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Friday, May 04, 2007

Pandora Alternatives: Personalizing Online Music with Slacker, Seeqpod, and Last.fm

Can't access Pandora anymore? If the problem is that you're outside the US, we've got solutions that let you bypass the IP block, but in case you are looking for alternatives, we got those too. Like Musicovery and Blogmusik.net, which we've covered before, Last.fm, Seeqpod, and Slacker are respectable alternatives to Pandora for creating personalized webradio stations.

Last.fm works just like Pandora. You enter an artist you like, and it tries to find similar artists that you'll like too. Added to that, there are also some neat social features that attempt to match you to other Last.fm users based on the similarity of your musical tastes.

The genome algorithm-powered Seeqpod lets you search for music all located all over the web and add them to playlists. By far the neatest part of Seeqpod is that it lets you make a choice: you can either search directly for a song (by clicking "Search") or get a list of similar songs (by clicking "Discover"). It also searches YouTube for music videos.

Not to give you deja vu, but Slacker works just like Pandora too. You can either specify an artist that you like, or browse through the top stations based on genre (Classic Rock, Today's Hits, etc.). You can also favorite stations by adding them to your presets list.

Slacker is unique in at least one way: it plans to release what looks to be an iPod killer, the Slacker Portable Player, that will be able to sync with your Slacker profile to load up on new music whenever you get near a Wi-Fi hotspot. It also comes with a 4-inch color screen to display album art and visualizations. This promises to change the game considerably.

As you can see, there isn't much innovation in the personalized music space as far as user interface is concerned. Whether the algorithms they are using to compare songs and artists are sufficiently differentiated is another matter, and one that will depend on your own tastes. So get listening!


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Reader Comments:

Last.fm is NOT like Pandora. It works on popularity, not music genome. It means that you can't usually just pick your favourite artist of a certain style and get more music like that. For example, if I wanted to listen to acoustic guitar chillout songs I might type in Jack Johnson, but in Last.fm, I get a mix of folk balladiers David Gray and Damien Rice bellowing their lungs out into my ears and Coldplay's foot-thick layers of electronic backing - great for another time, but nothing like Jack Johnson - but they're all snapped up by the mainstream so Last.fm knows no different.

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