Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The death of Launchcast

For quite a few years, I've been building a Yahoo! Launchcast Plus Internet radio station. Launchcast is a service that allows you to rate artists, albums, and individual songs, along with genres of music, so that your custom radio station plays what you want it to play. You can also filter your station into "moods" so that it plays only a certain range of music. It's the most customizable and intuitive of all streaming Internet radio products out there, and the commercial-free Plus option is a bargain at $3.99 a month. Over the years, I've rated about 5,000 things, and my station is just about perfect.

When I first stumbled onto Launchcast, I think it was like eight or nine years ago, it wasn't owned by Yahoo!, and it had a convenient desktop player that you could launch without going to a specific website. After a time, Yahoo! bought it, removed the desktop player, and began to require you to go to their website to launch your player. The player also ONLY works in Windows, using Internet Explorer. Still, I bought the Plus! service, and I built my station.

If I've had my Launchcast Plus station for eight years, which I think I have, then I've given Yahoo $383.04.

Yahoo! has now decided, out of the blue, to partner with CBS Radio, and radically change the Launchcast service. They're going to eliminate custom stations completely and remove the commercial-free Plus option. I find this unfair and more than a little bit upsetting. I know it sounds like a minor thing, but I've cultivated my Launchcast station for at least eight years so that I can turn it on at any time and hear something I want to hear. Losing it is going to hurt a little bit.

I guess I'm just a little miffed that I didn't get any more explanation than an e-mail telling me that it was going to happen in January. Yahoo! is making this change because the RIAA are being dicks about royalty fees for streaming radio. Streaming radio is a great way for people not only to enjoy music that they know and love, but also to discover new music and new artists. If streaming radio is stifled by unreasonable fees, then I don't think anyone wins.