A new, South African-developed mobile application, Recast – on the Web at recast.fm – allows music fans to listen to radio playlists, while stripping out the interruptions of advertising and DJ chatter.
Developed by Richard Oakley from technology incubator Labs.fm, Recast accesses the playlists of radio stations around the world and allows users to listen to them as they would a streaming music service. Songs can also be skipped.
“When it comes to music, the ultimate goal is the creation of the perfect playlist — human vs algorithm, genre vs mood, discovery vs familiarity,” said Oakley.
Services like Pandora create playlists by proposing songs based on favourites or play history. But Recast takes this a step further, he said.
“We believe that the best playlists already exist, developed by radio stations who have people who have spent their entire careers figuring out what people like. They are simply locked in a medium that, as a music experience, is ruined by inaccessibility, inconvenience and interruptions.”
The app avoids issue typically associated with purely algorithm-driven recommendations, which often give a very narrow definition of what a user may enjoy, Oakley said.
The app includes over 200 different radio stations from around the world, including a handful from South Africa.
When a station is clicked on through Recast, it shows its 10 most played songs and a visual effect that breaks down the different genres the stations plays by percentage, allowing users to discover new stations that they may enjoy listening to.
Oakley said the app does not compete with broadcast radio stations, despite collecting playlists from them.
“Recast can help traditional radio stations, and supply useful data to them. They usually use methods like telephone surveys and focus groups to try and find out what music people like. However, we collect real data from listeners, by measuring actions such as which tracks they skip over, and how that is changing over time.”
The app is currently only available for iPhone, but an Android one is in development. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media