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How to Get the Most Out of Internet Radio

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- According to a MIDiA Consulting study of 1,000 respondents in the United Kingdom, Internet radio remains a niche with respect to how people consume music.

Broadcast radio rules by a wide margin with Google's (GOOG - Get Report) YouTube a prime driver of online activity.

While the survey likely has flaws and I don't agree with the author's decidedly negative findings/assumptions about subscription model Internet radio, I do concur that consumers are still feeling out how to best navigate this relatively new streaming-dominated landscape.

And, make no mistake, just as streaming will soon dominate video consumption (if it doesn't already in some areas), it will rule music listening. For whatever reason, the transition from more traditional methods of watching television and the Netflix (NFLX) red envelope appears easier to swallow than the shift from what's playing in your iTunes (or similar) collection, on broadcast radio and the only Web service to achieve significant scale, Pandora (P - Get Report) Internet radio.

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It's a fascinating landscape to observe. I love speculating about what's happening and visioning what might be, but here I want to address practical considerations that can help advance the learning curve. At the same time, the possibilities inherent in Internet radio (and its offshoots) as a consumer space help inform the investment case for companies in and around the space.

I reckon most music listeners probably do not use even a fraction of all that exists to their advantage. Granted, there's so much out there it can be intimidating. There's no end to the potential systems and combinations that can take your music listening -- casual, hardcore or somewhere in between -- to not only the next level, but its greatest potential.

The Experience of Listening to and Discovering Music

My two fondest memories of listening to music as a child involve my Uncle Mike.

We spent many weekend nights in my grandparents' basement listening to vinyl records. My uncle kept his collection in several milk crates. We would put something on, listen, talk about it and move on to something else.

Often, these listening sessions would morph into drives around Niagara Falls, New York, listening to what was 103.3 WPHD. My uncle and I drove around, with no particular place to go, until 'PHD played a "superset" (on their "superset weekend") by The Police. Sometimes we would drive past midnight (a treat for a kid my age) waiting on three in a row from Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers.

Great times I wouldn't trade for anything. You just can't replace the lasting social impact of that interaction. However, I can't help but think how much richer these experiences with Uncle Mike would have been if we had today's technology at our disposal.

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