Check out the site here: youarelistening.to
Every week I get quite a few emails asking whether I'm planning to create an iPhone version of the youarelistening.to site. I've always wanted to say yes, but the truth is that I've been busy with a million other things this year and I wanted to make sure that when I did start working seriously on an app, I'd be able to make something really awesome that built on all the stuff I've learned from running the site this past year!
I'm not much of a programmer myself but I have a lot of experience designing and managing software projects and I want the youarelistening.to app to be something I can be really proud of and which will earn a permanent place on the home screen of your iPhone or iPad. To make this happen I'm planning to work with some top-notch developers and spend a lot of time personally designing and testing every element of the app from the streaming audio controls and how it works over WiFi and 3G connections (as well as offline!) I'm also planning to add or enhance other features, helping listeners learn more about the artists featured on the site, as well as updating & customizing the playlists more frequently. There will be more opportunities for listener feedback and participation too: adding photos, sharing other links and becoming a bigger part of the youarelistening.to community.
None of this is going to be easy, but I'm sure it will be worth it, and that's where you come in. The youarelistening.to audience has already been a huge part of the site's success, thanks to all the links you've shared on Facebook, Twitter, social networking sites and everywhere else. Today I'm asking you to share those links one more time (especially with your friends in all the new cities that have just been added to the site) and if you can spare a few dollars to help pay for the development of the app and more updates to the site, I'd be extremely grateful for that as well. None of this would be possible without you, and with your help I have a feeling that we're going to make a lot of even more awesome stuff possible in 2012!
Update: Just posted this SoundCloud clip of me talking more about the project. Check it out!
The night the Giants won the World Series in 2010 there was some craziness going on in San Francisco. Streets were blocked, trash cans were on fire, people were dancing on top of cars! After getting a burrito and some Bob's Donuts I rode my bike home and got on the internets. People on Twitter were all sharing a link to the SF Scanner channel on soma.fm and I started listening in to the live police radio feed of the ongoing celebrations. It was all very interesting, but after a couple minutes I had had enough and decided to put on some music. In the moment after starting iTunes but before shutting down the scanner audio, I noticed something about the mix of different audio streams. I noticed that it was awesome. I tried IMing some people about it but they were all, "WTF are you talking about? That sounds weird!" Since it wasn't the easiest thing to explain how to reproduce (i.e. play this music, open a second audio player, etc...) I realized I'd have to figure out some other way of sharing the awesomeness.
My friend (and LA background image photographer!) Kara has collected a bunch of the press coverage of the site here:
I figured the initial spike of traffic would die down after the first few days, and it did, but new listeners kept on coming. I got contacted by local news shows in LA and bloggers, musicians and journalists all over the world asking about the site and how to be a part of it! I knew going in that I surely wasn't the *only* person out there who thought this was a cool idea, but it was amazingly rewarding to find out how many people seemed to really dig the whole project. I've been doing my best since then to keep the site healthy and growing, by adding new cities and channels and staying in touch with a growing community of musicians and other collaborators. I've also done a few "custom" channels throughout the year, including one that tracked the progress of Hurricane Irene along the east coast of the US last August, and this drove a second big group of listeners to the site, as it was written up by Mat Honan at Gizmodo!
So that brings us to the present day. As a digital product manager and user-experience designer, I've got a pretty complete vision of where I'd like to take this project. I've spent the last year in conversation with listeners, musicians and other artists, and they've really inspired me to start putting some of these ideas into practice. The #1 request I've gotten from listeners since launching the site is for a version that would work on mobile devices, specifically the iPhone.
Currently the site won't work in Mobile Safari b/c there's no support for multiple simultaneous HTML 5 audio streams (at least that I've been able to figure out) but beyond that, there are a bunch of ways I'd like to extend the functionality of the site that I think would benefit from the creation of a native iOS app. Allowing listeners to contribute notes, photos and even their own audio could make the "listening.to" experience even more abstract and immersive. I've decided to do this Kickstarter in order to raise funds to build a slick, professional mobile app that extends and improves upon the experience familiar to users of the listening.to site, but also to take the whole project to another level.
One example of the new type of content that I want to bring to the site is already available here:
The possibilities for this project are pretty much unlimited, and what this Kickstarter is really about is buying the time to start getting some of these ideas up and running, turning them loose on the internet and seeing what happens next.
What I believe we're seeing right now with the rapid growth of content-sharing sites like SoundCloud, crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and social networks like Facebook and Twitter gluing everything together is hardly the "death of the music industry", the "victory of the pirates" or anything of the sort. Music, art, video, writing and all other forms of culture are simply escaping from the disfiguring prison cell of mass-media distribution which has confined them for the past 150+ years. I'm hoping there are a lot of you out there who feel the same way about things and want to be a part of what comes next. I don't know if we should call it public radio or community media or something else entirely, but with your support I am 100% certain that we can keep bringing together amazing musicians, writers and artists from around the world with a passionate and growing audience of listeners and fans. Thanks again for all your help so far, and please stay tuned for more!