Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pandora and Internet Radio...

For all of you out there stuck in your world of iTunes and iPods, let this be a friendly reminder that you're missing out. There is a world of music out there that you're probably not exposing yourself to - and of course, it's free and legal to listen to it over any internet connection.

On a recommendation, I recently created my own Pandora internet radio station. A group called the Music Genome Project has a database of nearly all the music in the history of the world, and when you tell it what you like, it will not only play that music, but also more obscure material of similar music geneology. I've been testing it for a few days and am already hooked.

Other internet radio stations abound. Popular streaming internet radio directories include Live365 and ShoutCast, in addition to several open-source alternatives such as IceCast. Also, many bands' offical websites offer their own stations, as well as music festivals, such as Bonnaroo Radio. Penguin has even started selling a stand-alone device so that you can listen to internet radio stations without even having a computer. This is not even to mention the millions of podcasts that you can download for later listening.

But there are, however, several downsides. First of all, the overwhelming majority of internet radio stations are amateurish at best - meaning that since any schmoe off the street can create their own station, there is, naturally, an awful lot of junk out there, and sifting through it to find stations you like can be a daunting and time-consuming challenge.

Second, as with traditional radio, I am constantly frustrated with not having control over what songs I get to listen to. For instance, when I'm listening to a station and they play a song I don't like, I'm forced to sit through it anyway - and I HATE that! At least Pandora allows me to skip songs that aren't my speed, but even they limit that feature.

It is in this sense that, in a world where users have increasingly more control over what content they consume, even internet radio seems stuck twenty years in the past.


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