I joined last.fm, a site which streams customised internet radio. The idea is that it learns what music you like (by eavesdropping on your computer, and via your recommendations and radio choices), and uses people’s choices to build up stations. If you’re a non-paying member, you can choose stations like ‘Similar music to Kylie Minogue [or whoever]’ or, via a tagging system, ’80s’, ‘dance’ or whatever. If you chuck some money at them – £1 a month, which seems pretty reasonable – you can get a personalised feed based on your own preferences.
It seems like a neat idea but so far I haven’t been impressed. The ‘similar music to’ feature throws up things like De La Soul, N*E*R*D and Willie Nelson as being similar to Marvin Gaye (but also, to be fair, Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone). The first two things that came up when I wanted music tagged with ‘dance’ were Oasis and Beck. And if I choose to listen to 80s music, it isn’t because I want to listen to Limp Bizkit or the Beach Boys.
On the positive side, it’s a nice clean site, the audio quality is good and the range of music available is fairly impressive, if not spectacular. Maybe they just haven’t got enough information yet to make the searches accurate. Maybe it works better if you have a personalised feed. But I doubt if I’ll stick around long enough to find out.