7digital Makes A Play To Be The Go-To Streaming Radio Backend As Google And Apple Services Loom

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7digital, the London-based company that offers digital music store services to some of the world’s leading consumer electronics companies, including Samsung and Blackberry, as well as to smaller companies and startups like doubleTwist and Turntable.fm, is announcing the wide release of its streaming music platform for DMCA radio partners in the U.S.

The new-and-improved streaming radio API from 7digital is designed to help anyone launch their own streaming radio service, one which is fully compliant with DMCA restrictions in the U.S, and which also includes all of 7digital’s extensive catalog of licensed music – a library of more than 25 million tracks and growing as of this writing.

Already, 7digital offers streaming music licensing for some DMCA radio providers in the U.S., including NYC-based Turntable.fm, which also used the 7digital API to launch its new Piki service, the music-based social network it debuted late last year. Piki, along with any other app that complies to U.S. DMCA streaming radio regulations, must fit very specific conditions to offer its service, in terms of being able to skip tracks or not, how users can search for songs and artists and more. It all sounds a bit constricting, but 7digital President of North America Vickie Nauman says that in fact, they’re finding the DMCA-style radio experience is exactly what users are looking for to replicate the ease and convenience of terrestrial radio.

“In the old days you drive your car and you push a button and you listen to a program that’s been streamed for you,” she said. “It’s easy, you find someone that can curate, and something that’s to your liking, and it’s such a great lean-back experience and we’ve been watching the marketplace and we feel that the partners that we have that are doing really well, combined with the need people have for a really easy way to listen to their music have led us to decide that this year we’re really going to focus on radio.”

7digital’s radio push comes at a time when streaming radio seems to be the order of the day. Google has just launched its own All Access streaming music and radio service, while Apple is said to be preparing its own iRadio service, which could potentially launch as soon as next week at WWDC. But while the space is heating up in terms of competition, Nauman believes it’s heating up in terms of interest among potential 7digital partners as well, and that represents a big opportunity.

“Everyone watches what they do, and then they play their cards, and people see the products, and people say ‘Oh, well we can do that better’,” she said. “For Apple, I’m certainly a fan of the devices, and the way they incorporate hardware, software and content, and I used to work at Sonos so I have a real appreciation for the elegance of having all three of those pieces work well, but Apple is going to build things for iOS, and for iOS users, and especially as you go outside of the U.S. you realize there are a lot of other operating systems and devices in different parts of the world.”

In the end, though, 7digital isn’t choosing radio streaming over and above other options. It still plans on offering its digital purchasing and download model, as well as on-demand streaming as a separate option. In fact, Nauman says that 7digital wants to offer solution that highlight how different delivery systems can work seamlessly together. There’s an option to plug its streaming radio API directly into the 7digital store, for instance, which she says should result in such a seamless shopping experience that users would be able to hear a song, purchase it as simply as if they’d liked it or given it a thumbs up, and then have it delivered automatically to their cloud locker.

7digital’s streaming radio API is designed for big companies and startups alike, and Nauman says it should be particularly helpful to startups in terms of simplifying the thorny licensing issues around music and letting companies focus on products. That leads to a dramatic increased capability in terms of go-to-market time, and lowers a huge barrier faced when starting up any media-focused enterprise. But with so many big fish in the pond, it’ll be interesting to see how eager others are to jump in.