NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- ICYMI (and you probably did): Internet radio provider Slacker redesigned its Android app the other week to include cosmetic changes and a "new" feature it calls "My Vibe."
It's really not a new feature unless you live inside the Slacker vacuum. Slacker's gimmick knocks off what Songza has been doing -- and doing quite well -- for a while. Simplistically stated (i.e., the brainless way Slacker stated it), My Vibe serves music playlists based on your mood.
For all intents and purposes, Slacker skims Songza's idea off the top, providing music for when you wake up in the morning, exercise, etc. As far as I know -- and I have tried to ask, but Slacker's outspoken, frequently misguided CEO Jim Cady refuses to talk to me -- there's no real method behind Slacker's madness. The company's strategy appears as unfocused as its everything to everyone platform.
Sadly, Slacker gives Internet radio a bad name.When you step back from the various controversies that mire it, particularly royalties, you realize what an incredible space Internet radio is and can continue to be. Not only does it provide music listeners with unlimited and dynamic options for consumption, it offers musicians unprecedented avenues for maximizing exposure and forming new lines of revenue. And more than a few Internet radio companies can and will sustain and become profitable. That's because smart strategies underlie what they're doing. Consider Songza. Expect it to look more and more like a smart e-commerce platform as it matures. The team at Songza understands the power of music. They recognize that music soundtracks our daily activities, from the mundane to the meaningful. So Songza takes these experiences, uses music to package them and sell them to advertisers and, eventually, provide users relevant and contextual options for associated consumption. Songza effectively puts an Amazon.com (AMZN)-like model to work. Like Songza, Amazon also has a clear strategy that music works as a key part of. The ability to purchase, download and store music on Amazon acts as another feature of an all-encompassing and sticky e-commerce ecosystem. Pandora (P) takes pretty much an opposite approach.
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