I love listening to music on my computer and find that I do this more than with a traditional stereo system. One of my favorite discoveries has been http://www.last.fm Although it wasn't posted as one of our choices to research I had to mention it. It is similar to Pandora, in that you choose an artist and then they play a station called by that artist's name. You can customize your own home by the choices you make. You can love songs and it puts a heart next to it. Songs you love can then become an option for how you play. You can also search for all your favorite lost vinyl records and find digital versions of them. This is especially great if you are a real afficionado of certain versions of concerts etc. For example, I am a big fan of Judy Garland and I actually found the London Palladium concert and the Carnegie hall concert and was able to listen to both in their entirety without having to pay a fee. The fact that this is all free is AMAZING! Of course, if you want to own these songs you'd are given the option to purchase them from the site. Or you could always go to iTunes.
I like Pandora too, because it has many of the same options. What I found a bit annoying about Pandora is that when I chose a station based on a certain artist I only heard that artist like once or twice within a 30 minute period. If you really want to hear that artist this becomes annoying "Are they going to play any Bruce Springsteen on this Bruce station?" This randomness also is one of the things I enjoy about these two sites because I was introduced to a lot artists that I wouldn't necessarily choose to listen to normally. This widened my choices in music and also helped me develop some new favorites.
Slacker is one I hadn't tried so I did for this assignment and found it to be very similar to Pandora
and Last FM. I guess part of my dilemma is that I tend to be an album-like listener. That is I usually love to hear the entire album by one artist. The randomness of the connections these stations try to string together doesn't always make sense to me. I tend to have memories and imagery that I've associated with a certain artist or song that gets interrupted when I expect one thing and they play another. So far I think Pandora does the best job of finding similar works on their stations. Of course if you're paying attention you can always skip the artist they've chosen and move onto the next one.
Slacker is on right now and I chose the Rufus Wainwright station. They played my favorite "Hallelujah" (spelling?) and then followed up with Death Cab for Cutie and now Peter Yorn, so that's a pretty good string of stuff. Now it's the fourth song in and they're back to Rufus so that's great since he's the one I wanted to hear in the first place. I noticed though that without the premium service I can't click to peek ahead and see the next artist. You can do that with Pandora. The available collections of music on these stations seems similar.
During my Animation class we tried the SoundzAbound website. It has a somewhat limited music collection that is less about known artists and more about genres of music. It is all royalty free so students can included these clips in their multimedia pieces without having to worry. The most popular part of this site were the sound effects. They were perfect for adding sounds to animations. Some students found the lack of real "stars" kind of boring.
I like the idea that students could customize their choices with these online radio stations. During most of my art classes we listen to music at some point. If students have headphones and their own computer this would be great. If I had one computer at the front with speakers I could play and customize the art stations we like from class to class based on their choices and personalities. Unfortunately, it seems like these stations don't work really well at school on the network. They often get slow and keep trying to re-buffer. Maybe this will change as we upgrade to all wireless networks.
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