Monday, February 12th, 2007...2:35 am
Listening to Music on the Internet
Like most New York City worker bees I have an intimate relationship with my iPod. It helps me zone out when I am on the train or the subway. I will also turn it on at my desk when I need to hunker down and finish a task — usually Jack Johnson, Chili Peppers or old school rap. It helps me focus. I also need to have my iPod at the gym or in the car. A few months back I bought Sony Ear Buds. Now I have headphones that sound good, fit snugly and don’t leave my ears in pan (which the iTunes headphones magically succeeded at accomplishing without fail after twenty minutes). It amazes me that Stevie Jobs and his team haven’t figured out how to create better headphones for the iPod.
Over the summer I had a few interviews that made me think about how I consume Media. I realized that I relied upon my iPod so much I had basically shut the door on my exposure to new music. I no longer listen to the radio, hardly ever buy music and don’t really watch music channels on television.
I’ve found a few great internet radio stations that puts the fun back into discovering new music and hearing different sounds. I still listen to my iPod but sometimes I’m in the mood to hear new stuff and these sites do the trick.
Pandora is a free way to create and customize your own music stations and discover new music. The music is streamed live through a flash player as long as you leave the browser window open. All you have to do is enter an artist or a song and Pandora will create a station that “explores that part of the musical universe”. The logic is based on something called the Music Genome Project. I have no idea what that means. I created a chill station (Jack Johnson, Ben Harper) an old school rap station (Gangstarr, Tribe, De La Soul) and an easy listening station (Dave Matthews, James Blunt, Chili Peppers, etc.). Each time i go to pandora these stations automatically load. I also think there is a way to share stations with other users — although I have never tried to do that.
If you don’t like a song you can skip to the next track but you can’t go back and replay a song. You can also rate a song. Supposedly, your station uses that data to refine the preferences for future songs. Overall, Pandora usually gets the job done.
Last.fm is very similar to Pandora. I think the main difference is that it tries to find other people who enjoy similar music and make recommendations based on those relationships. All the same to me though, and I use both services in a similar way.
The Hype Machine
The Hype Machine is my favorite of the three services although the scope is a bit more limited. The website spits out all music by an artist that was posted to blogs. Blogs often have unreleased versions of songs that are underground demos, were recorded at concerts or are part of mix tapes. The playlists can be hit or miss but often include some amazing stuff by your favorite artists that you didn’t even knew existed. The website provides a compact flash player that pops out of the window and has the oldschool winamp feel. The site also provides a list of recent youtube videos of the artist to explore if you want to view video clips.
Hope you enjoyed the quick rundown and let me know what you think. In terms of buying music I’ve used allofmp3.com for the last four years. It’s a super shady site that is run by the Russians and sells songs for about 10 cents each. I didn’t bother writing about it because the rumor is that it will be shut down anyday now.