Cybertainment: Slacker reinvents itself; streaming audio rules

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There are plenty of good online music services, but Slacker has reinvented its image and is trying to offer the best features of all of them -- wide choice, music discovery, on-demand and customized listening and live DJs -- in one package.

Slacker, which launched in 2006, is touting itself as the most complete online music site, with more than 13 million songs and hundreds of stations to choose from. Music can be customized to the listener's individual tastes. And it offers something that mainstream radio has, but many online services don't, with real live DJs hosting on some of its channels.

The redesigned site's easy-to-use interface makes it easy to customize Slacker to individual tastes. The Fine Tune system -- a series of sliding controls on the display -- lets the listener adjust for older or newer songs, popular songs, favorites, and songs by similar artists -- giving the users more input on their likes and dislikes than the standard thumbs-up icon.

Slacker offers apps for the entire range of mobile devices -- iOS, Android, Windows Phones and BlackBerry.

Slacker is available in three levels. The free version gives the listener access to Slacker's impressive music library and diverse channel selection. Slacker Radio Plus ($3.99/month) is commercial-free and offers offline listening and unlimited song skips. Slacker Premium ($9.99/month) offers on-demand listening, where subscribers can search the collection and play any song they want to hear, and the ability to create custom playlists.

Streaming movies and TV shows get a lot of attention in the multimedia world, but streaming audio is drawing the lion's share of the audience, according to a survey by USA TouchPoints.

The survey included ages 18 to 64. It's not surprising that younger users ranked highest in streaming: Among 18- to 24-year-olds, 40 percent used radio and audio streaming, 15 percent watched TV shows and 11 percent watched movies.

Use of streaming media declined in proportion to the respondent's age, but streaming audio led in every age group. Even among the 54- to 64-year-olds, audio ranked 19 percent, compared with 3 percent each for movies and TV.

My Damn Channel has a new agreement with MSN Entertainment. The terms of the deal include licensing original series to MSN and the production of new original series.

Two new original comedies will premiere on MSN Entertainment in March and then will be available on My Damn Channel.

In "The Mark Malkoff Challenge," comedian and filmmaker Mark Malkoff, best known for watching more than 200 films on Netflix in one month, takes on a new challenge -- feats of bravery on the streets of New York

In "Life: A Gamer's Guide," viewers will learn how to apply gaming techniques to everyday life.

MSN Entertainment has ordered 13 episodes of each.

music - cybertainment

Adrian McCoy: or 412-263-1865.


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