We share our personal interests online, with our friends and the world. We tweet, update many social and professional networks, online – again, to show and display our likes, dislikes and opinions.

At a more musical level, there are ways in which we can share our musical interests – we create channels in online sites where our playlist is shared with our friends. We can even share and stream our current playlist via Windows Live Messenger and so on.

So, here’s the idea.

Could I have a way to share my playlist in my car, while driving, with other drivers in the vicinity/city?

Consider it like a personal FM station that anybody could create, filled with nothing else but the current playlist that is being played by a driver. Other drivers in the vicinity or in the city (if it is city-wide) could tune into these stations and continue listening to what they like, as long as the source playlist is on.

This is an idea that I have nurtured over a long time. As a music blogger (on my other blog!) I get sneak previews of unreleased music from time to time, from inside sources. Every time I play something spanking new in my car, on my way home from office, I used to think, ‘I may the ONLY one in Bangalore (or the whole damn country!) to listen to this soundtrack right now, on the road!’.

Yesterday, I was playing the brand new, unreleased, brilliantly techno remix of Dum Maaro Dum, from the soon-to-be released film of the same name, starring Abhishek Bachchan. It was on non-stop loop since it is incredibly catchy and builds on the iconic original smartly by not attempting a straight remix, but taking a pulsatingly different route. The same thought stuck me again – I could have been the only car driver in all of Bangalore to be listening to that song last evening.

Now, don’t ask me where I got that song – reliable sources, is all I can reveal! And I will not share a copy of the song with anyone either since it came as a privilege. In this scenario, I’d love that car contraption even more!

How would it work?

I’m not an engineer and I have very limited understanding on how things works in this space, but here goes.

The device/contraption could have 2 units – a receiver, for just tuning and listening and a beamer, for the music enthusiasts, to beam their playlist around. Both latch on to the car audio system (Somehow! Using internet? Perhaps!). People could opt for only the receiver, and that would enable them to scan for playlists in their vicinity and play them.

People who have the beamer could beam their current playlist around, for the benefit of other tuners around them.

How does this help anybody?

Receivers get fresh new channels of music, based on someone else’s musical sensibilities – one more interesting way to discover music. And they don’t need any gadget to do so – just a small receiver unit fitted to their car audio system.

Beamers get to showcase their musical sense in entirely unintrusive ways. You like some kind of music and this gives you an ability to share it with people. There is no file copying, file transfer involved – it is plain ol’ streaming where it matters the most…while driving.

In a way, this could be a musical (social) network built around cars! Eventually, people would talk/share updates about the best stations they have tuned in to and others could become fans too due to those updates. If we create own video-based media on YouTube…if we create our own text-based media on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc…why can’t we create our own music-based media in our cars? Yes, I do understand that the difference is that online, we (are supposed to) use content created by us, while here, we use others’ content to create our media. But, doesn’t this help in music discovery and eventually helping better sales of music titles?

Would music labels sue me for this?

Perhaps! I could end up like Shawn Fanning of Naspter, if this idea makes it big 😉 Or, music labels could see the opportunity in this idea, work with automobile and music hardware companies in making this happen and looking at interesting licensing and revenue streams out of this.

Car audio? You gotto be kidding me!

Not so sure. I spend almost 2+ hours driving every day. Music remains my No. 1 companion on any given drive and I incidentally hate driving, for the record. I’m sure we are all spending more and more time driving and chances are that we depend on music to alleviate the pressures of driving far more than we assume!

This idea is not entirely bizarre. There are people who are looking at ways to make this happen using assorted, interesting modes. Like this one, for instance. My idea is simply to make it legitimate and easy to use!

Pic courtesy El Mostrito, via Flickr.



11 thoughts on “A musical social network in your car?

  1. Music-based social networks already exist. People have mobiles (with data plans) to access them. Just plug the mobile in the car and we have exactly what you describe. What am I missing? If you’re talking about tight integration with the car music system, Pandora (http://blog.pandora.com/faq/contents/10012.html) and a few companies have done it in the West. India is still light years away from the West (we still don’t have frikking iTunes) and I don’t think we’re getting streamed music on our car device any time soon. Piracy is probably your best bet. 🙂

    1. Not so sure. Griffin’s product talks about streaming your own music (on your iPod) wirelessly to your car audio. I’m talking about streaming my iPod music to many other car drivers in the city!

      1. they talk about it that way because a) it’s illegal to broadcast in the FM radio frequency beyond a particular power level in the USA (and i’m sure in India too) and b) the antenna of the iTrip is necessarily reduced in power and transmission capability because of a).

        1. Which is why I was wondering if there could be an internet-enabled radio-style network that people could create, beam or tune into, from their cars. I’m sure services like MOG or Spotify may be planning this soon.

          1. i am thinking the licensing restrictions would be monstrously expensive if ever it comes into existence. no major music distribution company on earth would think of allowing people to share digital music (at least not in the future) – and anything that is powered by the independent music scene alone will be highly unlikely to be successful.

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