Category: Web Surfing

7 Best Community Driven Online Music Services

The Best Music Services Part 4

Best Online Music Community

One of the things that makes online music services more interesting and useful than your iTunes library is the aspect of a Music Community. Not only can you hear good music, but you can connect with friends and others who share your tastes. This allows you to socialize about your favorite artists and see what others think and listen to. I get a lot of suggestions for new music from the people in my online music communities.

 

This is the 4th article in a 5 part series on the Best Music Services on the Internet. See the rest of the series:

  1. The Most Reliable Online Music Services
  2. Online Music Services with the Best Suggestion Quality
  3. The Best Music Discovery Service
  4. Best Community Driven Online Music Services

Let’s take a look at the types of community and social networking that each of these services offeres. (P.S. If you are interested in sharing musical selections with me, there are links at the bottom of the post.)

Community Features Comparison

ilike.com logo

iLike.com – iLike is allows you to share your music tastes on Facebook, Orkut, Bebo and hi5. Using the iLike application, you can add music to your profiles, be alerted to concerts and new releases by the artists you enjoy, see what music and concerts your friends like, and communicate directly with your favorite artists.

Community Quality  Despite my many disappointments with iLike, the Community features are actually very solid. In fact, they’re probably the only reason to use this service. (4 Stars)

Rating: 4 of 5 stars ratingAt least they got something right.

 

 Jango.comlogo

Jango.com – Allows you to share music with friends and tune in to their selections.

Community Quality : The sharing features are decent, but pretty basic. (3 Stars)

Rating: 3 of 5 stars rating Ok, but nothing special.

 

Last.FM logo

Last.FM – This is another area where Last.FM shines. There are numerous ways to connect with other people the site and many popular social networks. They also include forums and groups that you can join. You can pump your listening activity out to places like Facebook, Twitter, or your blog in real-time.

Community Quality : You can connect with anyone, anywhere, on any network from Last.FM. (5 Stars)

Rating: 5 of 5 stars rating If you’re a social networking addict, this is the service for you.

 

MyStrands.com logo

MyStrands.com – They have a bunch of ordinary stuff here, but nothing special. This is probably the only feature that doesn’t suck on this site.

Community Quality : OK, but still not enough to make me use this craptacular mess. (3 Stars)

Rating: 3 of 5 stars rating

 

Pandora.com logo

Pandora.com – You can share playlists with your friends, but that’s about it.

Community Quality : This is the only disappointing feature of an otherwise amazing music experience. Maybe that’s why I like it, it’s simple. (2 Stars)

Rating: 2 of 5 stars ratingIf you don’t care about community, this is definitely the best service out there.

 

Shoutcast.com logo

Shoutcast.com – Nothing here that I can find.

Community Quality : It’s just radio as far as I can tell. (1 Star)

Rating: 1 of 5 stars ratingMan I have to make the Zero Stars image already.

 

Slacker.com logo

Slacker.com – Nothing here either. (aside from great music)

Community Quality : Not for the Web2.0 crowd. (1 Star)

Rating: 1 of 5 stars ratingIf your boss says that you’re not a team player, give this service a shot.

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The Best Music Discovery Service

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

Music Disovery If I want to hear all of my favorite songs, I can just listen to the My Top Rated” playlist in iTunes. One of the real values of a good online music service is the ability to turn you on to good new music that you DID NOT know about.

 

These days I find just about all of my bands from suggestions on my favorite services. Let’s take a look at how our players stack up on the issue of Music Discovery.

Music Discovery Comparison

ilike.com logo

iLike.com – They give you the option of seeing “New Music from Your Friends”, “New Music from Your Favorite Artists”, or “New Music from People with Similar Taste”.  These are some good ways to find good new music.

Music Discovery While there are many less-than-great things about this service, iLike does a decent job of showing me good music that I have not heard before. (4 Stars)

Rating: 4 of 5 stars rating

 

 Jango.comlogo

Jango.com – When you build a playlist, they start to suggest other artists that are similar to the ones you have selected. You can leave them alone to hear them occasionally,  add these artists to the mix to hear them often, or delete them so you never hear them. Usually I’ll add artists that I don’t know to give them a listen. If I don’t like the, I just delete them later on.

Music Discovery  Again, I always seem to .

Rating: 4 of 5 stars rating

 

Last.FM logo

Last.FM – I’m not exactly sure how Last.FM determines which new artists to play for me. I’m also not sure that they’re any good at it either. Whenever I select the “My Recommendations” option I never really like what I hear. However, when I select the “My Neighborhood” option, which plays favorites of people with similar taste to me, I usually do like what I hear. Does that mean that the masses are smarter than them? Probably.

Music Discovery  Their suggestions are actually not that good, but the “Neighborhood” ones help me find some decent new music occasionally. (3 Stars)

Rating: 3 of 5 stars rating

MyStrands.com logo

MusicStrands.com – Yet another thing that they suck at. I’m starting to wish I had just left them out of this series all together.

