In my opinion, one of best ways to discover new music are through mobile applications, with multiple options available you can easily design and share your own radio station. These tools leverage unique technologies to aggregate music based on genre, artist and musical style to capture our preferences. Others offer access to vast databases of licensed music like an "All you can eat buffet" for a monthly price. Truthfully, the info I provide below is just the tip of the iceberg...
Here are in my opinion the top 3 free radio players on the market.
PANDORA - Started back in 2000, as the Genome project and rated the top music applications for mobile device and desktop computer. I might add that they are even building it in to car audio systems like Buick and BMW.
- Pros: Super Reliable on all hardware and Intelligent radio player that really captures your musical preferences. Simple & Comprehensive Design. Compatible across all devices.
- Cons: Lacks way to cache your favorite songs if you do not have internet signal and poor use of Social Media.
LAST.FM 12 millions songs - Founded in 2002 similar to the Pandora engine this system builds songs based of your musical tastes (AudioScrobbler). This system works on your mobile device, desktop and Xbox gaming center.
- Pros: Very feature-rich tool, you can find out where and when your favorite artists are touring. Social Media + Location. This means you can listen to other users playlist in your vicinity or abroad and access each others playlist while sharing through the Social outlets Twitter, Facebook etc... They have also developed a technology called "scrobble" where you can integrate your songs from the radio player with 3rd parties like Spotify or Rdio.
- Cons: Maybe too many features for the average listener (nerds rejoice), some stability issues. No iPad app. Lacks cache capabilities (way to play/store music if no mobile signal)
SLACKER 25 million songs - Founded in 2004. Their engine is unique in the fact that it is built by DJ's who develop pre-programmed artist stations i.e Holiday music, Oldies, Underground Hip-Hop etc..). The platform supports computer desktop, mobile phones and tablets including Blackberry .
- Pros: Flexibility, they support most if not all platforms out there, Cache feature (the ability to store songs or radio stations on your device) They offer diverse programming if you like to listen to ESPN radio or ABC news content. Advance settings to tweak radio stations, Published Lyrics.
- Cons: Clunky design and Boring interface. No Facebook sharing or crowdsourcing. iPad app crashes a lot...
There are even more options on the marketplace but these you have to give a little to get...$
Music Subscription services are designed to fulfill those of us with larger musical appetites. Especially the control freaks who want more options over their music library. To break it down into lamens terms - the music subscription tools are like leasing that Audi A8L versus dropping 60k to drive it of the lot .
Check out this infographic below. I particularly like "Rdio" its $10 bucks a month it works well for me and offers more than enough music than I can listen to in my lifetime. (Courtesy of Mashable)