Tag: last.fm

Music Services with the Best Third Party Integration

The Best Music Services Part 5

Music Services Third Party Integration

This is the fifth 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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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.

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The Most Reliable Online Music Services

Who Can You Count On?

Online Music Services Reliability

One of the most important features of a streaming music service is reliability. All of the other stuff doesn’t matter much if the music keeps stuttering and dropping out or the site’s navigation flakes out all the time.

How Am I Rating this Category?

Interface and Navigation – How clean and usable is the interface? Can I quickly get into my playlists and stations? Does everything work; quickly and without hiccups?

Streaming Quality – When I click Play, what happens? 1 or 2 seconds, then music or do I get hypnotized watching a loading graphic? Does one song flow smoothly into the next or am I stuck in the waiting room?

How Did I Test?

I already use some of these services a lot, but I gave each one at least a half hour on my Desktop (Ethernet cable), Laptop (Wi-Fi) and my iPhone (over AT&T’s lousy 3G network). Let the games begin…

Reliability Comparison

ilike.com logo

iLike.com – I used to use this service a while ago, but I needed to go back and reacquaint myself before I could render judgment. 

Interface and Navigation In a word, iDon’tLike. The interface is just a mess. It takes too much work to figure out how to get a simple song to play. Then, when you click the wrong thing, you get this shuffle mode that only lets you listen to 30 seconds of a song before skipping to the next one. Huh?  (2 Stars)

Streaming Quality: Once you figure out how to work iLike, the music streaming is great and the audio quality is also. Not much to say here other than good job. (5 Stars)

Rating: 3 of 5 stars rating Could have been better if not for the crappy interface.

 

 Jango.comlogo

Jango.com – I dabbled with Jango a while back and generally liked it. Let’s see how it fares against the rest.

Interface and Navigation : Jango has a decent interface that allows you to figure out things pretty quickly. It does not have all of the features of a Last.Fm, which is exactly how they help keep the interface under control. Very nice! (4 Stars)

Streaming Quality: Songs play quickly and jump from one track to the next very quickly (aside from the occasional commercial). The audio quality is also crisp. (5 Stars)

Rating: 4 of 5 stars rating Jango has a nice mix of straight forward interface and solid streaming performance.

 

Last.FM logo

Last.FM – I use Last.FM just about every day and really enjoy it a lot.

Interface and Navigation : Interface is not Last.FM’s strong suit. They have so many powerful playlist, social networking, and music discovery features that it gets a little overwhelming. Still, it’s not as bad as iLike or Slacker. (3 Stars)

Streaming Quality: When you finally figure out how to get a song playing, it sounds and works well. At times, I do catch the occasional slow down, probably due to the huge amount of members that could be tuned in at a given time. (4 Stars)

Rating: 3 of 5 stars rating If they did an interface design they could easily break into the 4 Star group. Still, I really like this service.

MyStrands.com logo

MusicStrands.com – About 2 years ago, I loved MyStrands (MusicStrands?). Since then, they seem to be making serious efforts to destroy the service. I think that they are trying to replace it with Strands or something. Whatever!

Interface and Navigation : The site is a mess. Everything is disorganized and a mystery. (1 Star)

Streaming Quality When it works, which is rare the streaming is OK. (3 Stars)

Rating: 2 of 5 stars rating This service needs to take a long swim in the dead pool.

Pandora.com logo

Pandora.com – I listen to Pandora every single day. On my Desktop, Laptop, and iPhone. I love it!

Interface and Navigation : This is absolutely the service with the fewest features of the group. Somehow, they make that work for them though. This has the cleanest, simplest, slickest interface of the entire gang. (5 Stars) If you’re listening Last.FM, please rip off their design approach.

Streaming Quality The streaming quality is excellent. Every now and then there is a pause between songs, but it never seems that bad. (4 Stars)

Rating: 4 of 5 stars rating Bravo!

 

Shoutcast.com logo

Shoutcast.com – This actually stream other online radio stations through it’s player or your favorite desktop player. It is owned by WinAmp (AOL), so it integrates best with that player.

Interface and Navigation : The interface is easy enough to get used to. Pick a Genre, then Sub Genre, then a Station. (4 Stars)

Streaming Quality: Fast and Clear, not a whole lot to say there. (4 Stars)

Rating: 4 of 5 stars rating Pretty good with tons of choices.

 

Slacker.com logo

Slacker.com – Slacker is also a collection of online stations that you can customize. They sell their own player that you can download your favorite songs to.

Interface and Navigation : Slacker has a simple player that lets you select from a bunch of online stations. Even simpler than Shoutcast; Select a Genre, then a Station and it starts playing right away. (4 Stars)

Streaming Quality: Songs play right away and come in loud and clear on my computer or iPhone. (5 Stars)

Rating: 4 of 5 stars rating I really like Slacker.com, especially on my iPhone.

 

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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