Yahoo! Music Radio

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Yahoo! Music Radio
File:Yahoo! Music Logo.png
Current Yahoo! Music Radio player.
Developer(s) LAUNCH Media (2001-2002)</br> Yahoo! (2002-2009)</br> CBS Radio (2009-Present)
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Type Broadcasting - Internet Radio service
Website LAUNCHcast

Yahoo! Music Radio (formerly known as LAUNCHcast) is an Internet radio service offered by CBS Radio through Yahoo! Music. The service, formerly offered by LAUNCH Media, and originally developed by Todd Beaupré and Jeff Boulter, debuted on November 11, 1999, and was purchased by Yahoo! in October, 2001. LAUNCHcast combined with CBS Radio beginning in February 16, 2009[1].


2001- 2009: LAUNCHcast powered by Yahoo! Music

LAUNCHcast allowed users to create personal radio stations or playlists of songs tailored to their musical tastes.

File:Launchcast logo.jpg
LAUNCHcast logo used until 2009.
To create a personal station, users rated music on a 4-star or 100-point (depending on one's preference) scale. The service used those ratings to create a personal station of songs based on a user's favorite genres, artists, albums, and songs. The generated playlist contained a combination of rated and recommended songs. The ratio of rated/recommended songs could be specified by each user, but by default it was 50/50.

A recommendation engine suggested songs that might have matched a user's particular musical taste according to the following similarity criteria:

  • Songs from the same artist
  • Songs from the same album
  • Songs from the same genre
  • Songs recommended by users with similar musical tastes
  • Songs recommended by Yahoo!

Users were not required to participate in the ratings system to listen to music. Pre-programmed stations based on theme, genre, or artist were available throughout the Yahoo! Music website.

Music videos could also be rated, allowing users to create personal music video channels as well. For legal reasons, specific songs could not be played whenever one wished. However, videos could be. The service could generate a personal video channel based on a single selection.

Users also have the option to turn off explicit lyrics while listening to their customized stations.

Free accounts

Users could share their personal stations publicly and listen to other users' stations.

File:Yahoo LAUNCHcast.png
Yahoo! Music LAUNCHcast logo used from 2005 to 2009.

When LAUNCHcast plus was implemented in 2003, music was available for streaming for free at "Low" or "Medium" quality; although in 2007, these were combined into "Standard".

Between tracks, free accounts would hear commercial advertising for the Yahoo! service and its partners and affiliates. The advertisements were generally 30 seconds.

In 2007 Yahoo! added permanent banner ads to the LAUNCHcast player. Because Launchcast was only compatible with Internet Explorer, which charges for its banner ad blocker, users must either tolerate the banner ads or pay to block them. An alternative was to use the Yahoo! Music Engine, which was called Jukebox in version 2 of the same software. The Jukebox was unable to stream music anymore following September 2008, although it remained available for download well into the following year.

Limited skipping was available, at up to 5 skips per hour. Previously, banning a song skipped the song automatically, but this was removed. If the skips were not used in the previous hour, they did not roll over.

Free accounts were limited to playing up to 1000 songs/mo (up to 120,000/yr) without any special restrictions. A song could be skipped to bypass an undesired track, but skipped songs counted against the monthly allowance. If a free account user exceeds the monthly limit, the user would no longer be able to listen to LAUNCHcast radio for the remainder of the month, although they could listen to their personal station with no skips. Like skips, songs did not roll over to the next month. This won't be the case when LAUNCHcast is powered by CBS as it will provide unlimited listening.

Free users had access to only specific stations labeled "free". Such stations had a yellow headphones icon whereas premium stations had a blue plus icon.

Pausing was only possible after 30 seconds into the song, although a song could be skipped before the 30 seconds by pressing "stop" and then starting the station again.

LAUNCHcast Plus

In early 2003, Yahoo! has introduced a premium version of the LAUNCHcast service called LAUNCHcast Plus. Some users subscribed to this service on a monthly ($3.99/mo [$47.88/yr]) or annual basis ($35.88/yr [$2.99/mo]), or it came as bundled software from some ISPs (included in price) such as Verizon Yahoo! online services. In addition to the features offered by the free account, LAUNCHcast Plus users received the following additional benefits:

  1. "High" quality sound (CD-quality)
  2. No commercials or banner ads
  3. Access to all LAUNCHcast pre-programmed stations
  4. Unlimited skipping
  5. Unlimited monthly listening
  6. Access to all artists, songs, and albums (subject to licensing restrictions by country)
  7. The ability to designate other user's stations as "influencers" of one's own personal radio station
  8. The ability to create "moods" (genre-based subsets of a user's personal radio station)
  9. Pausing whenever you want

LAUNCHcast Plus was only offered in the US and Canada through Yahoo. On November 2, 2008, Verizon Yahoo! announced via e-mail that certain services would be discontinued including LAUNCHcast Plus. In an e-mail delivered in January 2009, Yahoo states "the LAUNCHcast Plus premium service will be closing on February 12, 2009." [2]. LAUNCHcast Plus was available to AT&T and Verizon subscribers at no charge previously.

