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Online radio.

October 7, 2010

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I know everyone’s a big fan of Pandora and I am, too. The only problem with Pandora is that it’s only good for American Music. That’s fine and all when I find a song I like, but then the recommendations are all over the place. Half the time, the songs are either from people I’ve never heard of or they’re all old songs. Sure, the old songs aren’t bad, but I want rec’s for new stuff.

I used to use Last.fm years ago, I think around time I changed the layout on my very, very first blog. That’s a long time ago. Back then, the reason to you use Last.fm was because there was a widget you could install on your blog and it’d display the last song you listened to on your computer. That was cool and all but I had no idea about the online radio part of it. After a few months, I stopped using it altogether. I just started using it again a few weeks ago.

Scrobbling…
So, there’s this process they call scrobbling where it identifies the songs you’ve played, be it on your computer through iTunes, Winamp, or Windows Media Player, or iPod/iPhone. Then, it too recommends songs to you to listen. Pretty neat. Here’s the differences it has with Pandora that play a huge part for me:

Other Languages
1. It’s multilingual! Holy crap is that a big deal. All the Korean music I listen to would show up as squat in Pandora. Every once in a while, something would get recognized but the station would instead be American songs entirely. Now, they get identified correctly through Last.fm. It works along with the Japanese and Chinese songs I have, it’s like, finally my music collection is recognized.

How it recommends is different
2. In Pandora, it uses the DNA of the song (beats, harmonies, vocal patterns, etc…) to define and recommend similar sounding songs. Cool in essence, but I end up with literally a whole station of the same sounding stuff. Last.fm makes the recommendations based on the tastes of people who have listened to similar songs as you. So, when you listen to a song, it’ll find other people who listened to that song and find stuff those people liked. It’s more user/community driven. The caveat is that you need to scrobble songs to last.fm first before it can really start making good recommendations. I actually set my computer to scrobble my iTunes collection overnight for a few days to get a jump start, but over time, you’ll get the scrobble count up.

There’s a community for that
3. Artist Info, album art, message boards, music videos, photos. It’s got tons of stuff and more can be posted up by users. That’s pretty cool.

Next please
4. Skipping songs. Sometimes, that song just recommended to you isn’t so great. Let’s skip it. In Pandora, you’re limited to six skips per hour. In Last.fm, no limit. "But Brian, skipping a lot means the system fails at recommending!" You might say that, well, what if it works in recommending songs I like, but I’ve heard them all before and I want to try new stuff? I don’t want to have to wait an hour just to discover a possible new song. I want it now.

But…
Of course, I’m not just going to sit here and bash Pandora straight up. Pandora’s web interface is very nice and simple. And it’s fast, both through the web and it’s apps. Using last.fm on my phone there is a noticeable lag (about 2-3 seconds) between songs as it buffers up. Pandora has about half the lag.

Last.fm isn’t a perfect online radio/recommendation service for everybody. But to me, it fits well and I enjoy using it.

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2 comments

  1. =]

    Same here.


  2. You can edit audio files with audacity.



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