US satellite radio broadcaster Sirius XM is training its guns on Pandora with the launch of a new feature called MySXM.
The company is working with The Echo Nest and Omnifone on the feature, which the former describes as “the most sophisticated combination of expert human music curation and data-driven music discovery the industry has seen”.
Here’s how it works: when people are listening to one of 50+ SiriusXM Internet Radio channels, they can “take the reins” and customise it using slider bars to tweak the era, genre and other factors.
“For example, say a user is listening to ’80’s on 8′, but they want more early 80’s dance tunes. A few slider adjustments and they’re there,” explains The Echo Nest in a blog post.
“Our Taste Profiles are building a deep (anonymous) understanding of each MySXM user’s music preference and listening trends, while our Dynamic Playlisting engine helps to generate these curated and personalized channels based on hundreds of musical attributes, cultural attributes and custom radio programming rules established by SiriusXM’s expert curators.”
The feature has been some time in the making. Former Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin was talking about the idea early in 2012: “I can assure you that if our subscribers would like to have personalisation we’re going to give it to them,” he told a tech conference in January 2012. “There is satellite radio and it will expand and make that personalisation available, probably this year.”
The company didn’t quite hit that deadline, but MySXM could still be significant. Sirius XM ended 2012 with 23.9m subscribers in the US, posting annual revenues of $3.4bn. MySXM will be available within its iOS and Android apps, as well as its website and on other connected devices.
The new feature may spark a feisty response from Pandora though: the latter company has regularly complained that the satellite broadcaster’s royalty commitments are much less onerous than its own.
With MySXM bringing the two into even more direct competition, accusations of an un-level playing field can’t be far off.