Listen to the mind-numbingly repetitive radio programming on the FM dial long enough, no matter which genre you prefer, and you might conclude that only a handful of recording artists are worth listening to.
Fire up your PC and tune in to Internet radio, on the other hand, and you’ll discover an embarrassment of riches, nearly all of which you can enjoy for free and without—or at least with very little—commercial interruption. In fact, there’s so much music that you might find yourself overwhelmed. That’s where the music discovery services Last.fm, Pandora, and Slacker come in. All three services help you discover new music based on the songs and artists you express a preference for. As interesting as that concept is, what’s even more remarkable is that each service takes a completely different approach to the mission. Let’s take a look at all three.
The online music industry has always been a touchy one, but today the world came a step closer to ending online royalty disputes. An agreement that’s being called a “breakthrough that will facilitate new ways to offer music to consumers online,” songwriters, music publishers, record labels and digital music websites have concluded a seven year dispute over mechanical royalties and limited music downloads.
Mechanical royalties are the fees paid to songwriters, composers and publishers of music, not the person that only preformed it or the record company that produced the recording. Limited music downloads are downloads with restrictions attached, such as the model used by Napster To Go. iTunes, however isn’t considered limited use because you can listen to your songs as often as you want, without a monthly fee.
As landmark as this settlement is, it still leaves a big hole on the controversial topic of Internet radio. Sites such as Pandora and Live365 remain in a high-stakes standoff with SoundExchange, the company in charge of collecting the fees for artists and record companies. The reason that sites such as these were left out from the normal Internet radio agreement is because they allow users to select the music that they want to listen to, as opposed to simply listening to a pre-determined stream of songs.