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) :
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.
(Look for Part 2 - More feature comparisons - including searching, groups, charts, tags and more!!)
Technology Integration Specialist,
Foreign Language Center
Ohio State University