Media

MP3.com founder launches DAR.fm, a DVR for the radio

Michael Robertson, who already participated in one reinvention of the music business by founding MP3.com, is launching a new way to listen to talk radio and music.

His startup is called DAR.fm (DAR stands for “digital audio recorder”) and he demonstrated on-stage at the Launch conference in San Francisco today. Robertson compared the new service to what DVR does for television. Just as DVR lets you record many TV shows at any time, he said DAR.fm will allow you to record the radio shows that you care about.

The service browses radio stations that already broadcast their content online and lets you search that content by station or by show. Then you just select the shows that you want to hear, hit “record”, and at the appointed time DAR.fm makes the recording for you. DAR.fm allows you to listen to the recording when you want, either in your Web browser or on applications for iPhone, Android, and other phones.

It isn’t just a single, undigested recording either — Robertson showed that if you recorded a music station, DAR.fm would allow you to navigate between each song. In other words, it’s Internet radio with control that you won’t find in an application like Pandora. (Pandora, by the way, may be adding talk radio features in the future.)

But aren’t there legal issues with these recordings? Robertson said there’s legal precedent in the cable industry, with court cases protecting the right to make these recordings as long as viewers hit the record button, even if it’s a virtual record button hosted on a company’s servers.

Still, Robertson did close his presentation with a little speech about how the music industry hasn’t changed. Or at least the legal departments haven’t — they still want to sue everyone. (MP3.com was one of the first companies sued by the record industry.) Robertson said he’s hopeful that there will finally be some changes as CD sales “crater”.

“I swore to myself I’m not going to do another digital music thing, and here I am,” he said, turning to conference organizer Jason Calacanis and adding, “Thanks, Jason.”

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