Slacker: A new (better?) music service


I’m pretty impressed with the new music service, Slacker. Here’s the rundown from CNET:

The device-plus-service combines satellite radio, standard portable music player and Wi-Fi-enabled gadget with 10,000 custom music channels that users can tailor according to their taste, covering virtually every possible genre. The end result is essentially portable radio with video instead of audio ads–or, for a price, no ads at all–with content that refreshes automatically based on personal preference.

Although they are new to the scene and are in “beta” they have a very appealing consumption model, targeted at “slackers” like myself. I don’t own an iPod, nor do I use iTunes. I like subscription music services because they allow me to download and listen to any full track in their collection for one flat fee. This is great for me since I like to constantly find new music rather than listen to the same songs over and over. I tend to scour the Web, viewing radio station playlists and music charts, to discover new music. I then find it in my music service of choice (right now it’s Yahoo! Unlimited), download it, and sync it with my device. Whew, too much work for me since I’m a “slacker”. Slacker proposes to help by allowing me to listen to their various radio stations, which I can customize to my tastes, mark what I like while listening, and have those songs synced with their Slacker device wirelessly. No fuss, no muss. I can even take my songs to go and/or listen to their radio service in my car with their car dock. I can’t wait for their pay service ($7.50/month), various portable devices, and car dock to become available, which is set to be sometime this summer. If they can reliably execute on this model, then they’ll have me as a paying customer in a heartbeat.


2 Responses to “Slacker: A new (better?) music service”

  1. As a piece of kit the Slacker device looks really nice – but I wonder if they are doing the right thing in trying to market another type of standalone music player.

    In Europe I work on a product called Vodafone RadioDJ, which pretty much does the same thing, but streams the music to a 3G mobile phone handset. It means you get your music on the go, but you can jst carry your phone, rather than a music device and a voice communication device.

    Once the iPhone is actually available in the US later in the year, do you think Slacker will be able to gain market share?

  2. It’s too early to tell how successful Slacker will be with their business model. To me it’s really targeting people with different needs.

    iPod owners and/or people who have been wanted an iPod will most likely gravitate to the iPhone if they desire convergence since they are more comfortable with buying from Apple, like the iTunes interface, find iTunes more usable, like the comfort of owning their music, know what music they want (and like ala carte purchasing), and/or have invested in a ton of iTunes music.

    People who like subscription services (including satellite radio) where they can openly explore a ton of different music will most likely be willing to give Slacker a try. I’d think the barrier for this group of people would be the variety/breathe of music Slacker can/will offer.

    For anyone, regardless of their current digital music stance, I’d think ease-of-use would be very key. Slacker will seem to allow syncing over a WiFi connection. No need to connect your portable device to a PC or Mac. Just be in range of a WiFi connection and your music library on your portable device will be updated. Sounds pretty simple to me. This just might be tougher for the people who know what they want to listen to, and would like simple playlist creation and playback since with Slacker they’d need to listen to create custom stations with their favorite artists, then “ban” the songs they don’t like.

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