I’m always looking for new music to listen to. Occasionally, I’ll stumble across a new artist’s site or a friend will mention a new artist, but if the artist does not have any music on their Web site or are fairly obscure, then I still won’t be able to actually hear the music. Thanks to my friend David, I signed up for Yahoo’s Music service, which provides over a million songs for $4.99/month, which is a pretty good deal and provides a lot of music. However, it’s not all that easy to discover new music using the Yahoo Music Engine. Enter Pandora and Live365.
Pandora is an outgrowth of the Music Genome Project, which has taken on the massive task of reviewing and categorizing music and comparing musical qualities of each artist to help end-users discover music that is similar to artists they like. Pandora offers a free service and a subscription service; the free service includes ads while the subscription service doesn’t. Basically, you tell Pandora the artists/musical styles that you like, and the Pandora service will stream music that is similar to your tastes. I’ve tried Pandora and have had fairly good results. Pandora does a good job of playing music similar stylistically to what you specify, and you can create stations that match your personal tastes. I found that Pandora will play a lot of music that I’d never heard of before that is similar to artists I like, which is what I was looking for. Also, if a song plays that you don’t like, it’s easy to tell the service not to play that song again using the “Rules of Thumbs” system. If you don’t like a song, you simply click the Thumbs Down button to tell the service you don’t like the song, which will stop the song and let you skip to another song.
Live365 was is an Internet radio service that was recently recommended to me by a coworker, and I have to say that after a few days of using the service I’m fairly impressed. Live365 provides a huge range of radio stations to choose from. For example, I found a high-quality station called Guitar Central that I really like. This station plays only instrumental guitar music all day long. I’ve already discovered several artists that I’ve never heard of before and that I plan on looking into further. However, unlike Pandora, which lets you skip songs, if a song happens to pop up that you don’t like, you are not able to skip to another song using Live365. This is only a minor downside, though, because the vast majority of music that I’ve heard on Live365 has been good. One advantage of paying for a Live365 VIP subscription is the radio client that they provide free with the subscription.
Both Pandora and Live365 offer free and paid services. The paid subscriptions range from $3-5/month, which is basically the cost of one Grande Cafe Mocha from Starbucks. Either service seems to be well worth the money if you don’t want to hear the ads, but I’d recommend Live365 just slightly more than Pandora based on the number of stations offered.