Exclusive: Mixcloud launches 'the YouTube of radio' on Monday

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BioShock 2: February 9, 2010

Listen up, music lovers. Mixcloud, the on-demand radio startup that’s re-thinking radio for the digital age, opens its doors to the public at noon on Monday. The site launched in private beta at SXSW earlier this year, and has had some positive reviews. Which is probably why it was shortlisted for a TechCrunch Europas award a few months back. After the jump, we’ve got 500 passes for TechCrunch readers to get a sneak preview of Mixcliud’s ‘cloudcasts’.

Online radio is very much a digital media orphan; languishing in a fragmented space while innovations in other aspects of streaming media have come thick and fast over the last few years. Mixcloud’s vision is to be the YouTube of radio with on-demand radio shows spanning music and talk and truing to make it make it more social, personalised and ‘democratic’.

Melodica 03 August 2009 by Chris Coco on Mixcloud

Anyone can upload to the site and the listeners decide who gets exposed. Of course, it has social tools built in, so users can share and discover radio through friends. There’s also a radio recommendation algorithm to help users find shows they love.

The startup was founded by Nikhil Shah and Nico Perez, who met when they studied at Cambridge University (maths and engineering, respectively, since you ask). Like many tech startups, the idea came from trying to scratch an itch.

The guys, both radio presenters and DJs, were frustrated by how hard it was discovering and promoting radio online. They realised more could be done to help connect this content to listeners. So they quit their jobs, got developers Mat Clayton and Sam Cooke on board, and built an invite-only beta which they marketed primarily through Twitter, signing up around 100 new users a day.

More than 1,000 content creators use the site now. The shows currently lean towards club music and DJs, given the founders’ background in organising clubnights and warehouse parties. However they are in discussions with big hitters in the broadcast world to expand the breadth of content.

The revenue model is part ad-funded, part freemium, part based on white-label partnerships that allow content creators a means to distribute and monetise their content on-demand to an online audience. Shah is keen to emphasise the fact that Mixcloud operates in the intersection between radio and online. It’s a good place to be; traditional radio advertising is a $31.5 billion market. But it is being cannibalised, with a lot of the spend moving to the nascent online audio ad market.

The founders have bootstrapped the company so far, helped along with a £100k grant from the Technology Strategy Board, on the back of which they’re leading a project with Queen Mary University’s Centre for Digital Music, working on innovative recommendation technology.

Perez and Shah say that while they’re proud of far they’ve got with relatively such little cash, they’re definitely looking to raise a funding round later this year, to take full advantage of the momentum they have in the industry.

We’ve got 500 exclusive passes for the pre-launch preview for TechCrunch readers – click quick! http://www.mixcloud.com/accounts/register/?code=techcrunch

  • Michael Murdoch

    What a great idea. It’s hard to find fresh new music on the internet and it’s hard to find an easy way to listen. Mixcloud looks ace! Really easy to use and intuitive. Can’t wait to sign up properly and start playing with this system.


    • http://www.musicxray.com Bert Hartmann

      This is great idea and I really like the use of the “radio recommendation algorithm to help users find shows they love”. I know that MusicXray http://www.musicxray.com has a similar technology but it is focused on artists posting their music and then allowing it to be critiqued by music industry professionals. Both of these sites are employing great concepts and are providing a step in the right direction for those who want to be able to filter through all of the music available on the web to find what they want to hear while making the artists available to suit their needs of the listener. Good job in teaming up with Queen Mary as well!

  • Mauro Campana

    Really excited about the public launch! Since I joined the Private Beta back in February Mixcloud has been the first choice for my music in almost every situation! The clever search function has always taken me to some great shows…or should I say cloudcasts? :)
    Bring on the new radio concept guys!!!

  • Dan

    Finally it can go viral!!! Really keen to see how quickly word spreads – I think this space is really exciting and look forward to the content that it will inevitably attract – great to be watching something so innovative from the outset

  • Peter

    It’s about time someone made it easier to listen to and share mixes and shows online, and give podcasters another option other than iTunes.

