Scour tunes in to Web radio

Scour.com, known as one of the early pioneers of file-swapping services, partners with RadioCentral to launch a set of new online radio stations.

3 min read
Scour.com, known as one of the early pioneers of controversial file-swapping services such as Napster, is setting its sights on Internet radio.

Scour.com has partnered with online radio-programming provider RadioCentral and on Tuesday will launch three new Internet radio stations, offering music fans a choice of hip hop, electronic and rock music.

Scour's move into Internet radio comes as it tries to recover from legal troubles and bankruptcy woes that led to its takeover last year by peer-to-peer company CenterSpan Communications. CenterSpan purchased Scour's technology assets and kicked off a legal version of its service a few months later.

Under terms of the new deal, Portland, Ore.-based Scour will pay a monthly fee to San Francisco-based RadioCentral for the development and operation of its online radio services. Along with music tunes, Scour will offer consumers features such as information about artists and song titles.

"As far as the deal is concerned, it's actually pretty consistent with what's been happening with other online music providers," said Susan Kevorkian, an analyst at IDC. "It's one more way for Scour to attract and retain customers...and they'll be (better) in the long run."

Joel Kleinberg, senior brand manager for Scour.com, agreed, saying that "it seemed like the next reasonable step" to add Internet radio to the company's services.

"Besides allowing people to download files themselves, we wanted people while they're browsing to be able to listen to new stuff as well as encourage them towards downloads we thought they may enjoy," Kleinberg said. "It's a discovery process."

And while the deal is beneficial for Scour, it's also advantageous for RadioCentral, said IDC's Kevorkian. RadioCentral is still getting established and is looking to partner with affiliate sites to get a foothold on the Internet radio market.

Online radio is growing and has "become a success story as far as Internet distribution is concerned," Kevorkian said. "Not only are the services available for free, it's possible to reach an entirely different demographic than with just traditional radio."

Eric Rhoads, chief executive of RadioCentral, said that Internet radio--meaning radio created just for the Internet--is growing, because people who download are looking for alternatives.

"You're going to see a movement very similar to the movement that we saw in the 1970s when FM listening won over AM," Rhoads said. "We think there's a similar trend that's a shift like AM to FM; this is a shift from FM to Internet because now you can get more targeted, focused radio stations."

Kleinberg said that while the company does not insert any streamed ads, it does place banner ads. He said Scour targets a specific demographic, particularly men between the ages of 18 and 30, who have been using Scour's services in the past.

Founded in November 1999, RadioCentral creates customized interactive radio programs for Web sites and companies. RadioCentral's affiliates include About.com, A&E Television Network and EarthLink. In a separate announcement, the company said it created additional radio stations for EarthLink Radio, including hip hop, classic rock, electronica, slow jams and smooth jazz, bringing the total number of EarthLink Radio stations to 10. The new stations, according to RadioCentral, will also be launched Tuesday.