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19 March 2009
Your own radio station: Pandora.com
By now, anyone who cares to probably listens to some sort of internet radio, either via iTunes or Last.fm or one of the myriad methods available. One of the better ways I've found is via Pandora Internet Radio. While I haven't fully explored the differences between Pandora and Last.fm, I can say that Pandora is simple to use, very customizable and mobile via your Blackberry, iPhone or Windows Mobile device.
Pandora is based around something called the Music Genome Project, which basically is a group of people analyzing every piece of music they can get their hands on, looking for traits (acoustic, vocal, lyrical, tempo--there are 400 in all). Pandora uses these commonalities to find related songs and artists. So you can go to Pandora, search for an artist or song that you like and create a station based around the song or artist. Pandora names the station for you, but it is simple to rename. You'll also find yourself adding variety by including artists related to your original pick. Pandora will add what it believes are artists and songs you like as your station plays, and you can give the thumbs up or down to refine its choices for your station.
You'll find yourself wanting to tweak, but there is are problems with overdoing it--too few options and your station sounds flat, with the same sound; too many and it becomes wildly eclectic. If you choose an artist that is difficult to classify you'll also get big swings in styles and tempii. I chose a song by the band Beirut as the basis for one of my stations (you can create as many as you want), the first song that came up was by Metallica, the second by an authentic Bavarian brass band. Vive la difference, I guess.