Entertainment Music

Internet radio provides free music for all, custom stations

Daniel Robb ’10
THE ROUNDUP

The Internet has been changing the music industry quickly and surely.

Probably the most noticeable aspect of this is the purchasing and downloading of music. But this isn’t the only element that is changing.

Internet radio has started to gain more and more users in the recent years.

I recently looked at two of the most popular: Pandora and Slacker. The mission of these sites: to deliver to you music that you will like, based on whatever you already enjoy.

Pandora

The first thing you notice when you arrive at Pandora.com is the slick layout.

Everything you need is located on one page; expertly placed so that you don’t even need to scroll down.

The functionality is simple and self-explanatory.  The “Create a New Station” button is clearly placed, and allows you to make a new “station” based off of an artist or song.

As it creates a station, it tells you what criteria the system is basing the content off of. Pandora uses a unique procedure it calls the Music Genome Project. The project apparently involved eight years of musicologists classifying songs based off of 400 different criteria.

The result is a vast database of music and stations that provide quality music with the same heart, soul and style of the base artist or song.  On a grading system, I would give the quality of suggestions and music played a solid “A.”

You can pause and skip songs, though because of licensing issues, you are only allowed six skips per hour per station and 12 per day.

There is a “like” and “dislike” function that you can use to tell Pandora what to play more of, and what to play less of. There is an “add variety” function which allows you to add more songs or artists to a station.

While a song is playing, you have the ability to purchase it through iTunes or Amazon, and to share it with your friends through Twitter, Facebook, e-mail or through Pandora itself.

Along with all of this, you have an additional menu below the music player which allows you to view your own profile information, artist/album/song information, browse by genre or take a look at their video series concerning music.

There is one advertisement on the side of the page, and extremely infrequent ones will play while listening to a station.  Most of them will appear when you switch from station to station, though they are all extremely short and therefore not much hassle.

You have the ability to access Pandora outside of your computer as well through Android, Blackberry, iPhone/iPod touch, Palm Pre or Windows Mobile, giving you access nearly everywhere if you own one of these.

Slacker Personal Radio

Slacker.com certainly has a nice feel to it.  The design of the site is pretty good, and is navigable with relative ease.

The player is tab based, with tabs on the side that you can use to see what is playing, a list of pre-made stations, the station creation interface and your mobile devices.

Once you’re listening, it has a noticeably smaller music database than its competitors. As a result, you may hear the same artist multiple times within a short period. Also, it plays more popular artists more often, which depending on your predilection could be preferable to obscurity.

In addition to the limited range, the quality of music can be fairly inconsistent, prompting me to give its music and suggestion quality a “B.”

Other than that, it has the standard pause/skip feature, and the ability to “like” a song or even ban an artist from a station.  The same restrictions on the “skip” feature apply here.

The ability to share a station is there, though you cannot share what you are listening to directly through Twitter or Facebook.

A cool feature it also possesses is a list of artists who are on the station, as well as the ability to see what is playing next.

It can be played on the Blackberry, iPhone and Android.

There are several ads on the page, which can be distracting in the event that you are on the page, and there are still the infrequent ads while playing.

Neither of which are obstructive enough to warrant leaving the site, though.