Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Finding a Replacement for Pandora

Pandora rules! Tim Westergren's Music Genome Project was developed into the service that looks at the music you like and recommends other tracks based on their genes. It works wonderfully. It has opened my eyes (and ears) to musicians and groups I had never heard of (I love ending sentences with prepositions).

It was run as a legal business paying millions each year in royalties to the RIAA. But dealing with the RIAA is like dealing with drug pushers. They always seem to want more for less. The recent Copyright Royalty Board ruling has dictated that Internet radio stations must pay significantly more than traditional radio stations for the same access to music, as the RIAA had requested.

Make it easier to be legal and don't be too greedy and people will use that option. Make it too expensive, too hard or just be a bully and people are going to look for other options. And when they do, the RIAA (and the musicians they supposedly represent) get nothing.

It's like these guys have never even heard of Limewire or remember the dozen or so other questionable services that they've spent musicians' money taking down.

But there's still another legal service out there that offers similar functionality to Pandora. That service is Last.fm. Last.fm is based in England so doesn't have to play by all the same rules that are putting Pandora out of business.

I downloaded their player which ties in to iTunes and I've been using their service for about a week. Unlike Pandora, Last.fm does not characterize the music itself to determine what type of sounds a user enjoys, instead it is a social network relying on the recommendations of others. It works pretty well and I've been listening to a lot of music that I like. However, it's all music produced by bands or musicians I already know about. I might listen to a track I haven't heard before but not a new band (yes, I listen to a lot of music so it might work a little better for you). Pandora was much better in that respect.

If Pandora disappears, Last.fm is a VERY GOOD alternative. If Pandora can survive, I think I'll stick with their service.

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