I'm in search of the infinite playlist.
January 8, 2009 6:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm in search of the infinite playlist. I work from home and listen to music via the internet all day pretty much every day and I've become very bored with my current options.

I've been using Pandora for a long time, but I've found that it is just too repetitive if you listen to it all day. I've created new stations, added new seeds, removed seeds, told it not to play songs for the next thirty days, etc - essentially all the things you are supposed to do if you find that Pandora is getting too repetitive.

And yet, I still find it too repetitive. On top of that, my tastes are extremely eclectic and I love discovering new music, but I find that I'm not doing that on Pandora any more.

So, what I am looking for is a (free) endlessly eclectic stream of music that I can listen to all day. This can be an internet radio station or it can be a Pandora-like app. The broader the better (I'm talking way more eclectic than Morning Becomes Eclectic). I want rock, rap, country, world, jazz, classical, and anything and everything else - i.e. the infinite playlist. Any suggestions?
posted by cmaxmagee to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Have you looked into last.fm? It can learn your tastes (similarly to Pandora, I guess) or you can tap into similar artists, similar tags, etc.
posted by aeighty at 6:27 PM on January 8, 2009

soma.fm ?
posted by iamabot at 6:31 PM on January 8, 2009

Best answer: I like RadioParadise quite a bit. They try to keep the stream varied and eclectic and have a fairly wide listening base who vote up/down and comment on songs. Worth checking out, if you haven't already.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 6:34 PM on January 8, 2009

Try last.fm or shoutcast. They require more manual management, but you usually get good results. I abandoned pandora for last.fm a while ago
posted by phrakture at 6:42 PM on January 8, 2009

playlists on youtube aren't too bad, although you have to stop every 30 songs or so and do a search for a new one.
posted by sandking at 6:44 PM on January 8, 2009

last.fm is good for this. For really wild variety (but uneven quality control) I like thesixtyone.com.
posted by escabeche at 6:56 PM on January 8, 2009

I enjoy pandora which is very similar to last.fm.
posted by icebourg at 7:02 PM on January 8, 2009

Oops, sorry, I see you already ruled Pandora out. Reading comprehension fail. :-(
posted by icebourg at 7:03 PM on January 8, 2009

Best answer: Hype Machine
posted by phrontist at 7:23 PM on January 8, 2009

Anyone out there get the sense of payola on last.fm? I get stuff recommended to me all the time that does not have any relevance to my listening habits, and much from unsigned bands. Sometimes, when I've marked that I like something, the artist posts on my shoutbox within a couple minutes.

If you play "Your Recommendations", it can get repetitive, IME.
posted by quarantine at 7:24 PM on January 8, 2009

Best answer: I work for a college radio station called Radio Free Lexington, we have an extremely high quality stream and play all of the genres you mentioned and more. Go to the playlist tab a search a few random artists and I'm sure many of even the more obscure ones have been played. We're not all awesome all the time (varies with academic season a bit), but I think we do a damn good job.

WFMU is sweet as well, and certainly eclectic by any measure.
posted by phrontist at 7:27 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

so is dig from Australia - quite a variety of eclectic, non-repetitive music.
posted by ourroute at 7:44 PM on January 8, 2009

I listen to WFMU a lot for just the kind of variety you're looking for, and when I'm not on WFMU I use last.fm mostly via artist and tag search. For instance, I was in the mood for avant-garde glassical today, so I played the Ligeti artist radio which entertained me for hours with Boulez, Reich, Stockhausen, etc. Then I switched to raga tag radio for a while. Some artists and tags work better than others to seed interesting results, but it doesn't take long to find something good. I also participate slightly in last.fm's social networking side, and when I find someone with interesting taste I friend 'em and then I can play their radio for a while. The system automatically generates "neighbors" for you, people with taste somewhat like yours, and I choose neighbors at random and listen to their streams. That's a good way to broaden what last.fm thinks of as your taste, but without being completely random.
posted by moonmilk at 7:50 PM on January 8, 2009


(with limited commercial interruptions)
posted by qvtqht at 8:03 PM on January 8, 2009

Best answer: Minnesota Public Radio's The Current (http://minnesota.publicradio.org/radio/services/the_current/) is my favorite radio station. I listen to it all day.
posted by mgerstenblatt at 8:24 PM on January 8, 2009

Anyone out there get the sense of payola on last.fm? I get stuff recommended to me all the time that does not have any relevance to my listening habits, and much from unsigned bands. Sometimes, when I've marked that I like something, the artist posts on my shoutbox within a couple minutes.

If you play "Your Recommendations", it can get repetitive, IME.

This happens because last.fm is integrated to help artists understand their market better. I guess a few are a little too eager to have a fanbase?

