The Mother Corp threw something of a curve ball today, with the launch of CBC Music, described as “Canada’s free new digital music service.”
It comprises a web site – cbcmusic.ca – and a free app, available at iTunes, for the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.
The new music service was announced in a news release issued, interestingly enough, through Canada Newswire (looks like they were hoping other media would pick up the story, though I’m not sure if they were successful). Here’s how the corporation describes CBC Music:
“…a free new digital music service designed to connect Canadians to the music they love. With a choice of 40 different web radio stations, 14 distinct genre-based communities, and music from nearly 1,000 major and independent music companies, CBC Music provides listeners with access to the very best Canadian and International music. Featuring original content from the most knowledgeable and experienced music personalities and programmers from across the country, hundreds of concerts, features, blogs, playlists, and more, the new music service is a place for music lovers to explore, discover and connect with other music fans.”
“As a modern public broadcaster, we're proud to bring this rich digital experience to Canadians, using the knowledge, content and extensive music collection that only CBC can offer,” said Chris Boyce, a higher-up with CBC.
Not surprisingly, there is a lot of cross-promotion on the page, with CBC’s own programs and personalities. You can access music features that originate on the network, such as Jian Ghomeshi’s Q interview with The Black Keys and George Stroumboulopoulus’s interview with Adam Cohen, son of Leonard.
There’s unexpected stuff too, like five random songs from Don Cherry’s iPod (everything from Frank Sinatra to Deadmau5), but all content is cleverly cross-pollinated with CBC programs and personalities. You can even live stream CBC Radio2 and Radio3, the online music channel (I don’t see Radio1 there, presumably because that’s primarily talk, with not so much music).
I got right down to business. I downloaded the CBC Music app at iTunes, then updated my iPhone.
It works like a charm. The genres are clearly laid out: Classical, Jazz, Singer-Songwriter, World, Rock, Pop, Blues, R&B, Soul, Hip Hop, Aboriginal, Country, Electronic and Complete Cohen. (Yes, an all-Cohen channel. I know a lot of people who will go nuts for that one.)
Some have subdirectories, to more precisely match your musical tastes. For example, the Rock genre is divided into four genres: Indie, Rock, Rock Classics, and Hard Rock.
Out of curiosity, I clicked Hard Rock. Whoa. They aren’t kidding. This aint your father’s – or even your grandfather’s – hard rock. It’s pretty heavy. I heard “Who We Are” by Machine Head, “With the Fire” by Fozzy, and “Dirty’s Back” by Baptized in Blood.
I must be getting old. The Hard Rock channel was a bit too hard for me. So I retreated to rock, and found some comfort there, with tunes from Three Days Grace, Rush, Sheepdogs, Used, and more. Nice, edgy rock, without the cloven hoofs and thrash.
Other genres of note include Pop, which has seven sub-genres: Pop 40, Adult Pop, Adult Alternative, Jukebox Favourites, The 70s, The 80s and The 90s. Some good variety there, too.
Classical has 10 sub-genres: Essential Classics, Operatic, Baroque, Radio2 Classical, Modern Masters, Orchestral, Piano, Glenn Gould Sampler, CBC Records, and Canadian Composers.
One of the advantages of Internet radio is the information panel, which usually tells you the artist and song title, and that’s the case here. It even tells you the album from which the track is lifted, which is all very helpful when you hear something new that you really like.
And there is not an advertisement to be heard in any of it – none that I heard, anyway.
I’m pretty excited about this new service, and wrapping my head around how I’ll be making use of it. I like to work out with hard rock playing on the iPod, but I also like to be surprised by what comes next, and sometimes even the shuttle setting doesn’t cut it. The Rock channel is going to be ideal for that.
And if I’m having dinner guests, all I need do is identify a genre that works for everyone, set it and forget it – music for the rest of the evening, without changing discs or playlists.
Check out cbcmusic.ca. I’m giving it two thumbs up.