Internet radio has come a long way since the early 2000s. Back then, services would let you select up to five artists to create a playlist and then pull a bunch of related songs. Sometimes, it would work; other times, you’d add some classic electronic artists and then end up hearing the intro to a Britney Spears song a half hour into listening.
Fortunately, services like Spotify made this early instability nearly obsolete. At the same time, although streaming services expose listeners to new music, let you customize what you hear, and give newer artists some exposure (think Spotify’s promotion for Cazzette’s debut album), there are two major drawbacks: One, a good deal of the music leans toward mainstream tracks, and two, independent artists don’t truly get exposure. Stockholm-based startup Revibe.fm looks to be changing this within the realm of electronic music.
Beginning in 2011, Revibe.fm transitioned into beta mode in Sweden in 2012; as of November 22, 2013, the service went live in all Nordic countries, with plans to eventually expand throughout the rest of Europe and possibly North America.
A few features position Revibe.fm as a streaming service that could eventually get the global attention of electronic music listeners and DJs alike. First off, the track selection – greater since launching, as Revibe.fm continues partnering with EDM-focused labels – encompasses more than your run-of-the-mill mainstream offerings. Their blog gives a partial snapshot of what’s already there and could continue to grow.
Two, Revibe.fm goes beyond just being a streaming service. Press statements highlight two DJing tools that make the track selection seem like more than a standard radio playlist: An automixer, which automatically beat-matches transitions between tracks, and a two-channel DJ mixer. While Revibe.fm’s creators claim this feature offers professional quality, it sticks with the basics: bass, mid, filter, volume, and crossfader functions, along with a small amount of effects and loops, BPM control with keylock option, headphone cueing, beatjump, cue points and mouse scratch.
Along with these aspects, an app form lets you access the music and features through iPhone and Android devices, although this is an extra charge (4.99 EUR on top of the monthly 5 EUR).
One of its three creators Johan Wallberg talked about Revibe.fm being the only niche streaming service out there and eventually creating a DJ community that allows new artists to be discovered. “Spotify is a bit like McDonald’s – it is for everyone,” he explained in an interview this past year. “Revibe is not. As I said before, Revibe is for people who want more than just the possibility to play some tracks on the subway on their way to work.”
However, contrary to this auspicious vision and solid start (20,000 users joined in beta mode), early reviewers found a few major issues that Revibe.fm looks to be correcting less than a month after its launch. Wired.co.uk, for instance, pointed out the service currently we supports MixVibes U-Mix Control Pro 2, beyond basic MIDI support, and the manual two-channel DJ mixer tends to be difficult to needle-drop effectively. The user, they claim, ends up getting better usage out of the automixer. As well, Revibe.fm is still browser based, which could pose connectivity issues.
At the same time, Wired.co.uk pointed out the library wasn’t up to par: Yes, the indie tracks are there, but classic and mainstream dance music weren’t present, beyond “karaoke” versions.
It appears, based on a Facebook update, that Revibe.fm has since started addressing these initial bugs. They’ve been licensing content from bigger EDM labels; while listeners might have to wait for Daft Punk or Swedish House Mafia, tracks from Well Done Music, Musical Freedom, Spinnin’ Records, Cr2 Records, Armada, Fedde Le Grand’s Flamingo Recordings, Size Records, and Afrojack’s Wall Recordings have been added. As well, Revibe.fm announced it will only include “official” releases in its library and has plans for featured playlists and improved DJ tools.
At the same time, even if Revibe.fm isn’t competing with Spotify, other DJ- and EDM-focused apps and tools have cropped up with similar functionality over the past year. Pulselocker, while more expensive overall, stands out with its try before you buy concept and greater, better-functioning DJ features. TheFuture.fm, similarly, uses a cloud-based radio format that gives DJs and producers the option of uploading mixes and podcasts. In addition, Mixify, which has grown significantly since we reviewed it in 2012, adds features for an artist to grow a fan base. Beyond refining its basic features, Revibe.fm needs to consider the DJ more beyond a handful of tools.
Based on Wallberg’s statements, the streaming service is now seeking more capital to launch a larger release in Europe. The early reports show promise, but to keep and hold attention, more fine-tuning and greater features are likely needed for Revibe.fm to cement itself.