If you enjoy music and spend a lot of time at your computer, I have two websites that you are really going to love. I’ve been relaxing to some great music this weekend for free thanks to Pandora and Last.fm. Both of these services allow you to create custom music channels tailored to your music preferences. They offer most of their features for free currently, plus there are no commercials at this time! It’s hard to believe that these services are even legal. (I have no idea how these services are going to make enough money to cover their bills. I guess it’s just a Web2.0 thing.)
Pandora allows you to create custom stations based on the music style of an artist or even a single song. Pandora uses a massive database called the Music Genome that characterizes each song based on music “genes” that include hundreds of musical attributes.
I’ve discovered some great new music using this service based on some of my old favorites. It is really easy to get started using Pandora. There is nothing to download or configure. It all runs in your browser window and it sounds great.
Last.fm is somewhat similar to Pandora, but it uses community generated “tags” to characterize music. After signing up for this service, you are required to download the Last.fm player to listen to custom radio stations. There is also a plugin called the Audioscrobbler to help track every song you listen to and help build your music profile. This sounded a bit intrusive to me, so I haven’t installed the plugin yet.
I found Last.fm a bit more challenging to get started using. There are a lot of feature and options revolving around the community aspect of this site. You can keep a music journal and read artist profiles for example. You need to click the Radio button to get a custom station up and running. I clicked on the “classic rock” tag and the first song that came at me was a rap song. I guess the downfall of having a community driven music labeling system is that differences of opinion can muddy the database. However, after building my own custom station based on my favorite artists, I’ve had a much more pleasant experience. You can check out my Last.fm profile to see what I’ve been listening to recently.
Enjoy the weekend!