Farewell, LAUNCHcast

In April of 1999, I left Microsoft, 1 year and 1 day from when I joined. I had the bug to create something new with online radio. Todd Beaupre and I were shoved in a conference room in Santa Monica. Six months later, we introduced the world to LAUNCHcast, the customized and social online radio service.

I learned a hell of a lot from my years at LAUNCH and I never worked harder. LAUNCHcast built up quite a following, especially after we were bought by Yahoo!.

From literally day one of the service, the music industry tried to kill LAUNCHcast. I went to court to defend it. Well, they finally won by raising the rates services like LAUNCHcast pay to play music to an amount that makes no financial sense. Every online radio site will now lose money. As a result, Yahoo!, decided to get out of online radio, instead sending users off to CBS Radio. There will no longer be any customized radio.

Nice job, music industry. Instead of collecting money from these services, you’ve shut down any chance of revenue. Nobody buys CDs anymore and Apple is in control of all your music distribution. Way to go.

Farewell, LAUNCHcast. You introduced me to so much music and many friends along the way.

62 Comments

  1. I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I absolutely hate pre-programmed stations. Which of them will play Lemon Jelly, Tones on Tail, Sparks, etc…, and all on the same station? None of them, that’s who. Guess I’ll try Pandora. I’m just very sad, as I have over 12,000 ratings that are going to be thrown out.

  2. I’ve been a Launchcast Plus subscribers since 2002. I listen to it every day, all day at work and am simply distraught. Every new artist that I’ve been introduced to since ’02 I found through this service. The music industry has made plenty of money off me, because I by the music that I like best. How will I find new artists now? I won’t. Great thinking music execs. You’ve screwed us both.

  3. I have been listening to Launchcast at work for years. I would pay ten times as much as I am paying now; it is that valuable to me. I couldn’t believe someone else wasn’t stepping in and taking over, but I guess, Jeff, you have explained that part. Thanks for giving it to us.

    Jane

  4. Is there anything we can do to save this? Does anyone know of another service that is even reasonable similar to Launch?
    I’ve been using launch for over 3 years, have thousands of ratings, and can’t imagine what it’s going to be like without it.

  5. Very sad, I am a proud Launchcast user and make many CD purchases (note to record companies, you make more money on these types of purchases), based simply on discovering bands on launch. Why in the heck they couldn’t just give us the option to pay more or just insert advertisements into our custom stations. The system already works, why not keep it going. I will probably switch to a different provider now as I simply hate listening to pre-programmed stations now, I am simply spoiled now. This really sucks.

    I will just have to kiss this goodbye:

    RATINGS:
    Artists (1,509)
    Albums (3,838)
    Songs (11,068)

    RATINGS LEVEL
    Ratings Master
    (16,415 total ratings)

    When you include what I didn’t rate, that is a whopping amount of music that influenced me to buy more (I have over 3100 CDs and don’t buy lossy MP3s).

  6. Jeff, thanks for the genius behind this service. I just passed 16,000 ratings while listening at work over the years. I am beside myself as to what to listen to otherwise. Maybe Pandora can expand it’s rating system to mimic Launchcast. I pay even though I get it free thru AT&T, just to preserve my ratings (long, stupid story). Nothing else compares. So much for personal choice in the music industry.

  7. I am so disappointed about launchcast. I’ve had a station with that site since before they joined with Yahoo. The only thing I really liked about it was that I could create my won music station. Ever since I was in highschool I wished I could make my own radio station because I never like all the songs in one station and like to mix a lot of genres together. Launchcast was the ONLY place you could truly make your own station. I really really can’t understand what the problem is if the prescription is paid for. Anyway, Until someone else comes up with a site where I can make my own station, I guess I’ll have listening to my ipod for quite some time. Which sucks because launchcast was one of the few places where I was exposed to new music.

  8. I can’t believe that Yahoo is getting rid of the launchcast plus service. Moving to CBS is going to make it so Yahoo offers the same stations as AOL does through CBS.

    Don’t you think that if I wanted generic stations that I’d already be on AOL or some other uncustomizable internet radio?

    I hope pandora will suffice, because that seems to be the only one left.

