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AccuRadio (“Better radio for your workday”) offers over 975 expertly-curated channels of rock, pop, R&B, jazz, country, classical, pop standards, Broadway, Christmas music, world music, and more, targeting an upscale, educated, at-work P35-64 demographic.  AccuRadio is America’s fastest-growing music-based webcaster according to the past six months (January-June 2015) of Triton ...

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Jeff Greene
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AccuRadio Tackles the Tyranny of Choice, Offers Easy Interface and Unexpected Pleasures

“It’s always been a challenge to make it simple to access 975 channels across 60 genres,” admitted AccuRadio Chief Technology Officer Michael Schmitt. His team designed the platform for what has now become over 3.2 million listeners from all demographics—listeners with varying amounts of time and attention to invest in choosing music. AccuRadio standing as today’s fastest-growing webcaster* is driven by its easy and intuitive user interface.

To achieve this, AccuRadio tackles the tyranny of choice. You’d think people would want unlimited options to cherry-pick precise preferences, but that can be daunting and time-consuming. Schmitt’s mission is to make it effortless to access the music that satisfies listeners most—not necessarily what they think they want.

Employers, take note: AccuRadio’s core audience is educated professionals 35 to 64. The right music can boost worker productivity, providing an atmospheric shot in the arm. The powerful person selecting an office’s soundtrack wants to uncap the music and let it flow, not fiddle with it. Typing in artists’ names or experimenting with customizable playlists seems like a lot of work—the last thing people want when they’re doing their actual work. AccuRadio takes off the pressure. One idea:  Magic Sunny After Lunch Energy—Adult pop hits to help you power through your afternoon, which plays songs by Adele, Matchbox 20, Natalie Imbruglia, and others.

Selecting pre-built channels spotlights what’s requested yet also invites listeners to browse and parse and discover. AccuRadio’s curators decide which songs are similar enough to bundle together and which ones are lovable enough to broadcast at all. AccuRadio’s homepage first shows about 12 channels to choose from, with 80 or so more when the user scrolls down.  Even if it looks like a long list, compared to a single search box, tests have shown it’s the right number of options for people to see breadth but also hone in on what a group would most likely prefer. Colorful photos denoting channels on a distinctive plum-colored background are explanatory, inviting, and just plain pretty. And AccuRadio delivers with the fewest possible clicks.

Schmitt, who is 27, said that while a lot of music services look super-clean with ample white space, “it turns out aping what they’re doing is not the way to go. If we expect users to start with only a search box, they’ll freeze up or type in only one band name. The result isn’t likely to keep them listening for hours. When we suggest categories, they find channels that make them happier—that please more of the people more of the time.” One result of this “let it ride” model: AccuRadio users’ average time listening in a session is about three times longer than Pandora’s or Spotify’s.  

Schmitt described how subscription or pay-on-demand listening services “have historically attracted mainly hard-core fans seeking tracks by performers they already know,” he said. “People who can rattle off their top 10 favorite albums. But AccuRadio is a free product that appeals to people who just want to appropriate background music that makes them smile.” Over five years of user testing have shown that when asked what they like to hear, the majority say they like something they can work to, or dance to, or jog to—not specific artists.

When a user searches by an artist’s name, AccuRadio delivers a cohesive mix beginning with a track by that artist. For example, entering Elton John yields dozens of applicable channels, including Classic Rocktopia (with “Bennie and the Jets” as the first song, followed by selections from Talking Heads and Supertramp) as well as Magic Sunny Hit Mix (with “Your Song” playing first, followed by hits from the Beatles and Whitney Houston). Searching for Green Day brings up channels including 1990s Alternative (with “Brain Stew” first, then songs by Nirvana and Limp Bizkit) and Running Music: 6-minute Mile (starting with “Brat,” then AC/DC and Los Lonely Boys selections).

If channels almost suit people’s tastes but don’t quite, they can ban artists, delete specific songs, or just use the skip button. And they can mark channels as favorites to return to them quickly.

Although AccuRadio has seen its greatest growth among desktop users, its mobile app works perfectly well. If an app user’s car has an auxiliary jack, she can connect her phone or mediaplayer to her car stereo and use the skip or volume controls on her dashboard or steering wheel. And Schmitt’s team continues to pursue the best balance between displaying simply on the smallest of screens and offering AccuRadio’s virtually bottomless well of great music. The research continues.

*https://www.tritondigital.com/press-releases/triton-digital-releases-january-2015-top-20-ranker

About AccuRadio:

AccuRadio offers over 975 expertly-curated channels of rock, pop, R&B, jazz, country, classical, pop standards, Broadway, Christmas music, world music, and more, targeting an upscale, educated, at-work P35-64 demographic.  AccuRadio is America’s fastest-growing music-based webcaster according to the past six months (January-June 2015) of Triton Digital’s “Webcast Metrics Top 20” monthly rankers in terms of year-over-year growth rate (Average Active Sessions, Mon.-Sun. 6a-12m, domestic).  AccuRadio also consistently has the highest Average Time Spent Listening (ATSL) of all personalizable radio brands. Each month, over a million unique listeners (largely in the U.S., Canada, and Japan) tune into AccuRadio via its website (www.accuradio.com) and its top-rated mobile apps.