exportable radio

Earlier I wrote (in a deleted post that went to feed first): just debuted a new (currently subscriber-only) beta site. Not a lot of big changes (a good thing!). The coolest change is that you can now create playlists and embed them in your blog. So let’s see if this cute little playlist of songs you can download for free on their site works here.

Well, it didn’t, plus it screwed up the blog formatting something awful, though I think that’s my blog theme’s fault and not’s. I’d embed it in the sidebar but that seems a little too far astray from this blog’s purpose. Plus it’s too wide.

You can also now export your personal radio stream to another site — that means all the songs it knows that I’ve listened to since subscribing that it has rights to license (a lot of them!) can now be embedded as a flash player radio in any website I have. Not a player that automatically makes noise when you load the page (is that MySpace’s most annoying quality or what?), but one that lets you click to play. And they are going to make this available to everyone, not just subscribers.  This is something users have been requesting for quite a while.
This effectively means that everyone can easily run a radio station of the music they listen to off of their web page (MySpace page too). I’d think that as more of these start popping up on websites outside it will generate a lot of viral publicity for them and get more people using their service.
Color me impressed.

Music charts for geeks like me

One of the interesting things about all these different social music sites is the different sorts of charts they make of your listening habits. I’m much more taken with the ones that attend to actual listening or collection contents than the ones where you list the bands you like (as on MySpace) because it’s a bit less open to gaming (though certainly people leave their computer playing something cool while they’re out so they will appear more cool to the outside world, or turn off the plugin when they listen to something embarrassing). So it’s fun to compare the different kinds of charts the different sites generate for you. Everything you’ve listened to (since you signed up and started using the plugin) that its plugins capture. You can look at it by overall artists, albums, or songs by the week (any week), or rolling 3 month, six month, or year charts. There are some problems (of course) — some listens don’t get captured, like if you listened to your iPod then on your computer without updating the iPod it loses the iPod listens or if you stream radio from something other than Pandora (it can now listen in on Pandora with a plugin), and the site is slow to learn about new albums so the artist charts tend to be more accurate.
iLike: Sucks up the whole iTunes history by most-listened, so you get an overall chart that goes back as far as your iTunes library. If you don’t use iTunes, too bad (for now), and there’s no ways to vary the charts by time period, though you can look at artists or songs. Since it gets everything on iTunes, for those who use iTunes and only listen to that and iPods, it’s pretty accurate.
MOG: Sucks up the iTunes library and sorts it by the number of songs, and gives most listened to this week, but doesn’t give overall most listened to charts. On MOG, it notes that I have more REM songs in my catalogue than Madrugada songs, whereas on that information is lost, but it knows that these days I listen to Madrugada three times as much as I listen to REM.

All of these have their strengths, and it’s amazing how, once you’ve got personal charts, there’s no going back. It becomes an essential part of understanding your own musical taste and, for some anyway, an essential part of self-presentation to others ( gives you code so you can export a variety of chart types to any web site, iLike and MOG let you export your chart to MySpace).

But what it’s got me thinking is, for all Apple’s brilliance, why isn’t this stuff built into iTunes? How much cooler would it be if we could use the music libraries on our computers to display wide varieties of charts and export them to websites with ease.

Signing up for 3 music networking sites

My mission for this year, foolish though I may be to take it on, is to explore as many of the music-based social networking sites as I can. I’ve been using for just over a year now and am relatively if not completely happy with it. Up until summer, they didn’t seem to have much competition at all, but now there are competitors cropping up like weeds in my Kansas garden (which would be the reason I gave up on growing vegetables and resorted to large semi-invasive perennial flowers).

As of now, I’ve signed up with three other services: iLike, Reverbnation, and MOG. Actually, come to think of it, I signed up with Pandora a while ago and now that it’s gone more social I’ll have to pop back in. So today I bring you first impressions:

iLike: Very sleek simple interface. I downloaded its “bundle” and it sucked up my complete iTunes listening history in no time. The result was an instant chart that was pretty interesting to compare to my chart since it had a few more years of data in it. It also came up with some relatively instant “people with similar taste” for me, which was nice. They weren’t great matches, but my taste is a weird enough amalgamation of things that I don’t expect great matches. I was more than a little turned off to find a provocative babe in my inbox welcoming me to the site since the staff blog pictures suggested an all-male staff. Going for the hormonal male crowd, I guess, which I am not. It’s got very cool YouTube integration, and nicely highlights where you can stream songs or sections of them. But it’s also somehow flat. It didn’t make me want to explore, it was just kind of there. And the iTunes sidebar you have to have in order for it to know what you’re playing felt invasive after a little while. It didn’t stay shut but reopened itself every time I reopened the iTunes window (even if I hadn’t quit iTunes) so I uninstalled it, which made the site considerably less useful.

MOG: Apparently this site has lots of buzz for being so social and, along with Reverbnation, it just won Mashable’s people’s choice award for music social networking site ( won the editors’ choice). I signed up about 10 hours ago and I hate it already. Why? Because I downloaded its “Mog-o-matic” plug-in that is supposed to tell it what I’ve got in my music library and TEN HOURS LATER it is still crunching away and is NOT YET HALF WAY THROUGH. I have 7500 songs in there. It’s big, but it’s not absurd. It seems to be checking each and every song against Gracenote. WHY? I’m too annoyed by this to comment on any of the other features right now (later, fear not). Plus it is slowing down my computer dramatically.

Reverbnation: I love the concept of this site with its focus on linking bands to fans in useful ways and giving money to artists. But you can only mark yourself as loving bands that have created their own presence there. Given that all the bands I love are long-since broken up or not on the site, this is rather a large barrier to entry. I can imagine that in the days of my total immersion in local music scenes and regional bands on national tours, it would have been a necessity, and I can see why the people who are loving it are loving it.

A potentially-relevant disclaimer is that I am working with, though providing PR and remaining mum about their competitors’ strengths are not among my duties. iLike seems to be a pretty straightforward competitor, MOG seems to be going for similar stuff, but highlighting finding new people via music rather than’s focus on finding new music via people. Reverbnation is doing its own thing, and seems least like a direct competitor of the three.

If you’re using any of these services, I’d love to hear your impressions.

Pandora Gets Social

Pandora has now added the social features it promised a few months ago.

… as of today users can now list bio information, leave comments, bookmark other users and create artist lists.

…While the focus of Pandora hasn’t radically shifted, the new features do put some additional emphasis on Pandora users and community, rather than just services.

All the new profile features come with privacy controls, users can set their profiles public or private and turn comments on and off. It would nice if Pandora had an option to control the privacy of comments rather than just turning them on and off, for instance perhaps an option to allow trusted users to comment but block everyone else. Unfortunately that isn’t currently possible.

In addition to the new profile features, there’s also a couple of new search possibilities that let you find other users with similar tastes. When you find another user with a station that fits your musical taste, you can add that person by clicking the blue “bookmark this person” button on their profile page (assuming their profile is public).

Good stuff.

This adds Pandora to the growing list of music-based social networking sites, along with, MOG, iLike, ProjectOPUS, Finetune, Goombah, