Wednesday, 3 February 2010

What's that song on the radio?

A song is playing on BBC Radio that you like, but you didn't catch the name of the song or artist? And you really wanted to buy that song…

No problem. Ian Forrester has on the BBC Backstage Blog highlighted a great new service by Tim Coysh. This useful service is free but ad-funded.

The BBC What's On Now project displays the name of the song that's currently playing (and the current and next DJ) on BBC Radio 1, Radio 2, 1Xtra or 6 Music.

Not only that but he's tried to pull in the artist bio, album art and lyrics for the current song too, where possible. As well as displaying a BBC webcam.

Note that the page doesn't refresh itself if you leave it open, you'll have to reload it manually to get the most current info.

The "Database list" link lets you see the songs previously played on the supported stations, by date and time, and you can also search the database by artist, title, DJ or date. Obviously helpful if you're not at a computer at the time you heard a song you liked - make sure you note down the radio station and the time so you can look it up later!

(I wonder if an iPhone app or Google app is on the cards?)


Display. Unfortunately in Internet Explorer 8 some pages are sometimes slow to load or don't load at all and display can be a bit weird, but hopefully that will be fixed (especially given that BBC Backstage are supporting this project!)

Copyright. Being the nervous sort, I'm also a bit concerned about the display of lyrics and album art. If it were me I'd dispense with those bits (and maybe even the bios), at least until I knew that the rights holders had given their blessing and, more importantly, licence to display them.

The album art is pulled in from which I assume must have had permission from the copyright owners to both use it and (hopefully) make it available to developers via their free API. Similarly with the artist bios. But the lyrics are from lyricfly which seems not to have any kind of copyright licence.

It would be a big shame if such an innovative service had to be ended because of issues like this. I think record labels and music publishers ought to embrace BBC What's On, it's a great way to engage consumers and boost sales of the songs being played, but who knows…

1 comment:

Tim Coysh said...


Just thought I'd give you and your readers a heads-up. has now been upgraded to a new, cleaner, easier to use version..

I acted on your comments, and hope you enjoy!