Crowdsourced Radio Goes National in US, Australia


jelliSome of our readers might recall a post I did in late June of this year about an experiment in applying social media-based tactics to broadcast radio. Jelli started off purely online as a service similar to Digg, which allows users to vote news stories “up” or “down” in order to determine what hits their front page, but applied to music rather than news stories. Listeners are able to access the playlists on the Jelli website and their voting is what determines which songs make it to the air.

Jelli  brought its online/user-driven playlist approach to San Francisco’s LIVE 105 KITS-FM last June and the intervening months have seen it become such a success (30-40% increase) that the company has now brokered a deal with Triton Media Group. This is no small feat as Triton is the content provider for over 45,000 radio stations across the United States.

One cannot deny the popularity of user-controlled media, something proven successful on the Internet for several years now. Of course, we can also look at the evolution of websites like Digg to see some possible pitfalls. There will always be those who try to “game” the system, co-opting it in ways that subvert the normal processes.

To their credit, the folks at Jelli seem to have put a lot of thought into this and already have some plans in place to defuse such possibilities. They are taking a page from that other massively popular online pastime: video games. The more users participate, the more opportunity they will have to “power up” their choices like a video game character with “rockets” and “bombs.”

Josh Lowensohn at C|Net News takes a look at their interactivity:

[…] Jelli continues to work on are countermeasures to keep a group of users from completely dominating the listening experience. For instance, each user is given a limited number of “rockets” and “bombs” each day. Rockets let you jump your song, or someone else’s to the head of the queue to give it a chance at playing next. To even those out, bombs (which are given out a little more sparingly) are able to wipe the score of any queued track to zero, which can keep it from making it on air if users don’t vote it back up.

That’s not the end of the game-like experience though. In a call with CNET News on Monday, Jelli CEO and co-founder Mike Dougherty (who was previously TellMe‘s VP of biz dev) told me that the bombs and rockets were just the tip of the iceberg and that other gaming “power ups” and ways to earn them were coming shortly but could not give specifics on what they would do.

Now, I am a rarity, a computer geek that does not play video games, but I do know a lot of people who do. Gaming is huge, as sales of units like the Playstation and the Wii easily prove. By adopting familiar mechanics from gaming as well as from social media, Jelli is keying in to behavior patterns that are already entrenched in the vast majority of Internet users.  This familiarity creates ease of adoption and ease of use, two things crucial in maintaining and growing a user base.

I’m really excited to see how this is coming together. It was a mere four months ago that Jelli first brought its music from the Internet to the air waves. Four months and now they are about to be broadcast across the nation (and seemingly in Australia as well). I think that is an unqualified radio success story!

So, what does a radio station have to do in order to integrate Jelli? And what’s the time frame for its roll out? When will Jelli be on-air nationwide? And what about Australia? When will it be available down under? Eliot Van Buskirk at Wired has the answers:

Jelli is now officially in beta. Triton-affiliated stations across the country can choose to install the Jelli server, which sits between into the internet and the station’s live-to-air audio signal path, to run their own customized service, or subscribe to one of two syndicated, cross-country shows, Top 40 Jelli and Rock Jelli. The company expects the first of these to be up and running in January in the U.S., and is also launching in Australia through its partner there, Austereo.

I predicted that this could be big, but I must admit to being stunned to see this explosion of growth.

What are your thoughts on this innovative fusion of broadcast, social media and video game techniques? Let us know here in the comments or on our Facebook Page!

Image: Jelli logo / Fair Use: reporting


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