Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pandora VS Last.Fm

Streaming radio/music stations have been around for over two decades now. However in the last 8 years or so, streaming web stations where you can customize your music choice have been popular. Pandora and Last.Fm are the leaders of this pack.

The concept behind both these services is that you stream music based on your listening preferences. Listeners create ‘stations’ based on artists and/or genres and the database behind these services send you music on your computer or mobile device. The streams themselves are generated by each service’s (quite) complex formula of similarity of music based on artist, genre, style, mood, year, etc.

Pandora is very popular in America and is the leader of the industry. Last.Fm is also popular, but is more popular in the UK and Germany (2 other countries where it is free!). They both have similar features – use on mobile devices, ability to buy music, social networking, artist information and more. But they are different as you peel off the skin-layers.

Here is a comparison of the 2 services (Winner in RED) :

CostFree for 40 hrs per month. US onlyFree in US, UK and Germany; Unlimited radio play. $3.00 in most other countries
LanguageEnglish onlyEnglish and 10 languages
Cell phone applicationYes – all major phones
Yes – some major phones
UpgradeYes $36 annually, Pandora One$3/month, Subscriber
Stream generated by (Database)Music Genome Project 400 distinct music characteristicsAudioscrobbler – based on users listening habits
VideosVideo series and ‘inside looks’. But NO artist searchYes – search of artist generates videos (from YouTube) as well
Buy MusicYes (ITunes and Amazon)Yes (Amazon)
Shows/Events/ CalendarsNOYes detailed shows and venues information, including recommendations for user
Social networking Yes – can see friends and their stations and bookmarked songs/artists. Can leave commentYes - Very advanced Facebook and MySpace like features
Desktop Client Player Yes (with Upgraded version)Yes FREE– ITunes, Windows Media Player, etc
Label and Artist uploadsNoYes: For Free (Great for aspiring artists/bands)

My verdict - If you want to listen to your type of music and are less interested in social networking and additional features, (no-frills) then Pandora is for you.
If you are interested in learning more about music, getting your own band recognized, are interested in live music, and want to connect with other people with like tastes, then Last.Fm is for you.

Winner: Last.FM
(Look for Part 2 - More feature comparisons - including searching, groups, charts, tags and more!!)

Contact me:
Sujan Manandhar
Technology Integration Specialist,
Foreign Language Center
Ohio State University