AOL Radio powered by Slacker (formerly AOL Radio powered by CBS Radio, and prior AOL Radio featuring XM) was an online radio service available in the United States only. It had over 200 free internet radio stations.
AOL Radio can trace its roots to two companies it acquired on June 1, 1999, for $400 million: Spinner.com and Nullsoft. Spinner.com was formerly known as TheDJ.com. Nullsoft was the maker of the popular Winamp and SHOUTcast products. Both new organizations operated out of the same office in San Francisco. The Spinner.com brand was retired in July 2003.
AOL Radio launched as Radio@AOL, essentially a rebranded Spinner.com, using technology from RealNetworks on October 16, 2001 as part of the AOL 7.0 software announced that same day.
Initially, Radio@AOL was available only to AOL members. On May 22, 2002, AOL released the free Radio@Netscape for non-members as part of the new Netscape 7.0 browser. On August 22, 2002, AOL released Radio@Netscape Plus. Beginning in 2004, AOL started metering Radio@Netscape to allow only two hours of usage per day. AOL did this to avoid paying copyright royalties and to encourage users to become AOL members.
On November 28, 2007, AOL announced that they might shut down their web radio services after a 38 percent increase in royalties to air music. Yahoo! and AOL discontinued directing users to their radio sites after SoundExchange, the non-profit performance rights organization that collects royalties on the behalf of sound recording copyright owners (SRCOs) and featured artists for non-interactive digital transmissions, began collecting the higher fees in July.
Partnership with CBS Radio
On February 4, 2010, AOL Radio banned users outside the U.S. from streaming online radio. An error message pointed to Last FM. "We're sorry, this station is unavailable from your current location. Instead, enjoy listening to...." Later AOL Radio content became featured on CBS Radio's Radio.com when the site launched.
Partnership with Slacker
In October 2011, AOL ended its partnership with CBS Radio and became partners with Slacker. They now offer a subscription plan. This new format allows songs to be favorited or banned (rather than using an out-of-five rating system) and allows artists to be banned altogether. In July 2013, AOL Radio updated the site's look to match that of its parent company Slacker Radio. AOL Radio was merged with Slacker Radio and discontinued on December 1, 2017.
On November 18, 2002, AOL introduced Broadband Radio@AOL. Broadband Radio@AOL was built into the AOL 8.0 software, and was the first AOL Radio offering based on the AOL streaming technology Ultravox. By 2003, AOL had migrated most of its AOL Radio products to Ultravox. It was released in the UK on October 20, 2003.
On April 11, 2005, AOL and XM Satellite Radio joined together to create Radio@AOL featuring XM. At the same time, AOL consolidated Radio@AOL and Radio@Netscape as "Radio@AOL featuring XM". This service was available to AOL members and non-members alike, with twenty XM channels offered (fifty more XM channels require a paying AOL subscription). Later in 2005, AOL changed the name of Radio@AOL to AOL Radio to align itself with the AOL Music branding. In July 2005, a web version of AOL Radio was introduced for non-members with unlimited listening. At the end of 2005, Radio@Netscape was officially retired, with AOL Radio being the official brand.
On April 30, 2008, AOL and XM Satellite Radio announced the end of their partnership and the beginning of the new partnership between AOL and CBS Radio. The partnership between AOL and CBS Radio would give AOL access to over 150 of CBS Radio's terrestrial stations.
On June 10, 2008, the AOL CBS player for AIM was released. On June 11, 2008, the new AOL CBS Radio player for the web was released.
Listeners could connect to AOL Radio through the web, AOL Client, and AOL Radio for Mac. On July 10, 2008, AOL released a client for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch via the App Store offering mobile streaming of all stations though WiFi, EDGE and 3G cellular connections. AOL Radio is now also available through the AOL Instant Messenger service, and Winamp.
Limits with basic account
- Video ads when the player is opened and when stations are changed several times
- No rewind, fast-forward, or playback
- No ratings system; songs can only be banned or favorited.
- A maximum of six skips per station per hour; changing stations, refreshing the page, banning a song or artist (even if the song has already played), or reloading the player will use a skip
- As of February 2012, the next song cannot be previewed
- Only the lyrics of the first verse (or so) of each song can be viewed
- Occasional commercial breaks
- A limited number of songs on the listening history; if a song or artist is banned, once that song disappears from the history list, it is gone from that station forever
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