As a reporter, it’s not often you ask an entrepreneur about their competitors’ products and they respond, on the record and without hesitation, “Just boring as hell.”
But that’s Thomas McAlevey. Regardless of whether you believe in what he’s doing, you do not walk away from a conversation unclear about his belief in what he’s doing.
His soon-to-launch music streaming service, Radical.fm, is more interesting than the likes of Pandora and Spotify, he says, meanwhile digital streaming’s terrestrial radio counterparts are lightyears behind. “What we’re doing completely demolishes the last walls terrestrial radio has been holding up as their last bastion of security,” he says.
Those are big claims. Today Radical.fm has opened up a new private “alpha” version of its HTML5 site to back them up. It is completely revamped since it’s first private alpha a year ago. The company spent that time tweaking its technology and adding Soundcloud integration so that streaming is seamless, uploading is simple, and the site’s key differentiator–individual radio streams called Radcasts–are ready to go.
Radcasts are the piece that will kill traditional broadcasters’ “last bastion of security.” Terrestrial radio clings to the idea that digital streaming will never replace the personal connection created by local talk radio personalities, likewise that algorithms will never fully replace human curation. But Radcasts allow anyone with an Internet connection to broadcast a live digital radio station. They can play music from Radical.fm’s 22 million-song catalog, interview guests, read aloud, pontificate, whatever. It’s a vehicle for live DJing, or live podcasts. And it’s free and legal.
“This gives the Internet a local connection and live personalities–they very thing traditional radio has said remains their domain,” McAlevey says, “We are going to blow this out of the water.”
That 22 million-song catalog is currently available in the US. The company will encourage independent artists to upload their own music as a promotional vehicle; those songs can be shared without limits internationally, so the service can be worldwide right away (if enough quality indie artists sign on to make it worthwhile). Then, as the company expands its licensing agreements, more regions will have access to the entire catalog. Radical.fm also has a team of music experts curating stations in around 70 different genres.
The site will launch out of private alpha mode in September. “It’s a rocket ship and it can beat up Spotify in terms of tech quality,” he says.
The company has done two seed rounds of venture backing from European angel investors and is in the middle of a bridge round that will carry it through the first quarter of next year, when Radical.fm will raise a Series A round of funding.