A few days ago Ohdio was relaunched with a brand new design and an entirely new approach to enjoying the service. I have been a fan of Ohdio from the beginning and still believe it has a good chance of becoming successful even though the service hadn’t really found its strength until recently. This new approach reinvigorates not just general interest in the service but also its possibility of success. Not only that, it helps introduce Indonesians to a modern way to enjoy music.
Overseas, online music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Rdio are growing to accommodate and deliver a more modern way to enjoy music. Rather than having consumers download each song they want to listen to, these services stream music on demand. Ohdio joins this disruptive group of companies in providing music directly over the Internet without having to provide copies for consumers to keep.
When using Ohdio, the advantage is people don’t need to prepare storage space for all the music that they want to listen to. All they have to do is load the website, pick a mood, pick a playlist, and off they go. It’s a lot like radio but over the Internet. It has no show host, no programming, no schedule. Playlist is on demand but the songs are predetermined and cannot be selected individually. The service even works on some older BlackBerry phones.
Ohdio provides artist profiles but no song or album list to choose from. At the moment artist profiles are not accessible from mobile browsers but co-founder Ario Tamat said it’s a feature that’s coming. Eventually there will be feature parity between the mobile site and the regular site. Supposedly native apps are either on the way or being considered but unlikely be deployed in the near future.
When loading the website, visitors are provided with Ohdio Hits playlist and three main listening moods out of several that get rotated throughout the day. Each of the moods contain several playlists with songs that have been curated to fit the occasion, whether through genre, lyrics, origin of artists, beats, or other factors.
There are currently a few thousand songs in Ohdio, all Indonesian, spanning several generations. One of the reasons why there aren’t more in its selection is because the process to digitize Indonesian songs is complicated. While technically it’s just converting the master copies into digital formats, there’s a ton of work that needs to get done before those copies are even allowed to be anywhere near the digitizers. Today’s Manic Monday column described these issues in greater detail.
Ohdio CEO and co-founder Yoga Nandiwardhana told DailySocial that the playlists were put together mostly by the team as “the four of us are essentially music geeks that can throw playlists entirely in our sleep” but they have hired outside assistance from time to time to help with arranging the collections. Working with music directors and celebrities in putting together the playlists is something that is still in the cards. “A few well known names as curators would certainly be an appeal in itself”, said Nandiwardhana. It may even be a premium feature if they decide to go with that route.
Currently Ohdio is entirely free to use and there’s no difference between registering to the site, which it provides using Facebook Connect, or not registering at all, but this is still of course very early, even counting the fact that the service has been up now for a year. It’s not hard to imagine a future in which there will be different levels of services available to listeners depending on whether they register or not, or, if Ohdio ever becomes a freemium service, whether they pay a fee.
In its current incarnation, Ohdio is actually similar to iTunes Radio, the music streaming service that Apple previewed at this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference, but without the ability to see song details nor the a way to purchase songs. Being radio-like services, both have in-stream advertising which appear once in a while between songs. While Apple’s iAds already incorporate video advertising, Tamat said that it’s not something they would say no to but currently it’s not a focus for them, given that the company is currently only staffed by four people.
Marketing and promotional efforts are also things that the company has yet to spend much time on due to lack of resources. Tamat told DailySocial that the team had been focusing on refining the product and finding the right mix over the last few months and with only four people, it’s all about prioritizing. Now that the new version is out, it’s time for evaluation, processing feedback, identifying bugs that were missed, and completing the core feature set before anything else.
It’s not difficult to surmise that one of the reasons Ohdio doesn’t offer an option to purchase and download songs is due to licensing issues but as Nandiwardhana said, Ohdio is all about delivering radio experience online, so downloading is likely far from being a priority issue.
We asked Ohdio’s co-founders about its licensing arrangements with the labels and musicians, but they were unwilling to discuss anything specific other than what was published earlier by Tamat in his Manic Monday column. As for the new look of the service itself, Nandiwardhana said that he “wouldn’t call it an overhaul, a tweak is more like it… but being a radio-like service has always been in our roadmap”.
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