Scour Re-invents Itself With Radio Stations

One of the legends in Internet music has been getting a facelift as of late. Online music exchange site, which is owned by CenterSpan Communications (Nasdaq: CSCC) is in the midst of a multi-million dollar makeover to help the one-time Napster rival compete with other peer-to-peer music exchange programs.

While engineers are hammering out the details of the Beta Version of its Scour Exchange, The Hillsboro, Ore.-based company Tuesday launched a free radio station with the help of San Francisco-based RadioCentral.

Make that three radio stations: Scour Hip Hop, Scour Electronic and Scour Rock.

“As digital distribution of music continues to expand, Internet radio is a natural extension for the Scour brand,” says CenterSpan president Steve Frison. “With their extensive radio industry experience, RadioCentral was the clear choice to develop Scour Radio and provide the best in radio programming and content for our target demographic audience. With this additional feature, we continue to build Scour as the one-stop shop for online entertainment.”

The Internet radio ‘channels’ are for consumers to obtain information about artists and listen to new music from the best music radio programming streamed in CD quality digital audio.

The launch of Scour’s radio stations marks the third time that RadioCentral has helped a large entity get a Java-based, FM radio style platform. Last week, RadioCentral helped launch three stations. RadioCentral also helped Earthlink do the same in late May.

“The partnership between RadioCentral and Scour is part of a growing trend among music service providers to offer a range of services, from online radio to file downloads,” says IDC analyst Susan Kevorkian.

The Comeback Road

Scour was founded in 1997 by five UCLA computer science students and was the beneficiary of such high-profile investors as former Disney executive Michael Ovitz. The company ran into trouble when the recording and motion picture industries laid into it with copyright suits.

After Scour declared bankruptcy last October, the Scour Exchange and the spidering engine that brought content to the Web site was shut down in November, 2000.

In December of 2000 CenterSpan purchased the assets of Scour with a goal of relaunching Scour as a legal source for music, video and images.

The turnaround may be on the horizon for Scour, says Kevorkian, because of its attempts to branch out its services.

“Currently, competition in the online music space is accelerating and the quest for a profitable business model is ongoing, making this strategy critical for attracting and retaining a broad audience of fans with different usage patterns and musical tastes,” says Kevorkian. “Online radio is an especially appealing addition to a music service provider because it offers a diverse selection of music to sample, and in a readily accessible format.”

With the release of the Scour Exchange Beta version and Scour Radio, CenterSpan says it will start its subscription service later this year, charging its users somewhere between $4.99 – $24.99 a month for the service.

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