    Here’s to Cloudcasting!

  • Willie Elamien

    This site is too good! I lost all my music about a year ago but was lucky enough to bag myself a beta invite about 6 months ago. Not only have I been able to find a lot of my favourite music but the site has been a great way to discover new music through people’s uploads. I’m sure this will only get bigger and bigger.

  • Vince

    Congrats to Nico and Nikhil!
    If you want to know more about them whatch this interview bit.ly/17TMPe

  • rich

    The revolution will not be televised!
    Nice expose techcrunch.

    Looking forward to world-wide release on monday, ell done mixcloud!

  • http://www.breakingzen.com/2009/09/18/mixcloud-another-yet-platform/ Breaking Zen: il blog di Zeno Tomiolo » Mixcloud, another yet platform?

    […] a Techcrunch UK, si ha potuto provare Mixcloud, una nuova piattaforma di musica che permette, lato produttore di […]

  • http://www.breakingzen.com/2009/09/18/mixcloud-ci-piace/ Breaking Zen: il blog di Zeno Tomiolo » Mixcloud, ci piace!

    […] a Techcrunch UK, si ha potuto provare Mixcloud, una nuova piattaforma di musica che permette, lato produttore, di […]

  • Nick Hansen

    It’s a well-constructed, thoughtful, simply designed yet robust site, which I can really imagine will bring many groups of communities together under one common platform. It deserves to be a grand success.

  • jonny

    it’s pretty but it completely blows. where’s a playlist? I keep getting interrupted because it only plays one song at a time and then I have to go back and find something else to listen to. Eat crap, mixcloud

  • James Smith

    Awesome site, love it guys!
    Can’t wait til the countdown timer hits 0 :)

  • Ian D. Miller

    Am I really the only one wondering about legality of this service? I love music sites and there IS a need for a service like this, but there’s no way this will last in the current form. Music uploaded will require moderation for copyright or else they’ll end up in the same place as every other music sharing site before it. They don’t even make any disclaimer on their upload page stating you need to own the rights to the uploaded work. They may think that the web radio licenses protect them but there are specific rules that govern sites like Pandora (like not being able to listen to X tracks by the same artist in a row). All they say is you can’t upload single tracks…but they don’t say I can’t upload the entire newly released album by whatever top 40 act I want. They, at the very least, need some much stronger language on the upload page warning people not to upload copyrighted music…

    • Andrew L

      Actually it’s legal to play copyrighted music as long as you pay royalty fees to the appropriate organization – which would be Soundexchange, the digital wing of the RIAA in the States. Looks like the UK it’s this http://www.prsformusic.com

      Only issue is of course whether they can afford the cost of millions of users generating royalty fees.

      • Ian D. Miller

        Andrew, if they follow that model then they’ll need to know every audio track that is in a mix. That’s part of the interface but is the data that’s input enough for them to actually pay royalties on? Typos in artist names, determining which country an artist is located in and global rights management (a stream request coming from one country vs. another) make paying the appropriate royalties VERY messy.

        You’re also assuming that the average person making a playlist and uploading it is actually going to take the time to put in info for each track in their mix. That’s a lot of trust.

        I’d advocate for having a licensed DB of tracks (or letting people upload specific tracks you can then ID against Gracenote or similar service, like Lala does) and then let users mix tracks together with voice, etc. in a Flash based studio/mixer app online. That way you have a discrete object (a track) that you can ID and pay royalties on. Accepting a finished mix is always going to be sloppy/tedious to try to analyze and pay royalties on.

      • Andrew L

        I agree that it looks like it would be a headache to manage – I’m just pointing out that there is a legal framework in place for this kind of thing.

        These royalty pricing structures have been a long standing fight – with many web broadcasters feeling they are being unfairly marginalized since traditional radio isn’t subject to the same high per song performance fees. My personal feeling is that the high royalty fees are stifling innovation and hurting the advancement of digital music in general.

