If you listen to Internet radio, you’ll get a taste of the future on Tuesday. That’s when many of the major Internet radio companies—Live365, Yahoo, Rhapsody, and Real Networks, among others—will either go silent or substitute the sound of static to simulate what the Internet radio universe is going to sound like after increased royalty rates go into effect on July 15 and drive many online broadcasters off the air. Jerry Del Colliano, founder of Inside Radio, who’s now professoring at USC, wrote an online column Friday blasting terrestrial radio companies that stream for not joining the silence on Tuesday. The reason the terrestrial companies are sitting on the sidelines, according to Del Colliano? The belief that Internet-only streamers are actually their enemy, specifically an enemy of HD radio. They think that if Internet streaming dies, people will have to turn to HD for a wide variety of free channels. But Del Colliano likens HD radio to the Edsel—there’s some evidence that more people know about HD radio than did when I first wrote about it a year ago this week, but little evidence it’s gotten any real traction in the marketplace since then. In other words: People ain’t rushin’ to buy them, and that’s bad news for terrestrial radio owners who think HD is the future. Perhaps the Internet is where the future of radio really lies, and they’re missing the chance to make it a more congenial place for themselves.
Also go read a column by Eric Benderoff of the Chicago Tribune, sent along by The Mrs., about the resurgence (a relative term, but correct enough) of interest in music on vinyl. Many audiophiles have never embraced the CD for sonic reasons, and the iPod, with its tiny little earbuds, drives them around the bend. If vinyl provides better sound, that’s what they’ll want.
I have never obsessed much about sound quality, myself. Perhaps it’s got something to do with being weaned on AM—as long as it’s reasonably clear and the signal has some low-end punch to it, I really don’t care whether I can hear the dandruff falling onto the drummer’s shoulders. Years ago, a stereo-geek friend said to me, “I don’t really care what I listen to as long as it’s clean”—which to me, defeats the point of owning sound equipment. But I do draw the line at earbuds.