Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 24, 2010 11:30 AM
America's venerable public radio brand, NPR, is going mobile with a new iPhone app this week.
On-air and online, NPR is increasingly showcasing artists who don’t always get commercial airplay such as soprano Renée Fleming, LCD Soundsystem founder James Murphy and jazz musician Fred Hersch, along with bigger names such as Moby, who created the above song with his collaborator, Kelli Scarr, as part of NPR Music's Project Song.
The NPR music site launched in 2007 and has grown into a digital hub with the power to boost independent performers (witness its recent Bonnaroo music festival coverage) at a time when the music industry is flailing.
At first, management was hesitant to commit to multi-genre music programming, but a steady and growing audience convinced them otherwise and the site now includes jazz, hip-hop, rock, R&B, world, classical—and soon, Latin—with a record 1.7 million unique users last month.
“We’re playing to the reputation that we have as tastemakers, helping people find unusual things they may not come across otherwise,” Kinsey Wilson, NPR’s GM of digital media, tells the New York Times.
The NPR Music App combines editorial and audio for iPhone and iPod touch, is organized by genre with a directory that leverages NPR Music’s entire artist archive of 5,000 bands, musicians and singers, and streams live music from its 75-plus member radio stations.
NPR Music’s regular programs are also accessible, including signature All Songs Considered; Song of the Day, World Cafe from WXPN in Philadelphia, Live at the Village Vanguard, and Exclusive First Listen, which offers sneak listens of pre-release albums. In a boon to music lovers and explorers, its playlists are customizable. An Android version is in the works, too.
Tiny Desk Concerts, short performances which have been filmed at NPR’s Washington HQ since 2008, will continue. Recently guest Weird Al Yankovic says "when you’re performing on NPR or appearing on NPR, you’re getting exposure that you might not otherwise be getting."
Veteran music publicist Lois Najarian O’Neill adds that getting on NPR Music “feels like a pure, unadulterated and credible endorsement from a press outlet.”
An alternative to illegal downloads, tastefully curated, broadly programmed — NPR Music is, all things considered, a smart enhancement to the NPR brand.