There are a few developments in the world of on-line music that have got me all geeked up of late. I mentioned in my year-end post the glory of the MP3 blog. Thanks to people who are much hipper and better connected than I can ever hope to be, I’ve managed to develop some idea of what is going on in the alternative music world.

The second development that I think is great is the growth of quality, streamed music options. There have always been funky, cool radio stations who streamed their materials. However, they were often difficult to find, some outlets used odd formats for sharing their audio, and were generally low budget afterthoughts making the streams erratic at best. That’s changing as non-mainstream outlets attempt to find a voice in the corporate radio dominated world. There are a number of excellent alternative stations that now provide high quality streams, often without commercial interruption. WOXY and KEXP are two streams I’ve been listening to a lot lately.

Finally, for several months, I had been reading all about the phenomenon known as Podcasting. I won’t go into the guts of the medium here (check the link for that) but basically Podcasting is a method in which any Joe or Jane Blow can record and disseminate their own audio broadcast. Think of it as audio-blogging, which I’ve done on occasion, only on a grander scale. The nascent format already provides interesting programs that cover almost any topic you can think of. Most are definitely amateur in quality, laden with poor audio, nervous laughter, and minimal production, but therein lies the beauty of the format. You don’t have to have the perfect radio voice, an expensive recording studio, or even a distinct format. Fire up some audio editing software and you’ve got yourself a show.

(A quick aside, contrary to what the name may lead you to believe, you need neither a Mac nor an iPod to listen to Podcasts. It just happens that one of the driving forces behind Podcasting is a Mac geek. Check the article linked above to see who that person is. Who knew an 80s quasi-celebrity could make good in such a cool way?)

I know what many of my regular readers are thinking. “This sounds right up your alley! When should we expect to see your Podcast posted?” Well, funny little problem with Podcasting: the RIAA is already getting involved. While there have been no crackdowns yet, I’m sure soon we’ll be hearing about some 15 year old kid that records a podcast in his bedroom in Kansas getting arrested for illegally using copyrighted music. As cool as the concept is to me, I’m not ready to drop $300 on an RIAA license to legally use music. It’s one thing to file share. It’s another to slap something on a server that can be traced directly to you and basically beg the lawyers to shut you down. So sadly my broadcasting career will have to wait until either the rules change, I take over IUPUI’s broadcasting facilities, or, of course, I win big in the lottery.

For the time being, I’ll continue to listen to shows like Insomnia Radio, Preserves, Jellies, and Jams, Each Note Secure. Most programs lean to the indie and unsigned side of music, but they’re opening a whole world of music that I would probably never come into contact with otherwise. It’s certainly not music that’s played over the air here in Indy, nor stuff played on the Music Choice channels on our cable system.