Pure close streaming music service

By James Cridland for
Posted 18 August 2015, 6.00am edt


Pure, the DAB Digital Radio and connected speaker manufacturer, has announced the closure of its Pure Connect music service.

Since August 2010, Pure have offered a subscription streaming music service on their connected radio sets, which allowed listeners to enjoy millions of tracks of music. The service, branded FlowSongs, initially allowed purchase of tracks (at 79p), and a service letting you use inbuilt Shazam track identification, whether you were listening to FM, DAB or internet radio. It used 7digital's infrastructure.

In December 2011, a rebranded Pure Music added unlimited music streaming for £4.99 - on their radio hardware, mobile apps and on the web. Theoretically, you could listen to songs on the radio, discover through Shazam what the artist and album was, and then go and listen to the full album.

The service, now part of a brand called Pure Connect, will close on October 16th. Pure have announced that existing customers will get the service for free until closure, and are recommending that tracks purchased through Pure are downloaded before the service shuts. (Tracks aren't protected by DRM).

Pure Connect will still be the front end to Pure's internet radio listings, "in addition to 'listen again' programmes and around 270,000 podcast episodes". The Pure Connect app continues to act as a controller for the company's Jongo multiroom speakers. Pure say this change "reflects changing times within the music and radio streaming industry".

Pure's newer devices include a Bluetooth connection, allowing users to stream their own music collection, and competing services like Spotify, Google Play Music and Apple Music to their Pure devices.

The good news is that the Shazam-powered track identification service will, according to my enquiries, continue after the music service's closure on October 16th. This identifies almost any track playing on the radio, and puts them in a part of the Pure Connect service called 'My tracks'.

"Pure will also be announcing a number of partnerships with leading music streaming services in the coming months to reflect a new universal approach to music streaming," the company says.

I think this service failed because of a number of factors: first, that the user experience on a radio was fiddly and difficult to use with a tuning knob and a few buttons; second, that a radio is typically something you turn on, listen to, and turn off (and don't therefore expect to interact with); and third, that publicity of the service was minimal with confusing branding, and thus failed to compete with Spotify, Google and Apple.

However, as architects of a brave experiment, Pure deserve applause. It was a great idea to see whether they could use radio's role in music discovery to sell (and stream) music. It's a shame, but not wholly unexpected, that it didn't work.

As a disclosure: I was working at Pure while FlowSongs was initially launched, and was part of the team that successfully relaunched The Lounge.

James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.


5 years, 8 months ago

Your write about the fact that using that feature was fiddly and difficult to use. I have had a Pure Flow Radio for about 3 years, I use it for as you say listening to and turning off. I like to listen to all those radio stations that used to be on AM and are no longer on that band and of course loads of other stations as well, but I never used that feature that is ending in October.

5 years, 8 months ago

I must admit, "on demand" is rarely used and the additional subscription service is never used in our house. The internet radio is mainly used as a radio stations receiver in my household.

5 years, 8 months ago

I suspect that these devices are mostly used by consumers to replicate the radio experience - i.e. "turn on, make noise, turn off". I suspect, too, that they're normally used like my kitchen radio - which is (as I type this) about five steps away, on the windowsill over the washing machine. It's enough of a bother switching stations, let alone fiddling with trying to find last week's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.

Indeed, 86% of radio sets in the kitchen never change station.

I believe - and I'll be doing a series of talks over the next few months saying so - that radio on a mobile phone or tablet is consumed in a significantly different way than that on a physical device like that pictured at the top of this thread.

5 years, 8 months ago

I would have thought, a typical internet digital radio set with five preset buttons for each waveband would at least have five preset internet radio channels saved, at minimum. That is, with the addition of a personal 'Favourites' list saved on the unit's firmware!
If not, why bother purchasing an internet digital radio, if the listener is not going to be a tad promiscuous, but staying loyal to one station without surfing?

5 years, 8 months ago

Um... because the station you really like listening to isn't on FM or DAB where you live?

I've got about seven presets on my Pure Evoke Flow, but it hasn't left the (Australian) radio station it's been tuned-to for the past few months.

