Meet MixRadio: Your Indie-Friendly Global Music Streamer

[Editor’s note – you can now stream a special Performer playlist on MixRadio, featuring great indie tracks from the past 5 years. Download the app and head to “Mixes” to check it out now]

While certainly not a new music streamer, MixRadio might be new to you, and is making a big splash this year. Available for free on iOS and Android, this one is heavily backed by 36 million tracks, and available in 31 countries without a subscription. So, why haven’t you heard of it? It’s been a long journey to here.

MixRadio is trying to be your new radio, tuned to your musical taste with just a few clicks. Think of it as a hybrid between Pandora and ad-supported Spotify, where your tastes “tune” what the service is playing. Using a mix of algorithms and personal “Mixes” (their term for playlists), MixRadio is laser-focused on serving you relevant music you may not have heard and uncovering goodies you may have forgotten about. Additionally, there are Mixes from music tastemakers for you to explore (including Performer). Another great feature is the ability to listen to almost two hours worth of your mixes offline.  This is a big deal for those of us who have been stuck at beach party without Wi-Fi or cell service.

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The actual origin of MixRadio was Peter Gabriel’s project in the late ’90s called OD2, which was a music distribution platform ahead of its time. In 2004, the project was purchased by Nokia, and the mobile product was developed by the handset maker in 2007 with a content partnership deal with the four major labels. It was then sold to Microsoft, and then later folded under the messaging app LINE Corporation in 2014. It’s been known by many names: Nokia MixRadio, Nokia Music, Nokia Music Store and OVI Music Store. Whatever it has been called, it has only been available on Windows phones and Nokia handsets until May of 2015, when it launched as an iOS and Android app.

How is a late entry into the crowded U.S. streaming market going to distinguish itself?

MixRadio is trying to become your go-to music discovery app. The company claims they are “the most personalized, easy to use, music streamer on the planet.” With very little friction to join, MixRadio should attract a ton new users interested in trying it out. However, as I am sure you’ve read before (cough, Taylor Swift, cough), “free” and “ad-supported” music streaming might be great for users, but it is an ongoing issue of contention with artists, labels, and publishers (you know, OUR READERS).

Speaking to CNN, Mike Bebel, the company’s COO, said, “What we are trying to do is remove all of the clutter and all the distance between music lovers and the music that they love.” When asked what MixRadio’s core mission is, Mr. Bebel said,  “The more you interact with the service, the more we understand your musical taste, and the more we deliver to you music that you love to discover, or rediscover music that you’ve always loved.”

One of the keys to MixRadio’s expertise is recognizing how it has penetrated markets like China and India, and has been able to deliver global music from outside to those users, while also licensing local music in the region. They are now effectively doing this in the U.S.

Early on, MixRadio used exclusive releases from artists like Green Day and Charli XCX to increase subscriptions, but has since backed off that strategy. When asked whether MixRadio would be continuing the practice of windowing, Mr. Bebel responded,  “We want to work with all artists around and the world, and in many cases, people don’t really know they love an artist until they have an opportunity to discover and experience them. We want to help artists bring the music they’re producing out to the world.”

Bebel added, “We want to help local artists, who maybe have just released music, get it into the hands and ears of our users globally. So, if you think of an artist that is just starting out, they have access to our user base, access to our promotional tools, and other opportunities we provide. They can deliver music to their fans through us, not only in their home market, but also around the world. So, we really represent an opportunity for up and coming artists…”

Here’s hoping this streamer will actually utilize and pay some respect to the millions of members of the independent music community who are releasing the vast majority of music used on these platforms. Performer will be reviewing MixRadio’s artist promotional tools more in-depth in an upcoming issue, but for now, try it out for yourself on Android or iOS by searching MixRadio and let us know what you think.

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-Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.

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