N$X: Seeking Direction

I had a nice long chat with Rayon Payne earlier this week. He’s been up to some interesting stuff.
Payne’s latest project is Myspace Radio. The plan involves establishing a database of music from which users will be able to access and assemble playlists for free. Said playlists can then be streamed from anywhere. Payne describes it as akin to Shoutcast, except you’re in complete control of the programming.
Users will be able to upload and request new audio files and share their playlists with others, but they will not be able to download files. The system will log everything that’s played, with the appropriate streaming royalty payments to follow. The entire service will be free; Payne hopes to generate revenue via advertising.
In truth, this project sounds a lot like last.fm, but we’ll see: the actual Myspace Radio technical infrastructure is still under development, bid out to contract-programmers in India. The investment costs are in the mid-five figures so far.
Payne believes he’s got the copyright angle covered by disallowing direct copying and paying royalties on every song played through Myspace Radio. He’s also not very worried about trademark issues involving his chosen domain name: he bought myspaceradio.com off a guy in Canada, something News Corporation could have done long ago if it wanted.
In a way, Payne would almost welcome a high-profile tussle, because he sounded kind of frustrated. His television gig fell through, and entreaties to terrestrial and satellite broadcasters for entry into the legitimate side of the radio business have come up dry. Continued lopsided media portrayal as a serial miscreant certainly isn’t making things any easier.
He wonders if his checkered past has left indelible marks that may force him to seek a new path in life. The Myspace Radio project is a part of that exploration, though he’s hungry to be back in business more generally. He’s even considered law school, or writing a book about his pirate past, but the patience required to undertake those projects eludes him at the moment.
Payne would also really like to talk to kids, for whom he has two pieces of advice: “Stop watching these music videos and getting ideas,” and take advantage of getting an education. “Life is about passing knowledge on,” Payne said, and he feels a real responsibility to leave something positive behind when all is said and done.