5 years, 8 months ago

I gravitate between BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Foyle and BBC Five Live on weekday mornings and listen to 1. Alba Scotland 69AM or Absolute 60s in the evenings. I dip into the RTE radio channels at weekends & occasionally listen to Radio Poland, Celtic Music Radio and Radio North Sea International (tribute), amongst other services over weekends.
If the majority of radio listeners are listening to around three channels maximum over a lifetime, all I can say is ''there is nothing queerer than folk.'' Except me, of course!

5 years, 8 months ago

Not sure we're normal, Willie.

The radio in the bathroom oscillates between LBC, Fun Kids, and 6music.

The one in the kitchen is normally on Radio 2, or LBC.

The car is on Radio 2 or LBC.

The bedroom appears to be Radio 4.

The front room is tuned to aforementioned Australian station.

5 years, 8 months ago

I am an ex-short wave lover from away back then and admit, I am not a typical mainstream radio listener. I remember the famine of the BBC sound broadcasting monopoly on domestic services of the 60s and 70s, only alleviated by the pop pirates. The domestic services choice then and now have progressed from a famine to a feast.
My shortwave introduction was the old Radio Northsea International broadcasts at 6210 kHz on the 42 meter band. The signals day and night were ''stoating'', even in southwest Scotland..

5 years, 8 months ago

Must say Willie reading all that brings back memories to me as well. I used to listen to Shortwave in the late 50's and Medium Wave in the 60's and 70's. VOA from America was one of my favourites and Radio Northsea International as well, anyway getting back to today I have a Pure Flow Internet Radio in my kitchen and a DAB only one in the bedroom with 6 presets, I don't think anyone would buy a DAB or Internet Radio just to listen to 1 station.Many of the stations I listen to on my Internet Radio are former German or Dutch broadcasts that used to be on AM but are no longer broadcasting on that wavelength like WDR4 and SWR4 etc.

5 years, 8 months ago

Alan, first of all, I must correct my error, RNI on 6210 kHz is actually on the 48 meter band. Sorry about that!

I used to remember Jazz Hour on the Voice Of America. VOA like BBC World Service did include a small portion of radio drama on its schedule. I remember one radio play featuring Lucille Ball from many moons ago.
The programmes on the external broadcasts from the two Germany(s) were of a high calibre back in the cold war era! I remember the commanding introduction to the English service in the east, "This is Radio Berlin International, the Voice of the German Democratic Republic."

Thankfully, the interval tuning signals of many external broadcasters have survived into the digital era. The interval tuning signals, like television test cards are not really required in the digital era!

Happy Listening...

5 years, 8 months ago

Yes Willie I remember Jazz Hour on VOA in Special English, the presenter talked slowly for non English speakers to understand what he was saying. Deutschlandfunk on 236 metres was the external service of West Germany, I wrote to them saying how I enjoyed listening, but only during the dark winter months. As far as the DDR east German radio was concerned I liked the music they played on Long Wave 177 khz, by the way that frequency closed last year with the Long Wave transmitter of DLF on 31st December as well This year on the 31 December all the Medium Wave transmitters of DLF are closing down. Also coming off the Medium is the old 208 metre transmitter of Radio Luxembourg (1440khz) Soon the UK will be the only country in Europe still broadcasting on AM Medium and Long Wave, the Dutch station Radio 5 Nostalgia is closing down its 747 am transmitter on 1 September as are a couple of other Dutch AM stations.

5 years, 8 months ago

I sincerely believe Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) could have been the saviour for AM services in Europe with some software refinement to overcome severe co-channel interference!
Digital AM with DRM did not develop fast enough to keep pace with an ever changing world.

Unlike the USA, Europe is turning its back on a frequency spectrum that could be used in the digital world beyond the 2020s!

5 years, 7 months ago

The problem with DRM was that it did a "Worldspace" as in the lack of affordable receivers in the shops. Plus nobody knew about it.
It's all very well having this super digital technology, but if there are no receivers available then it's a White Elephant.

5 years, 6 months ago

I'm really disappointed that they've closed the streaming service. It might not be a natural fit for radios, but it was one of the key features for their Jongo range, and it tempted me to buy one. Now I won't be able to stream to it, less than two years after I bought the speaker. I don't know whether it's technically possible, but I hoped they would have offered an alternative, for example Spotify or Google Cast. I can still pair it using bluetooth, but it's not as reliable as the wifi was.

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