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Want to help support an iPhone version of "You Are Listening to LA" and get some cool rewards in the process? Donate here!

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!

About youarelistening.to:

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.

After thinking about it for a few months and learning about the awesome API from SoundCloud and the great ambient music community there, I realized that by combining this music with scanner audio from RadioReference.com I could basically re-create the original mix I had first put together the previous November. I decided to start with LA since it seemed to have the most active scanner feed and after making that decision the name of the site quickly suggested itself to me. I spent a weekend writing some JavaScript, searching for chill tracks on SoundCloud and good background images on Flickr, and by Sunday evening I was ready to launch the site. After posting about it on Twitter and MeFi Projects, and telling a few friends about it, I went out to get dinner and do some laundry. By the time I came back, something amazing had happened: people were reposting the link all over Facebook and Twitter, sending me emails and @replies and just generally going nuts over the site!

My friend (and LA background image photographer!) Kara has collected a bunch of the press coverage of the site here:

http://hyperbolation.com/2011/03/you-are-listening-to-los-angeles/

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!

http://gizmodo.com/5834916/irene-emergency-radio-tracker-site-set-to-ambient-music-is-helpful-creepy

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:

http://youarelistening.to/deepthought

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!

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    Special thanks! Every dollar counts & we'll say thanks by adding a special "URL2.LA Founder" icon to your site & app account.

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    Stickers! We'll send send you a handful (10-15?) of tasteful URL2.LA stickers to adorn your laptop, iPad, bike, car, skateboard or body and let everyone know where your head is at! (and you'll also get the "URL2.LA Founder" status from the $1 reward)

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    Digital Album! Own a high-quality (FLAC/ALAC) version of the first official URL2.LA mix album, featuring music from dozens of the artists featured on the site, plus carefully selected scanner excerpts from around the world. Learn more about the included artists & the project itself from the extensive digital liner notes. (and you'll also get the "URL2.LA Founder" status from the $1 reward)

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    Physical Album! Travel back in time to the 20th Century with this optically encoded version (i.e. a CD) of the above digital mix album (which is also included so you don't have to bother ripping it). I will personally sign the packaging with some kind of antique writing implement. Also, there will be stickers. (and you'll also get the "URL2.LA Founder" status from the $1 reward)

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    Shirt! Are you wearing Los Angeles? You will be, with this minimal design silkscreened onto a high-quality t-shirt available in one of several sizes & cuts (#heyLadies). Design forthcoming, but rest assured... "You're going to like the way you look; I guarantee it." Stickers, digital album & "URL2.LA Founder" status will be included, naturally...

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    Tote Bag! What would a radio station fund-raiser be without a Tote Bag? Incomplete, that's what. Select this reward to get a stylish new friend for your collection of NPR Tote Bags. Design also forthcoming, but it will be "Totes Awesome" for sure. Stickers, digital album & "URL2.LA Founder" status will be included, naturally...

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    Shirt in a Bag! Can't decide between the Shirt & the Tote Bag? Don't want to cut holes in the bag & wear it as a shirt? We have a remedy... Get both! Plus the stickers, digital album & "URL2.LA Founder" status.

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    Megabox! The Shirt... The Tote Bag... The signed Physical Album... The Stickers... This box has it all! Also included is "URL2.LA Founder" status & my undying gratitude for making such a generous contribution!

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    Megasponsorship! Want to get all the URL2.LA rewards *and* show a little extra love? Megasponsorship includes everything in the Megabox reward *plus* lifetime membership in the "Founder's Circle" on the site & app "About" page. I'll also schedule 30 to 45 minutes of time for chatting on Skype (or in real life, if we find ourselves in the same city at some point) so if you have any questions or want to make some suggestions about the project, you will have my undivided attention. (Please note that I'm *always* up for chatting via email/IM/etc. without any money changing hands, so feel free to get in touch! The intention here was simply to dedicate some larger chunks of time to talking about the project during which I won't get distracted by emails, cell phones or HEY THAT DOG HAS A PUFFY TAIL!!)

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    Ultrasponsorship! Are you "committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world" or something like that? If so, why not become a URL2.LA "Ultrasponsor" and share that dream with the world? This includes exclusive placement & an outbound link on the URL2.LA site & app home screen for one month, as well as perpetual membership in the "Founder's Circle" on the "About" page. Also includes the full set of other rewards (Shirt, Bag, etc.) and the Skype / real-world chat thing from Megasponsorship.

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    Installation! Many people have asked about curating or participating in a URL2.LA live show or gallery installation & I agree that this would be super cool. On a personal level, it would also be super cool to meet some of the listeners all around the world who I've corresponded with in the past year, so if you have a space & want to stage a "You Are Listening" live event in your city, this is your chance. The price is inclusive of basic costs (i.e. portable sound system rental, projector & etc.) and I can travel within California for no additional fee. Outside of CA I'll also need basic (i.e. coach) airfare and lodging for for 3-4 days (hotels or comfortable couches are equally acceptable). We can also discuss additional expenses beyond what's included here if you want to throw a massive rave & have me parachute in or whatever. Also includes the full set of other rewards (Shirt, Bag, etc.)

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