Internet radio is nothing new; nor are 'discovery' streaming services like last.fm and Pandora. But Awdio is something different: streaming of live music from the coolest clubs and venues from around the globe.
How Awdio began is one of those classic 'lightbulb moment start-ups'. Around two years ago, a couple of backpacking entrepreneurs, Vittorio Strigari and Ora-Ito, approached 50 clubs armed with nothing but enthusiasm and a one-page contract. Once home, they brought in a team of engineers to build the technology they required, raised some VC funding and, voilà, Awdio was a reality.
Here's how it works: if you're a club, you plug your mixing desk into Awdio's codec and hook that up to an Ethernet connection. A software manager determines when you are on and offline.
Meanwhile, the listener signs up for free at awdio.com. The Awdio player, highly reminiscent of a car stereo, is the gateway to the music: click on a club/venue that's online, and off you go.
Cost of set-up for venues is advertised as €2,500 but Awdio will install and bring it online for free if it agrees not to broadcast with anyone else or on its own site.
Listeners can link up to Awdio for free, though a "premium subscription" service is planned.
There are 195 clubs and venues signed up to the service, with a maximum of about 100 live at any one time. But it depends when you tune in, of course.
Clubs can decide when they participate and when they don't: there are always some artists who absolutely don't want to be broadcast on Awdio, in the same way as they don't want to be appear on iTunes.
While not guaranteeing a 100% solid web connections, Awdio reckons that in developed countries, there are no real issues with the streaming (which is between 150 and 200k/bits). In PSNE's experience, streams from Australia had the occasional interruption, but were soon restored.
There's a bigger plan for Awdio ("Owdio or Audio, we don't own the pronounciation"), of course: this sort of technology would make perfect sense in a live venue. It's easy to imagine those with no transport, or, well, no tickets, sitting at home listening to a band playing live from the O2 or the Sportpaleis, or wherever. The only reason the founders started by signing up nightclubs was because they were keen electronic music DJs themselves.
The even bigger picture is for Awdio to be the one place where live music is not only broadcast but stored. The company hints that it will develop an interface that will not only stream but record audio directly from the console in HD.
Awdio is working with DJ Monitor - a company that detects and reports broadcast music - to establish links to an online store so listeners can buy tracks they hear. "That's coming in a matter of weeks, whenever the artists give us permission on their sites," says CEO Jeff Lebecque. "The goal is to share the amount of money that's made with these downloads with the artists."
The ambition is already growing: in its biggest project so far, the site broadcast simultaneously from four stages at the UK's Big Chill Festival, using a specially developed mobile streamer (actually, a 'netbook' with Ethernet, WiFi and 3G compatibility, making hook-up with a touring artist far easier).
Meanwhile, PSNE is off to the S Bar in Australia. Hang on, I think I can actually hear one of the band setting the levels on his guitar…