SAN DIEGO (Hypebot) — In the last few months, digital radio service Slacker has added a premium channel, partnered with AOL and helped launch the new Facebook. But they've also been a successful example of music programming by expert humans, aka djs, as opposed to more algorithmically inclined solutions.
Music curation is taking on many forms and Slacker was recently profiled in the LA Times including some thoughts on the power of djs vs algorithms for programming choices. As Alex Pham notes:
"As director of music programming at…Slacker Inc., [Scott] Riggs oversees about 70 DJs who select most of the songs played on the company's 150 stations, including genres as varied as trance, hip-hop, gospel and swing…"
"Although Slacker has struggled over the years to find the right business model, it has not deviated from its DJ-centric approach, believing that the way to people's ears — and wallets — is to offer music curated by experts in dozens of genres and sub-genres. Riggs is at the heart of Slacker's efforts, overseeing a group of contract DJs who build their stations' playlists from scratch and continually fine-tune them."
Slacker's willingness to fund a staff of djs is a strong differentiator from other streaming music services at a time when competition is intense. I'd like to think that human curation can be a strong selling point but I wonder how much expertise is discounted in an environment in which music suggestions seem to emanate from all directions.
Other music services that rely on handpicked djs or editorial staff, though not direct competitors, include 955 Dreams, Groovebug and Dubset.