  9. Jeff, been with you guys since launch started. I have 40,000+ song rated and am scrambling to figure a way to get that ratings list. Looks like you can only do it 20 songs at a time. Huge bummer! I only joined yahoo to keep this service. Can’t wait for the scum at the top of the music business to die a painfully slow death as artists take control of their own distribution and they have to beg Apple for everything. What idiots!

  10. The news of the closing of LaunchCast Plus hit me like the death announcement of an acquaintance (or honeslty even worse). This was one of the BEST services on the web, allowing people to really expand their music taste, which eventually trickled down to sales of CDs that people would have never bought had they not been exposed to them. I wouldn’t have minded paying 2x or 3x for this service. I am devastated!!

  11. Hats off to you, Jeff. This is exactly the type of service that the music industry could use to save itself, and bring exposure to countless otherwise-ignored artists. A music distribution stroke of genius – obviously you have lots of fans. I also have bought lots of music that I first heard on launch. Their shortsightedness boggles the mind. Pop has finally eaten itself.

    As of today, here’s where I am:

    RATINGS:
    Artists (4,213)
    Albums (6,636)
    Songs (12,307)

    RATINGS LEVEL
    Ratings Master
    (23,156 total ratings)

  12. Pingback: Jeff Boulter’s Blog » How to Download your LAUNCHcast Ratings

  13. This is just dispicable. Greedy and short sighted execs always try to ruin the best services on the web, crushing democratic fairness for authoritarian corporate profit motives.

    I loved Launchcast, I’ve tried everything else and nothing touches the rating and suggestion system…I discovered sooo much new music.

  14. Hurray! Launchcast Canada has given reason to listen again!!! Although I can’t seem to figure how to get Launchcast Plus, Launchcast Plain is better than Launchcast Nothing.

  15. My favorite band is Rush, they are from Canada so, for the time being, so is my Internet radio stream!

    GENRES: Rock, Art/Progressive Rock, Mainstream Rock

    RATINGS:
    Artists (5,996)
    Albums (9,157)
    Songs (17,927)

    RATINGS LEVEL
    Ratings Master
    (33,080 total ratings)

    I was playing for LaunchCast plus but will settle for the lower audio quality to keep the music I like rolling though my head.

    I can’t afford Rhapsody, hate CBS’ version of LaunchCast and can’t find enough variety in the 500K songs on Pandora.

    I know this won’t last forever but I will treasure it while it lasts.

  16. Just for the record, while I was a Launchcast plus paying subscriber, I bought song directly from the integrated Buy button while it worked and then direct from Amazon after Yahoo killed off the direct purchase option. All this will paying the very affordable $36 annual fee for Launchcast Plus. I am very upset at having lost my station! Like Chechare says on comment 17 above, it is like the death of a friend.

  17. Yahoo! is fooling around with the ratings now. It looks like they are well on their way to shutting down LaunchCast completely except for the video section. That is the only thing that seems to be maintained at all.

  18. As member for several years I can only agree with other comentators and add that I personally regard it as a miracle that such an elegant and civilised system, was allowed to exist, relatively unmolested, for so long.

  19. Well, its April 30 and I am still listening to my Launchast station.
    All I did was sign on to the Australia yahoo site and create an account there (cruttley@ymail.com).
    Then I simply went to the Member Station area at the bottom and did a search for my original yahoo radio station (cornmanz)….then I asked it to play that station….AND IT WORKS. I can hear my beloved original Launchast station.
    The world has not ended…….yet.

  20. There’s now a message on the Australian site that it’s is going to be “relaunched” in July. It sounds like luanchcast is less than a month from being officially dead.

  21. I was just looking for some historic information on Launch, because I was a pre-yahoo user, and I was recently reading an article about how Pandora was the first of its kind, simply not true. Launch not only beat Pandora to the market, but IMHO provided a better product. I always got better lay lists from launch than I get from pandora.

    Just posting to say that I still miss the Launchcast.

  22. Scott R.,
    Yes, LCast was first. The big difference is that Pandora suggests songs based on similar musical qualities while LCast suggested songs based on what other’s who liked you song also liked. Spotify is now similar, except that it is mostly “friend” based. LCast worked better for me because I have different musical tastes than my group of “friends,” which can include my Aunt Betsy. Also, LCast let you selectively pick “influencers,” which is better than just your “friends.”

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