Sneak Peek: Slacker’s On-Demand Music Service

Tonight at the annual Pepcom holiday event in New York, Slacker will preview its new on-demand music service, a major upgrade to the existing application available on the Web, and on Android, Blackberry, and iOS phones. As long-time Slacker fans here at ZNF, we couldn’t be more excited about the launch. In addition to caching stations and enabling downloads of favorite tracks (available with today’s Slacker premium service), the new on-demand service will let users call up and play specific artists and songs at will. The new genre stations, pre-programmed by Slacker DJs, will provide details on the top station artists and songs, with an option to jump around to those tracks and others at any time. The search function will also provide more information on artists and songs, including what stations they’re programmed on, associated albums, etc. You’ll also be able to sort and play favorites easily, and there will be significantly more functionality for programming your own custom stations from any mobile interface.

Slacker is planning to roll out the on-demand upgrade in October. The company will continue to offer a free service tier, and users will be able to unlock higher tiers for a monthly fee: Slacker Plus at $3.99 per month and Slacker Premium (full on-demand functionality) at $9.99 per month.

I’ve always believed Slacker has the best feature set of any online music service. From the revolutionary offline caching function, to its customization capabilities, Slacker, in my opinion, outperforms the competition. However, its mobile implementations haven’t quite lived up to the browser experience, or to my dedicated Slacker hardware. And the interface has needed an update for some time. Assuming the new upgrade adds the necessary polish, along with the new features, Slacker should have itself a killer mobile music app.

UPDATE: The older Slacker Premium service, which I originally linked to in this post, is no longer available. If you’re interested, just hold out another month, and Slacker should have you covered with the new version.

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10 thoughts on “Sneak Peek: Slacker’s On-Demand Music Service”

  1. I’m curious to see if there will be an upgrade deal for recent subscribers. In July, I got Plus with the 1year prepay. Will I have to wait until my year is up before I can try this out?

  2. So what is the secret to upgrading to premium from Plus now? I went to the link mentioned, it would not let me add it to my cart, got live chat help and was simply told “it is not available any more”. To bad, I already have Napster so another $10 a month service is not in the cards. I’ll be sticking with Plus.

  3. FWIW, the link says “not found” and Google search leads to Premium page that says this tier level had been discontinued (which we knew about anyway).

    I’m in the same position as Brian though — my prepaid 1-year Plus expires 7/3/11, so lets hope Slacker has some prorated upgrade calculations behind the scenes :)

    P.S. Haven’t tried Slacker on Android yet (my Epic 4G isn’t activated at the moment), but I actually don’t have the problem with iTunes version. My only beef with Slacker and Pandora is that they, more often than not, crash on my 3rd gen iPod Touch after an hour or two.

  4. Interesting… the link was live when we posted and obviously Mari spoke to them about the package. But, honestly, they haven’t advertised/promoted that tier in a loooong time.

  5. “Interesting… the link was live when we posted and obviously Mari spoke to them about the package.”

    With this coming after the TiVo thing, I’m beginning to think the trend is for tech companies to cut customers out of the loop, and to just spend their time pitching ideas to tech bloggers that they have no intention of bringing to market.

  6. Yeah, it’s one reason I’m debating skipping CES this year. A ton of the stuff is announced in the days preceding the conference and many of the announced products are delayed or canceled. What’s the point in covering it all (and wasting away my work PTO)? I’d rather deal in the tangible – stuff we can use, touch today. (One reason why I passed on the TiVo+Samsung and TiVo+MoCA news.)

    Also related, we deal with far fewer PR people these days. ZNF is a hobby and it’s more fun without embargos and PR/vendor expectations or demands. And some reps/firms can’t be trusted – like Eye-Fi who pays bloggers for coverage, sullying all of us in the process. I told their PR folks today not to pitch us until/unless this practice has stopped.

    Having said all of that, we love Slacker and are both paying subscribers. Also, the Slacker folks and PR company are some of the select few we voluntarily choose to collaborate with – they’re good people. Despite whatever this communication breakdown is (which could be on us).

  7. “Yeah, it’s one reason I’m debating skipping CES this year.”

    Meh. If you’ve got the time and resources, why not go? 10% of the stuff there will actually be pretty interesting.

    And at a bare minimum, it’s always useful knowledge to know where the sales/marketing folks believe the world is headed…

  8. The link certainly was live earlier today. Guess they don’t want folks to sign on to the old Premium service before they launch the new one. In any case, I’ll see what I can find out about upgrade deals for current Slacker Plus subscribers in the meantime.

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