Back in 1998, the Red Bull Music Academy sought to give new musicians a chance at making it big by sharing their goods and providing workshops around the world. Through a submission process, 60 lucky individuals are chosen to perform at the RBMA music festival, which is held at a different location every year. From those roots, RBMA has gone into publishing and launched an Internet radio station which is syndicated to terrestrial radio stations in more than 30 countries. Now, this musical feast—covering more than 300 genres and offering everything from DJ interviews to playlists and a live stream—comes to you in the form of an app for your iOS device.
Red Bull’s RBMA Radio gives you access to all of the interviews, features, live recordings and mixes Red Bull Music Academy Radio has to offer, as well as the ever-changing live stream. Each option features a panel of information about the artist, their playlist, and related performances. Along with a photo of the artist, the app also provides options to create a favorites list and share any media with your friends via e-mail.
While this free app is jam-packed with information, that very feature might be its weakness. The menus can be confusing at times and looking at the “Now playing” feature might show you what you’re currently listening to or what’s playing on the live stream you aren’t tuned into at the moment. The quality of the audio streams and choices are fantastic, with options to even search for a particular artist, but when I’m swimming in a sea of buttons and all I want to know is who I’m hearing, it can be frustrating. It wouldn’t hurt for RBMA Radio to implement sharing via social media networks, either.
When it comes to experiencing all that is RBMA without being there, this iPhone and iPod touch app has a lot to offer. Unfortunately, everything it has to offer is crammed in such a small space, it can be hard to navigate your experience. Furthermore, RBMA Radio has yet to get an update to add support for iOS 4’s multitasking features, so you can’t run it in the background. If the stream was available through Safari, it might be easier to use than this app.
[Rob de la Cretaz is a full-time polymath and a proud resident of Pittsburgh.]