It's been a while since I last wrote because I think if you don't have anything good to say, it's better say nothing. I was trying to write an article on how to make friends because at age 27... it's a whole new ball game.
Anyways today, I stumbled upon something that's really fantastic for me. Remember when internet radio first came out? We were pretty into that in the year 2000, weren't we? Then we started thinking we knew what was good music. We started downloading our own music for keeps (among random trojans from Kazaa, Limewire, and Napster haha). We started getting recommendations from Pandora and Last.fm. We started listening to our library of music on the cloud via Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, and Grooveshark. We started listening to curated playlists on SoundCloud, YouTube, Songza, and 8tracks. We started listening to trending music from Twitter and smart playlists (iTunes Radio) from Apple.
But with all that, I lost sight of one of the best types of music discovery, one that feels like travelling and understanding world cultures. It's listening to local radio across the world. I still remember lying in the lounge of a Bed and Breakfast in Rio De Janeiro thinking, wow they got some amazing music here. Things I never hear back home.
Sure you'll miss the human interaction, the food, the spontaneity, the sights, but music is a lot.
In London, my Italian friend proclaimed there are 3 things that make life worth living for: food, music, and people. And I think these things define cultures and societies.
So let me tell you about radio surfing...
When you're actually travelling or couch surfing, you're taking in all the place has to offer: the people, diet, architecture, sounds, beliefs, traditions, religion, language, sources of pride, stereotypes, etc. When you're radio surfing, you're honing in on music which reveals a lot about its culture as well.
In my search for novelty, I've pretty much exhausted all of the traditional means of music discovery. I feel like I've listened to every one of Songza's playlists. I feel like Pandora and iTunes Radio keeps playing me the same songs. 8tracks is quite good for music discovery but gives no sense of place.
My favourite way to discover music is now radio surfing. You do this by downloading the TuneIn Radio app and searching for a city you wish you were in. For example, I'm working out right now and I'd like some Euro beats. And I know those Scandinavians play some good techno (I think there's like a Swedish ukuza or something) so I did a search for Copenhagen. Found some good stuff. For example, a station called DR P3 93.9. I heard Holes, Friends, Young Volcanoes and Hard Out Here for the first time on it.
With TuneIn Radio, you can effectively travel to anywhere in the world instanteously and listen to their radio in REAL TIME in that moment! I've been using TuneIn since 2010 and saved a few of my favourite stations from my hometown and explored some radio stations in China. But when you're in the travel radio surfing mindset, everything is different. You're saying explicity, hey I want to hear what's happening in Berlin right now. I want to get the vibe there. And just like that, there's an audio portal connecting you to the place. I wish there was a visual tunnel I can just hook into.
This is very cool. The ability to jump through space. You can spend a night in Vienna anytime you want. Another night in Tokyo. You can even listen to talk radio stations for languages you're trying to improve. So for me, that would be Chinese and German.
So there's why radio surfing is great in bullets:
- you feel like you're in that city
- you discover a lot more new music
- you'll improve your foreign languages or hear new ones
Another fasincation of mine is video Skyping friends outdoors. For the past several years, all you could show your friends was your face and your bedroom. Now you can show them your streets and the outside world. It's amazing to see your friends out the real world and show them your moments wherever you are. I'm really happy to have unlimited 3G data.
If I have enough time this spring (I'm already working on a side project on the topic of sleep), I'd like to make a web app that combines daylight information, Google Map, and TuneIn radio. With this app, all you have to do is click on a city and it'll do a search for radio stations in the region and show you a list of radio stations. You can save radio stations on that map so you can see your colony of radio stations (hopefully the sun will never set on them). You also visually see if it's a night program or early morning one.
Pro-tip: If you ever feel homesick, just listen to your hometown radio station. It always makes me smile when they talk about the streets I know during traffic jam reports. "Oh that 880, should of taken the side street!"
By the way, if anyone wants to work on this app with me. Get in touch!