Essentially, CBC Music is a free online radio platform featuring 40 stations that cover a wide-range of music genres. The site is also available as a free mobile app which means you can take CBC Music with you everywhere you go.
As a fairly active digital music consumer – I frequent iTunes, Rdio and Sirius Satellite radio online, as well as via their mobile-friendly apps – I have to say that I’m not terribly impressed with CBC Music. It took me almost five minutes to figure out how to navigate the radio stations and get the one I wanted to actually play. Then I found it quite odd that the site doesn’t tell you what track is playing at any given time. Even terrestrial radio in most modern cars has RDS (radio data systems) that display basic track info. NOTE: I notice that this feature isn’t available in my car when listening to CBC Radio 2 so maybe it’s a CBC issue.
Also, unlike many online radio stations you can’t toggle between tracks or skip ahead if you don’t like the track. So, essentially CBC Music is just CBC radio online…or is it.
If you take a deeper dive in to the site what you find is that the entire CBC music (small ‘m’) world has found its way online. Everything from live TV performances to full concerts ranging from City and Colour at the Calgary Folk Festival to more than 100 classical music performances are available on demand. You also find archived content from popular CBC properties such as Q and Strombo.
Overall I would say CBC Music is really just an enhanced online CBC Radio/TV experience. They have basically taken their terrestrial properties and digitized them while offering some pretty impressive archived material as well as accompanying editorial content ranging from interviews, exclusive performances and commentary from CBC personalities.
What makes the prospects for CBC Music interesting to me is the ability to use the platform to introduce listeners to new Canadian talent. Everyone agrees that terrestrial radio and the likes of MTV are no longer responsible for breaking new artists – these days this either happens on the road or online as bands/artists build their audiences one show or one click at a time. If CBC Music can somehow become ‘the’ place to go to discover up-and-coming Canadian talent then that could be the differentiator between them and the numerous other digital music communities out there. Another thing CBC Music has going for it is the price. It’s free.
At the end of the day, one has to wonder if anyone has truly mastered the online/digital music experience the way iTunes has for digital entertainment distribution. Perhaps the next big thing is just around the corner with music sharing pioneer Sean Parker poised to take his Spotify to the masses in the very near future.