In the old days, radio disc jockeys controlled what music was heard over the public airways. Nowadays, everyone's a music critic, and we rely on friends (virtual and otherwise) to recommend new sounds. This week's crop of sites use the power of the Internet and social networking to take music discovery to new heights.
Release your inner DJ and create an Internet radio station to share with friends (and the whole world.) So what exactly is a blip? It's a single music track accompanied by a short text message. Blip.fm is a Twitter-like social network that allows you to follow other DJ's with similar music tastes, and to see what sounds your friends are listening to. With good integration between Blip.fm and Twitter, FriendFeed and Ping.fm, Blip.fm is also a way to integrate music with your existing social media activities such as Facebook or MySpace.
iLike is a social network application with over fifty million members who share music recommendations, playlists, and personalized concert alerts on networks such as Facebook and MySpace. The first step is to scan your existing iTunes music library and install the iTunes sidebar plugin. Next is to add iLike to your Facebook or other social network profile. Using the wisdom of crowds, iLike will recommend music you're likely to enjoy, and let your friends know what you are listening to.
New in version 8 of the free Apple music organizer iTunes, is Genius, a recommendation engine and playlist creator. To get recommendations of songs not already in your library, add the Genius Sidebar (select Genius in the View dropdown menu.) To create custom playlists based on a single song, click the Genius icon in the lower-right hand corner when that song is selected. These created playlists are terrific fun, and are based on the playing habits of millions of users.
Last.fm is a personalized streaming radio station, with a playlist based on any artist or genre you choose, as well as a music recommendation engine connected to your computer and iPod. "Last.fm turns what millions of people listen to into the perfect mix for you." After downloading their Scrobbler software (for Windows, Mac or Linux), Last.fm will "scrobble" any song you listen to on your computer or iPod, and automatically add it to your Last.fm profile. The more music you "scrobble," the more accurate your recommendations.
Pandora's recommendation engine is based on their Music Genome Project, and works a little differently than other Internet music discovery sites. Built around a collection of hundreds of musical attributes (or "genes"), they "capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony." You can enjoy the results by creating a streaming radio station based on an artist or song, or listening to stations created by others.