License This

Yesterday I wondered aloud whether new Tivo-like audio recorders, capable of downloading content via satellite broadcasts, could evolve into personal or niche radio networks. Today I’ll look at one of the downstream developments that would have to occur first — gathering content into manageable pools in order to present big distributors — whether wired or wireless — a place into which to dip their pipes.

Let me briefly point to several developments.

I recently stumbled across Audio Network Plc., a British startup that seems to act as a clearinghouse where musical artists can register and display works for subsequent licensing to film, television and multimedia buyers. To give a sense for the scale of the enterprise, in January the firm announced that it had sold a 7 percent stake for a venture investment of 250,000 pounds sterling.

Another interesting model in the audio realm is, which might be described as a collection point for producers and buyers of radio documentaries of the style exemplified by National Public Radio. PRX has four classes of membership: free peers, paid individuals and groups ($50 & $150 annually) and stations which are asked to buy into this content repository on a sliding scale based on listenership. Stay in touch with developments at PRX through its blog.

Just the other day I discovered the Real Public Radio Network, or RPRN, which describes itself as “a community of content creators and consumers using a Java driven, Internet based content management, licensing, distribution (system), (featuring) member rated content, discussion, collaboration, accounting and value distribution … wrapped in an easy to use web based interface (and) formed as a non profit, non partisan, free speech driven corporation.”

That mouthful is extracted from the synopsis posted by RPRN architect Scott Converse, an Apple Computer veteran (turned academician // ERROR corrected 24 April 05 // confused this Scott Converse with another person //) who has some interesting theories about disruptive technologies — in addition to creating such a disruptive event through RPRN. Scott posted his mission statement on the Omidyar Network, the incubator site instigated by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar — who is worth many stories but not by me, at least not today.

My point is that developments such as these and others previously noted, such as and are important steps on the road to creating focused markets (even non-profits need markets!) for what I call Mini Media content. Tomorrow I want to suggest that one of the future steps along grassroots media’s current evolutionary path may be the rediscovery of brick & mortar.

(PS: Earlier this week I met Ourmedia co-founder Marc Canter at a dinner organized by Web TV thinker Jeff Ubois. Marc said Ourmedia’s launch is late but looming)

Tom Abate
Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media