Digital Top Stories

We7 relaunches, focuses on interactive radio

By | Published on Thursday 29 September 2011


Spotify competitor We7 will relaunch today, possibly in a bid to stop us calling it a “Spotify competitor”. From this point onwards it’ll be “Pandora rival”. Not that those two services will compete head on in the same markets, for the time being at least.

So yes, We7, the UK-based digital music company which has dabbled with various different services over the years, many of them ad-funded, is throwing all its energy behind its ‘interactive radio’ platform. This is not really a surprise, as the company brought that element of the We7 offer right to the front last November, positioning the Spotify-style on-demand music-player element of the site as a secondary service. From today, the on-demand function will only be available to premium subscribers, with the main We7 site only displaying the cleaner, stripped down radio option.

Like Pandora, We7’s interactive radio platform puts together bespoke playlists for people based on a nugget of information the user provides at the start, such as genre, artist or song. There is additional interactivity, in that users can skip songs, log whether they like or dislike a track, and select the next song to be played themselves up to 50 times a month (or an unlimited amount of times for paying subscribers). There are also two mobile apps, a free to use mobile version of the radio offering, and an on-demand app only available for use by top tier premium subscribers.

As previously reported, when they first pushed interactive radio forward as a primary service last year, the We7 team claimed that stats showed it was actually the most popular element of their offer already. Cynics will no doubt note that the licensing costs for this kind of service are considerably less than for a truly on-demand platform, and that is presumably also a motivation for focusing on this element.

Though it is also true that many music fans – and possibly most casual music consumers – find the scale of a service like Spotify off-putting, and would prefer some automated curation on their behalf. Plus, of course, the interactive radio service better distinguishes We7 from Spotify, which has never really cracked the curation and recommendation element of streaming music.

Anyway, here’s what We7 chief Steve Purdham says: “We7 is about creating a smart, personal and intimate listening experience. We believe people want radio stations that are personally tailored to them with the opportunity to occasionally request songs. It’s like having your own personal DJ who knows what you want to hear. As music streaming moves from early adopters to the mainstream we want to be at the forefront of delivering a simple and easy to use service that everybody can engage with”.