Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'm Over Pandora

Although I listen to 6 or more hours of streaming music a day, and Pandora is still the go-to option for millions of users, I just don’t use it anymore. So what do I listen to while I work? Two things.

NPR Music

I love NPR for morning news (it’s my clock radio's default station) and its programming, especially This American Life and The Moth (subscribe to their weekly podcasts - you will not regret it). But if you dig around on their website, you’ll find that they offer dozens of amazing, commercial free stations of nearly every genre.

My pick: KEXP out of Seattle. I catch their morning show when I get in the office, and I might hear anything from Johnny Cash to Metric to Death Cab to KRS One to Sharon Jones. Not only do they feature a fantastic mix of indie and classic rock, but they also have a great catalog of live, in-studio performances.

Why is it better than Pandora?

Well, because Pandora’s catalog is actually quite small and although their predictive algorithm is fascinating (I even wrote about it), I don’t think it’s the best way to find new music. I get my recommendations from some very passionate DJs with years of experience and quirky yet sophisticated tastes. Also, there’s something to be said for the occasional 60 second interlude of banter, which provides a nice bookend for a three or four song set.

How do you listen?

You can go directly to KEXP’s website and begin streaming immediately (go to the Listen Now link on the top left of the page). If you want a change of pace, check out NPR’s music page and find a station that suits your interests.

Side note: I’d also recommend that you download VLC Media Player (an open source alternative to Windows Media Player), and use it stream music. Windows Media Player is terrible. Trust me, this is much better for music, videos, etc.

What if you want to hear a specific song or artist?

Are you not on the Grooveshark train yet? Go there immediately and start streaming artists and albums, or create a profile and share playlists and favorites. It’s fantastic, and if you really miss the suggestion feature of Pandora, then you can click on the radio button and Grooveshark with automatically add some tracks to your playlist.

If you work a desk job like I do, then give NPR Radio and Grooveshark a shot. They might make your day a little bit better.

Also, props to Dustin for turning me on to KEXP.

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