The frustration of hearing a good track on the radio but then never hearing it again could soon be a forgotten memory, thanks to a new music service from the digital radio wizards Pure. The king of DAB is launching a service called FlowSongs next week, which enables you to buy tracks directly from your radio as they're playing.
The service kicks off on Monday 16 August with a UK-based beta using Internet-connected radios. Rather than relying on information from the broadcaster, FlowSongs instead gets its information from song-recognition service Shazam; the guys you call when you can't remember the name of a song playing in the pub.
So, if you hear a track you like, which we'll admit is possibly a rare occurrence on commercial UK radio these days, you just need to push the button on your radio. Shazam will then consult its database, and if it recognises the track you'll be given the option to buy it.
According to Pure, it costs between 79p and £1.29 to purchase each track, which will then be yours to keep. As well as then being able to stream the track to your radio whenever you want at a bit-rate of 128Kb/sec, you'll also be able to download the track directly to a PC or Mac via a DRM-free 320Kb/sec MP3 file.
The service operates via an online hub at Pure's The Lounge website, where you set up an account for your Internet-connected radio, if you have one. Your radio then connects to this to stream your songs, or you can use the site to download the tracks to your machine.
"A lot of what we're trying to promote with this service is that you don't need to go to your computer," Pure's PR manager Vicky Deacon told THINQ. "You only need to go to your computer to register and set up the account in the first place, or to retrieve any downloads. You can also top up your account on the radio."
Although you need an Internet-connected radio to use the service, you can potentially still buy tracks from FM or DAB stations as well, as long as your radio is still hooked up to the net via WiFi.
Some of Pure's Internet-connected radios, of which there are currently five, also feature DAB and FM receivers. Deacon gives the example of the Evoke Flow (above). It has three context-sensitive touch-buttons," says Deacon, "and if it's connected to WiFi then the middle button is activated with the word Flow." You can then effectively use the FlowSongs service to identify a track you've heard on FM, DAB or Internet radio.
The music industry also appears to approve of the idea. PRS for Music's chief economist Will Page reckons FlowSongs "sows all the same seeds of success that YouTube offered back in the summer of 2006 by giving the fan instant gratification - you hear it, like it and now you can buy it.
"It's a truly remarkable step forward in the digital convergence story as well, making it easier for music fans to purchase what they are exposed to as well as ensuring the songwriter and artist gets paid."
If you fancy signing up for FlowSongs, then Pure tells us you'll get a 90-day free trial (not including the cost of songs), and after that you'll need to pay a £2.99 annual subscription fee in order to access Shazam's tagging service. Although the UK-exclusive beta kicks off next week, Pure says it's planning an "international roll out" later this year.