Internet Radio

Thursday, January 31, 2008| by Will Chen

If you're like me, you hate the radio. It wasn't always this way; I used to lay on the carpet starring at the ceiling anticipating the next magical melody which would grab me by the collar and lift me into the stars. I remember a time when radio took chances and tried to break new artists and often played local and regional artists on the air. The most atrocious is the local "alternative" station which has been proclaiming their "new" status for over 15 years. When many of the artists they play are the same ones played on the local top 40 stations, what are they claiming to be the alternative of? I guess it was inevitable, or perhaps I was just more naive in my youth. Well, thank God for the internet as there is an abundance of customizable legally free music online. Here are a few of my favorite sites.

Pandora

Pandora is an extremely unique experience which builds custom stations based on a listener input song or artist. Songs are categorized by their "genetic" build (a collection of up to 500 parameters defined by a group of musicians). Additionally, as the songs play the listener can rank the songs to help Pandora refine playlists. . Genre based stations are available as well. Visitors can stream music for a limited time frame, and freely registered members can stream to their heart's content. The coolest thing about Pandora is the ability to skip songs. Don't like the current song playing? Simply skip to the next one. However due their royalty agreements, there is a limit on the amount you can skip within an hour on a single station. Pandora also offers a paid subscription service which allows downloading and streaming onto portable devices. Audio quality is excellent and I'm consistently amazed at Pandora's ability to choose music I find appealing. I've been turned on to quite a few new artists while listening to Pandora and I'll bet Pandora will do the same for you.

Live365

I liken Live365 to a free version of satellite radio. Streamed channels are categorized into 24 genres which are further categorized into subgenres and include something for any taste from traditional Mediterranean Folk to Japanese Pop to Acid Jazz to Death Metal and all things in-between. There are streamed versions of terrestrial radio stations as well as artist specific channels. Live365 is aware that the shear volume of choice is very overwhelming and offers daily recommendations as well as editor's picks to help you get your feet wet. Free downloads are available as well as a VIP paid subscription service which allows ad free streaming and a mobile service. Quality varies from horrible (as in no signal at all) to excellent, most likely due to the amount of user created content. If you ever needed to catch up on your Filipino classic hits from the 70's, 80's, and 90's, you can find it here.

Yahoo Music

Yahoo music offers videos, genre based streams, downloads, artist news, etc. This site is much more of an entertainment portal and as such is focused on commercially successful established artists. Never the less, stream quality is very good and the variety allows some fun listening.

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