Waste.fm is a radio station that broadcasts discarded audio files from around the world. Users take the place of DJs, contributing to the radio station whenever they delete files on their computers using the Waste.fm desktop application. Waste.fm uploads these files to the radio station and broadcasts them both on the project website and desktop application. The radio broadcast plays every deleted audio file once, and then permanently deletes it from the archive.
Numerous social music services use collective data to recommend and serve us songs based on our listening histories and online friends, leaving us at the mercy of what algorithms such cloud-based services use to determine our artistic tastes. Whether these algorithms are diagnostic or prognostic, they have changed how many of us experience music today. What happens to the musicians who are outliers of established genres? Are there more serendipitous ways for us to find music that skirts the periphery of our predicted repertoires?
Waste.fm lays the foundation of a digital commons for data that we typically share only selectively, or keep permanently private. It allows listeners to simultaneously experience typically unshared content in a collective environment. In doing so, it hopefully throws into sharper relief the barriers we typically build between our online and offline lives, the aspects we choose to share on major social channels, and the personas that we curate.