Radio’s Online Revolution

Radio's Online Revolution

Davis Walker, Staff Writer

As technology gets more and more advanced, society is going online for many of its entertainment needs. We can see this with television, movies, news, and last but definitely not least, the radio. With so many new online radio stations and music sites popping up, how does one differentiate between them? It’s not easy, but today Mirador investigates the elites of the online radio community.
Pandora Internet Radio, considered by some to be the pioneer of online radio, is an online music streaming and recommendation service. Pandora is extremely popular, logging over 150 million users as of 2012.
On Pandora, a user puts in an artist, genre or song, to create a “station.” Pandora then plays songs and artists that are similar to the one input by the user, and the user can rate them with a thumbs up or thumbs down. The ratings given by the user help determine the subsequent songs played, a concept that derives from the Music Genome Project.
“I like Pandora because they have music down to a real science,” junior Beau Trujillo said. “The Music Genome Project does comprehensive analysis of what beats people like, which has never been done before.”
Many people enjoy Pandora because it helps them discover new songs and artists. However, cons include not being able to play a specific song and the inability to skip and/or rewind songs due to legal restrictions.
Spotify is an up-and-coming online radio application that has gone from 10 million users in 2010 to 20 million users as of 2012. It is extremely popular due to its vast database of songs (20 million to be exact) and appearance similar to iTunes.
“I use Spotify because it’s easy to discover new songs and artists similar to the ones I already enjoy,” junior Jeff Phunmongkol said.
Unlike Pandora, Spotify allows the user to select any songs they want and put them into playlists, while also giving them the option to create “radios,” which function similar to Pandora. People enjoy Spotify because of the ability to play specific songs, which for some, makes a viable and cheap alternative to iTunes.
Last.fm is another online radio service that offers a music recommendation service similar to Pandora, but with a social networking aspect. Every user has a profile page with basic information like their username, avatar and total tracks played. It also lists users’ top artists and tracks, and has a tool called the “taste-o-meter” to determine music taste compatibility between two users.
Tune In is another crowd pleaser with a more conventional approach to online radio. It is basically a compilation of all the radio stations one can think of gathered  on a convenient, attractive website without any of that annoying static. The home page shows what stations are trending, along with several categories of radio to browse. These include Local, Music, News, Sports and Talk. Tune In has stations from every continent and also offers a wide variety of on demand programs.
Online radio is here to stay, and could very possibly replace conventional radio altogether. With so many different options, there is no clear cut “best” online radio website. It really depends on the user’s preference, and whether they are looking to expand their music library or just kick back and listen to old favorites.