OK, I love my iPod. I love my iTunes, which will stream to my Airport Express/stereo, all controlled by iSee iTunes on my Tivo. I love my 400+ CDs, all lovingly displayed in my living room, ready to be played. (Why would I do that considering almost everything is ripped to iTunes and is a remote click away now I don’t know, but whateva!)
However, in less than 12 hours, Pandora has rocked my world. Run, don’t walk, to this service. (I have invites if anyone wants to try it!)
The idea is straightforward, although not simple in the slightest. A bunch of music geeks got together and classified, on a song-by-song basis, their huge libraries of music. (Least that’s the story…) For example, here’s the description of Soul Coughing’s “True Dreams of Wichita” as provided by the service:
“featuring electronica influences, mild rhythmic syncopation, major key tonality, groove-based composition and mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation”
What do they do with all this data? You login to the service and you can create 100 streaming “radio stations”, each seeded with either an artist or song title. From the seed, the service automagically creates a stream that closely matches your chosen seed artist/song. You can emphasize songs you particularly like in your stream, or you can eliminate songs from ever being played again. Everything is streamed via Flash applet (cross-platform yumminess) at 128kbps to your web browser, out your soundcard and into your ears. Album cover art is displayed for the vast majority of songs, and each song/artist is merely a click away with the built-in Amazon and/or iTunes store integration. You can also share your “channels” with others, so once you find your perfect stream you can share it with others.
I’ve already created a Carbon Leaf channel, a Beulah channel, a Soul Coughing channel, a Ben Folds Five channel and a Barenaked Ladies channel. Each one of the channels does accurately match the seed so far…and by nudging the “Soul Coughing” channel a bit I’ve slanted it a bit closer to Ruby Vroom Soul Coughing instead of their later stuff. Who knew how great “Derelict Organ” by Lenola went with Soul Coughing, let along some Talking Heads thrown in next? I’d never even heard of Lenola before today…now I’ve got them on my list of CDs to pick up!
I’ve used some of the other “customizable” streaming services before. I’ve always been disappointed with their selection (not nearly deep enough) and their lackluster DJ algorithms, but so far Pandora seems to have all of them beat. It will be interesting to see if I’m this excited about it a week from now…if so, the $36/year they plan to charge (after the beta period is over) will seem like a small price to pay for the service.