Music Discovery  Pure crap. (1 Star)

Rating: 1 of 5 stars rating Only because I don’t have a zero stars image.

Pandora.com logo

Pandora.com – Pandora uses some scientific mumbo-jumbo to find music that you’ll like. They constantly mix in “new” music with the songs that you already like using this algorithm. I’m not quite sure how it works, but boy does it ever!

Music Discovery  This is where Pandora leaves everyone else in the dust. They never fail to amaze me with the mix of great songs that I have heard and great songs from artists that I usually like. At least half of the cool new music that I’ve found in the last two years has come directly from Pandora recommendations. (5 Stars)

Rating: 5 of 5 stars rating I wish I could give them more than 5.

 

Shoutcast.com logo

Shoutcast.com – Shoutcast is just a collection of online radio stations. Your odds of finding good new music are only as good as the station that you pick.

Music Discovery  I’m not really that into how Shoutcast works, but I guess you could hunt around and find something worthwhile. (3 Stars)

Rating: 3 of 5 stars ratingDecent, but not for me.

 

Slacker.com logo

Slacker.com – Slacker gives you plenty of options to adjust your stations music selections. You can stick with more “familiar” music or go for a mix of “newer” artists. This generally helps you find lots of good stuff that I did not know about.

Music Discovery  If I’m in the mood to find a lot of good new music I can make Slacker send me a mix of mostly new music that I tend to like. (4 Stars)

Rating: 4 of 5 stars ratingNice job!

 

Have Your Say

Well, you know what I think, let’s hear what you think. You can select more than one choice below if you have a tie for your most reliable service.

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Online Music Services with the Best Suggestion Quality

Give the People What they Want

music-services-suggestion-quality

The best reason to use any of these music services is to have them send you great music. There are many different ways of determining what “you” will like. They all seem to straddle the line between art and science with a touch of voodoo thrown in. I have spent a lot of time trying to get a stream of good music out of all of these services. Let’s take a look at my mixed results. (Don’t forget to give your feedback in the pole and comments below.)

 

Suggestion Quality Comparison

ilike.com logo

iLike.com – They base their selections on your iTunes history and favorites of other members with “similar” tastes.

Suggestion Quality  They do a decent job of sending you songs. (3 Stars)

Rating: 3 of 5 stars rating Good, not great.

 

 Jango.comlogo

Jango.com – Jango stations play the artists you add, along with similar artists favored by other Jango users who share your taste.

Suggestion Quality : I generally like the selections along with the ways that I can modify what it sends me. (4 Stars)

Rating: 4 of 5 stars ratingVery good.

 

Last.FM logo

Last.FM – Last.FM allows you to rate songs up or down and favorite songs that you love. You can also tag songs that you listen to. It also pulls your iTunes data to determine what you like.

Suggestion Quality : It does a very good job of selecting music that I like. (4 Stars)

Rating: 4 of 5 stars ratingVery, very good.

MyStrands.com logo

MyStrands.com – When you go to the My Recommendations page it shows you a bunch of songs based on your play history in iTunes. The recommendations are not really that great.

Suggestion Quality : This is just another disappointing feature of MyStrands. (2 Stars)

Rating: 2 of 5 stars ratingNot good!

Pandora.com logo

Pandora.com – Pandora lets you rate songs up and down and bookmark (favorite) songs and artists. It is very quick to put together a batch of songs that I just end up liking. They base their picks on the Music Genome project, which uses data entered by music “experts” to indentify what makes music similar.

Suggestion Quality : This is where Pandora really shines. It just keeps picking one great choice after another. (5 Stars)

Rating: 5 of 5 stars rating It’s not perfect, but it’s the best.

 

Shoutcast.com logo

Shoutcast.com – Shoutcast is really just a collection of radio stations. It’s a straight one-way push. They do have a ton of stations to choose from, so you can usually find something you like, but it does not adapt to you in any way that I can see.

Suggestion Quality : There are no suggestions. You just hunt around and hope you like what you find. (1 Star)

Rating: 1 of 5 stars ratingHit or Miss.

 

Slacker.com logo

Slacker.com – The web player and iPhone players both allow you to rate and bookmark songs that you like and dislike. After doing this for a while, you get a pretty good flow of songs that you like.

Suggestion Quality : It takes a little while to fine tune, but it does send you a nice mix of songs based on your feedback. (4 Stars)

Rating: 4 of 5 stars ratingVery, very good.

 

Have Your Say

Well, you know what I think, let’s hear what you think. You can select more than one choice below if you have a tie for your most reliable service.

Continue reading

The Best Music Service on the Internet

Separating the Contenders from the Pretenders

Best Online Music Services There are a bazillion services out there that will stream music to you over the interwebs.  A few are amazing an then there are well…”the rest”.

Loading up a few hundred thousand songs and streaming them is not really that big of a deal. The “special sauce” is what adds real value to these services.

Let’s to take a look a some of the major players in this space to see how they all stack up.