        What you’re describing with the music database sounds good on paper but you would then be faced with the challenge of licensing enough content to make the service worth your users time, no easy task for a small company. And while we might be approaching the point where a web-based mixing tool could be built (and I’ve seen people try), most DJs will tell you it’s no replacement for desktop software or real turntables at this point;)

  • Andrew L

    I’m curious how the licensing/ royalty system works for this. There’s been a lot of talk recently about how unaffordable it is to set up an online radio business because of the high per play song costs from Soundexchange and other royalty collection groups (which might have something to do with it being the orphan child as the article puts it). Is Mixcloud doing anything new here or is it simply paying a song by song fee like the rest of them?

  • http://www.xeesm.com/meganabourne Megan A. Bourne

    I agree that internet radio has languished – and it looked so promising 10 years ago! Looking forward to watching Mixcloud take off.

  • R S

    Yes! Hopefully, this will bring the needed change to current state of internet radio.

  • Toffer Peak

    YouTube of Radio? Aren’t LaLa, Last.fm, Pandora, GrooveShark, etc already the YouTube’s of Radio? I really think they need to come up with a better description of what they are providing because that is a need that has already been filled multiple times over. Worse, after trying it out I must say the previous sites have done it much better, the interface is simply clumsy and confusing. I’ll try it out for a few more minutes but this looks like it needs a lot more work to make me want to come back a second time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Darshan_Sanghrajka/2512814 Darshan Sanghrajka

    Awesome – can’t wait for Mixcloud to hit the ball out of the beta park! The team are great guys and have worked hard to make it happen. The main thing is the founders actually love what they do and have been DJ’s for years and so, are doing this because they know it’s needed and are passionate about it! It’s refreshing to see this in today’s tech scene.

    Good luck guys!

  • Daniel Krause

    I personally found the interface very straightforward. A service like this has indeed been lacking on the web for extended audio content. Mixcloud ought to work with the labels to make them understand how they could help each other as often I listen to radioshows, such as the essential mix online, or podcasts and find myself wanting to download music I hear. It’s an interesting concept, well designed and carried through. Kudos to the mixcloud team. Now to see if it will blow up virally…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nikhil_Shah/36904192 Nikhil Shah

    Thanks for so many great comments guys! We’re excited about launch and overwhelmed by all the positive feedback we’ve been getting.

    In response to some of the qs above, we are a radio service that plays radio shows – not songs strung together in playlists or by algorithms. That’s why we’re the YouTube of radio unlike services like Last.fm etc (which, by the way, we love).

    Bigup for the love!

    • Toffer Peak

      Hmm. Then I guess my question would be do people really want that? Isn’t what’s great about “internet radio” is that you can listen to what you want, not what the radio station wants to play? Sure that can help you learn new music;/artists but with recommendation algorithms (Pandora) and personal recommendations (last.fm) I don’t really think that the internet lacks significantly superior ways to learn of and listen to new music. At a minimum you should be able to skip songs.

      Sorry, i just don’t see this going anywhere.

      • http://www.seslisohbetbk.com Sesli Sohbet

        Thanks good comments

  • http://www.iowa-personalinjurylawyer.com/ Iowa personal injury

    Great idea. I can’t wait to see how it takes off.

  • Sven

    Let me guess, this is hosted in the cloud? Is that what makes this different?

  • http://www.ukstevieb.com/2009/09/19/steviebs-shared-items-september-19-2009/ StevieB’s Shared Items – September 19, 2009 at Lost in Cyberspace

    […] Exclusive: Mixcloud launches ‘the YouTube of radio’ on MondaySeptember 18, 2009 […]

  • http://remixtures.com/2009/09/mixcloud-quer-ser-o-youtube-da-radio-online/ MixCloud quer ser o YouTube da rádio online | Remixtures

    […] e Sam Cooke. Em pouco tempo desenvolveram uma versão beta acessível apenas por convite. Segundo o TechCrunch, eles começaram por distribuir os convites no Twitter a uma média de 100 por dia. A versão beta […]

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paramendra_Kumar_Bhagat/621599484 Paramendra Kumar Bhagat

    I don’t fully get it.

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