fear of stepping on actual record labels, they can still build a solid referral relationship. They have the ultimate first look deal.
SiriusXM use every tactic in their book to convert and retain customers. In the age of Spotify and Apple Music, their charges don’t quite make sense.
I cancelled mine because satellite reception was poorer than FM and I just didn’t see the point. They spammed me pretty hard for 6 months and gave me all sorts of offers. The product isn’t worth it.
I think they reversed some of the charges when I finally noticed and called to explain the situation. It was very easy to overlook when you've just had a car accident and had to deal with insurance and buying a new car and all of that.
The year of Luigi returns. First Spotify, now the satellite radio company.
Makes sense though. Easy way to get access to new music.
It drives me insane.
I've been paying for the SoundCloud Go+ plan ($9.99/mo) since November 2016, which I match when I buy 1-2 albums on Bandcamp. Its not enough. I would gladly subscribe to some artists and pay $5/mo.
For an audio platform, the audio quality is subpar. Terrible discovery. Too many bots & marketing-spammers. No direct monetization scheme for artists. Terrible mobile app (at least on iOS). etc.
My one gripe is that you can only follow 2,000 people! WTH Soundcloud, why place such an arbitrary maximum? It's clearly not a hard limit because occasionally I can glitch my way up to more followers by clicking the button dozens of times (I'm at 2010 now).
The limit on follower can be an related to a typical problem with building activity feeds on scale : push vs / with pull.
one of the nails in their coffin was when SoundCloud cut them off