The Contenders

I will be evaluating the following seven music streaming services.

Music Services Compared

iLike.com -enables fans to discover and share playlists, new music that matches their personal tastes, and concerts by their favorite artists. iLike offers retail links to iTunes and Amazon to purchase music, Ticketmaster to purchase concert tickets and Thumbplay for ringtones.

Jango.com  – Jango is a social music service that lets you create and share custom radio stations. It’s the easy way to play the music you want online, legally and free.

Last.FM – Last.fm is a music service that learns what you love.
Every track you play will tell your Last.fm profile something about what you like. It can connect you to other people who like what you like – and recommend songs from their music collections and yours too.

MusicStrands.com – MyStrands’ Social Recommender is capable of automatically learning people’s tastes and how their preferences evolve over time. It can be used to generate real-time music recommendations.

Pandora.com – Together, ateam of fifty musician-analysts has been listening to music, one song at a time, studying and collecting literally hundreds of musical details on every song. It takes 20-30 minutes per song to capture all of the little details that give each recording its magical sound – melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics … and more – close to 400 attributes! They continue this work every day to keep up with the incredible flow of great new music coming from studios, stadiums and garages around the country.

Shoutcast.com – SHOUTcast Radio offers thousands of free Internet radio stations from DJs and broadcasters around the world.

Slacker.com – Slacker is what radio was meant to be: personal, portable and free. Slacker attempts to deliver free personalized radio that is customized for everyone. Slacker combines the knowledge of the nation’s leading music experts from every genre and your own personal tastes to create the perfect radio stations for each and every listener.

If there are any that are missing, add them in the comments and I’ll try to cover them in a subsequent article.


fixtunes

How We’ll Pick a Winner

I want to base my analysis on a combination of science and art. I have broken out five categories on which all of the services will be judged:

  1. Reliability – How robust is a service? Does everything work solidly and smoothly or do the songs pause and jerk like a spastic drunken sailor?
  2. Suggestion Quality – How good is a service at playing music that you like? Does it send you a non-stop stream of awesome tunes or leave you scratching your head?
  3. Music Discovery – How good is a service at finding new music that you like? Is it more of the same old stuff or are you constantly saying, “I have to get more stuff by these guys?”
  4. Community – How good is the community around a service. Are your friends all there? Do you find and interact with other people who have a similar interest? Or, is it just a radio station on your computer?
  5. Integration – How well does a service play with the outside world? Does a service allow you to: import data from your desktop and MP3 player, send data out to other services like Facebook and Twitter, provide a client for your phone?

 

Each category will be broken down in a separate article where you will be able to vote. The votes for each category will be displayed in a sortable table so that you can decide which player is best suited to your priorities.

This is the Introductory article in a 5 part series on the Best Music Services on the Internet. See the rest of the series:

  1. The Most Reliable Online Music Services
  2. Online Music Services with the Best Suggestion Quality
  3. The Best Music Discovery Service
  4. Best Community Driven Online Music Services
  5. BBest Third Party Integration among Online Music Services

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Why #FollowFridays are Broken and How a #TuesTorial Will Fix Them

Sharing the Best Tutorials on Twitter

tuestorials on VitaminCM.com If any of you are Twitter users, you’re probably aware of the #followfriday phenomena. The original theory to tell the people that you follow about other Twitter users who regularly post interesting, useful tweets. This is a great concept that helped me find a bunch of good people to follow.

Recently #followfriday seems a lot more like an artificial, obligatory way for everyone to pump up each others follower counts.

I still do post the occasional #followfriday tweet using the following guidelines:

  1. They are someone whose tweets regularly add value to my experience.
  2. I can provide a reason for why I’m recommending them. (for example, #followfriday @abc123 They have the best information on #letters and #numbers anywhere on the web)

This serves two important purposes: It lets you know why you might care and the #tags give a little “twitter-wide” credit to the person being recommended. (Help the follower and followee; good idea, right?)

My Variation on the #FollowFriday Theme

VitaminCM.com is all about helping you learn how to do things. So I came up with the a twist to the original idea that will hopefully help pass on useful information. I’m calling it #TuesTorial.

During the week, I’m going to bookmark any good tutorials that I come across. Each Tuesday I’ll tweet the ones that I think are particularly helpful. If you would like to see my suggestions, just follow me on Twitter.

They will also be posted here in the sidebar widget.

Here is the format that I will be observing:

#Tuestorial – Great video showing how to do #XYZ – link.url/12345

I promise not to shamelessly promote any of my own articles, just other people’s work that I think is excellent.

If you want to see my suggestions follow me on Twitter. (They will also appear in the Twitter widget to the right.)

Your Call to Action – Please Join In the Fun

If you really like the idea of sharing helpful tips, please join in. I really want to see the tutorials that you recommend, so put your @Twitter name in the comments below so that I can follow you.

Who knows, if your tweets are any good, I might just #FollowFriday you. ; )

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