2009 - current: LAUNCHcast/Yahoo! Music Radio powered by CBS

File:Launchcast CBS.png
LAUNCHcast powered by CBS Radio logo used until September 2009.
With the rise of royalty rates, Yahoo! has inked a deal with CBS Radio to power LAUNCHcast. Its 150 pre-programmed stations (lineup subject to change) as well as CBS's local music, news/talk, and sports stations are made available to all Yahoo! listeners. Personalized stations are no longer available, neither is the LAUNCHcast plus premium service. However, listeners still have the option to listen to those stations in high quality (broadband) audio as well as using the 6 skips-per-hour (not applicable on local stations).

Listeners are allowed to use the out-of-five rating feature that influences the stations. While banning a song entirely is impossible, giving a song a one-star rating will have it played very rarely. The rating tool was discontinued from the Yahoo! Music Radio player as of September 21 for a time until it was restored on November 2. Ratings in the new player are not yet be saved back into Yahoo! users listings, so until Yahoo! Music and CBS Radio associate radio ratings with their profiles, Yahoo! encourages users to rate songs, artists, and albums throughout their site as well as through their recommendations based on their tastes. As previously, play-on-demand is not provided, as with rewind, playback, and fast-forward.

Many ads can be skipped. However, some cannot and many disable all buttons, forcing the listener to hear the ad before any music is played. Ads which can be skipped have no label or video. However, skipping ads accounts toward the hourly skip limit. Ads disabling all buttons are, as of March 2009, advertising hair products. Such ads often play upon the player's launch, and some of them have a video. An occasional Nesquik ad disables the pause and skip buttons, but the channel can be changed.

As with the old service, unused skips do not roll-over.

For the first time, LAUNCHcast powered by CBS Radio will also be available to Firefox and Safari users.[3] It is also available as an app on the iPhone.[4]

The fan radio feature has returned to LAUNCHcast 5 months after CBS' takeover. Listeners can access the fan stations in the artist page by clicking on the "Artist Radio" link that corresponds with the artist/group. They also have the option to type in their favorite artist in the player itself.

Unlike its previous service, Yahoo! Radio by CBS does not have the option for users to turn off explicit lyrics. Although a hard rock or a hip-hop station may have edited content, some explicit songs maybe mixed in there. The user must either tolerate such raw language, skip the song, or change the station.

Since the merger, the LAUNCHcast branding has slowly diminished, although LAUNCHcast is still verbally mentioned during some of their commercial breaks.

Geographic availability

The free version of LAUNCHcast was available in most areas of the world. However, content was varied by country due to music licensing restrictions.[citation needed]

The LAUNCHcast Plus premium service was widely available in the United States and Canada. In the United Kingdom it was restricted to BT Yahoo! Internet customers.[citation needed]

In Canada, LAUNCHcast and LAUNCHcast Plus was dismantled altogether as of April 15, 2009.[5] In Australia, their LAUNCHcast service was rebranded "Yahoo! Music Radio" until they dismantled it in July 7, 2009. Many other countries followed suit prior to the relaunch of Yahoo! Music worldwide sites.

Technological requirements

The LAUNCHcast music player (from development date to February 2009) required Microsoft's Windows Media Player 9.0 or higher to function, although it could not be streamed from the Windows Media Player itself. Before the merger with CBS Radio, LAUNCHcast only worked with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6.0 and up web browser with Flash 6.0 or higher, and in Yahoo!'s Messenger and Music Engine programs on the Microsoft Windows operating system 98, ME, 2000 Professional, XP (Home and Professional). LAUNCHcast did not load properly using a Firefox web browser. According to Yahoo!, the LAUNCHcast music player was not compatible with the Mac OS X or Linux operating systems, however as of February 16, 2009; this may not be the case. Yahoo! stated that following CBS's acquisition, loading the player in Firefox may become possible.

Since the relaunch of LAUNCHcast by CBS, users are only required to download the latest Flash Player plug-in (currently Version 10). See external links (below) for Yahoo's help page on system requirements.

Legal troubles

On April 27, 2007, Yahoo! defeated Sony BMG in a copyright infringement lawsuit involving LAUNCHcast's personalization features[6]. At issue was whether or not LAUNCHcast's "personal radio station" constitutes an "interactive" service, which requires a negotiated license agreement with a record company, or a "non-interactive" service, which requires a cheaper "compulsory license" from SoundExchange. In an "interactive" service, users can play songs on demand, but with LAUNCHcast they can only influence whether or not a particular song appears in their station.

After a six-year litigation, a jury decided that LAUNCHcast was not required to negotiate licenses as an "interactive" service, and that the service's compulsory licenses as a "non-interactive" service were sufficient. The plaintiffs appealed the decision but on August 21, 2009 the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the lower court's decision, finding that users did not have sufficient control over the playlists generated by LAUNCHcast to render it an "interactive service".[7]

See also


External links