However payola doesn't happen. Instead, the problem is that last.fm has much more unsigned music than other sites, in addition to their massive library of signed musicians. Because people don't listen to the unsigned stuff as nearly as much, the matching algorithm may be having a tough time figuring out the similarities between it and other music. As the number of last.fm's listeners continues to grow, the matching algorithm will only get better.

This is different than Pandora. Pandora pays unemployed musicians to listen to music and rate it on a dozens of attributes. What is the tempo? Does it have a prominent base line? etc. Then, the more attributes that artists and songs share, the more likely they are to be paired. Last.fm uses its users listening habits to find similar songs. At its most basic level, if you and I and some guy in Seattle listen to the same ten bands, but the Seattle guy and I also listen to a band that you never listen to, it recommends that band to you because you would probably like that. The algorithm is a bit more complex then that (for instance, it weights the recommendation by similarity between users, if I remember correctly), but that's essentially how it works.

In my mind, Pandora's recommendations are very static, but last.fm's have the ability to learn.
posted by Pants! at 8:35 PM on January 8, 2009

iTunes streaming radio?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:00 PM on January 8, 2009

I'm seconding slacker.com. Haven't used it very long, but seems every bit as good as pandora, just slightly more unusual in its selections.
Or maybe that's just my stations...
posted by photomusic86 at 9:02 PM on January 8, 2009

nthing last.fm. I started off with a week or so of my own music collection and with "Artist Radio", which plays music similar to one main artist (similar to Pandora). Then I listened to "My Recommendations" for a few weeks, and these days I just listen to "My Neighborhood" which plays a range of music that seems just a little outside of stuff I own or have heard before. If it weren't free I'd pay for it, and I've seriously contemplated an iPhone just for the last.fm app.

I was using Pandora before I switched to last.fm, and for some reason it ALWAYS settled on '80s era synth-rock on my main channel, despite my attempts to diversify it. I guess the intersection of Brian Wilson, the New Pornographers, and ambient was terrible 80s keyboard rock. My attempt to put together a jazz channel was just as painful--it was always tenor saxes and cheesy guitar licks, regardless of what I started with.
posted by Benjy at 9:25 PM on January 8, 2009

Nthing last.fm. I listen to whatever mefites are listening to!
posted by typewriter at 9:27 PM on January 8, 2009

Best answer: I queue three streaming radio stations on Winamp:

KFJC: local (norCal) college station. They're eclectic, featuring the Norman Bates Memorial Soundtrack show every Saturday morning.

WFMU: North Jersey station mentioned above. Varies from "Yo La Tengo is Murdering the Classics" (YLT plays requests that they don't know), to Meat Beat Manifesto playing Christmas music, to 6 hours of "Jingle Bells" available for download.

WWOZ: Do you know what it means to listen to a New Orleans station for hours? Find out here. Jazz, New Orleans, Blues, et. al.

An unreliable wireless connection disconnects every few hours, changing the station.

Mix and make your own combination of stations on, say, iTunes.
posted by doncoyote at 11:48 PM on January 8, 2009

This won't give you an unending stream, but the BBC has some great music. On BBC Radio 1, you can listen to most of the shows for one week after airing. They also have additional music channels that I have been exploring, BBC 6, and BBC 3.

The BBC is my great source for finding new music.
posted by hazyspring at 7:09 AM on January 9, 2009

My favorite internet radio station is WOXY, formerly a broadcast station that went internet-only way back in 1998. They call themselves a rock station, but in my experience of listening to them for hours at a time, they're way more eclectic than that.
posted by dicaxpuella at 8:04 AM on January 9, 2009

ditto WOXY. It's a great mix of indie/rock. No commercials. It's basically what the perfect college radio station would sound like: consistently great music, some that are familiar but some that are not, interesting new songs but nothing horribly noisy/awful, nobody saying "ummm....uhhhhhh" during the breaks, etc.
posted by radioamy at 11:23 AM on January 9, 2009

I can stand music for longer if I don't understand the words. Broaden your horizons & listen to some good foreign music.

Also +1 Radio Paradise, though they can get too much into a single mood - an hour of depressing droning music is too much. At other times it's brilliant, mixing some of my favorite artists across genres.
posted by Muffy at 12:46 PM on January 9, 2009

When WFMU is playing music I don't like, I switch over to WCBN, which is freeform from Ann Arbor. Good stuff.
posted by klangklangston at 8:50 PM on January 9, 2009

Yahoo!'s LaunchCast is very similar to Pandora with a very different selection of songs. I get it without commercials for free because I have SBC Yahoo! DSL. Give it a whirl. I actually prefer LaunchCast's star rating to Pandora's simpler thumbs up / thumbs down system.
posted by blahtsk at 10:55 PM on January 9, 2009

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