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The Best Way to Make Internet Radio Stronger

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Spotted at Readwrite: The suggestion that Spotify and Rdio merge.

While I agree with the author -- Spotify is an unintuitive mess and Rdio provides a clean, hassle-free platform -- he, like many others, fails to draw the distinction between different types of Internet radio. You can't just take what you perceive as the best of Spotify and the best of Rdio and meld it together to create the ultimate service.

There's pure-play Internet radio -- in the redefined, yet traditional sense of the word. That pretty much begins and ends with Pandora (P). Arguably the most misunderstood popular technology company ever.

There's relatively straightforward on-demand. You know exactly what you want to listen to. And in what form. You search for something specific and crank it. By far, Rdio represents best of breed in this category.


Then there's the poorly defined, hybrid-type services that achieve varying degrees of success such as Spotify. Frankly, I'm not sure Spotify knows what it wants to be. It doesn't have the focus of Pandora.

And that's OK. There's room for Internet radio players along this continuum. I use them all, plus the stuff that fits somewhere between on the spectrum -- Google's (GOOG) YouTube, Apple's (AAPL) iTunes, Vevo and others.

We shouldn't approach the question of Internet radio from the standpoint of how do we create the ultimate service? That makes no sense. Who listens to only one traditional radio station? Who watches just one television channel? Who uses one app per sector?

We require the great diversity of experience that everybody from Pandora to Rdio to Spotify to YouTube and Vevo provide. Without this diversity, much of what's great about Internet radio dies. Sirius XM (SIRI) already crushed the promise of satellite radio. It could have been great; however it became little more than a vanilla offering that caters to the same people who supported AM radio on its deathbed.


That said, the Internet radio space absolutely requires consolidation. It might even need a Google or Apple to come in and make a big acquisition. Or three. That's the key for me. Maintaining the breadth of experiences -- a large number of eclectic platforms -- but creating a more powerful Internet radio bloc to, once and for all, put the unfortunate "enemy" (that collective known as "the record labels") in its place.

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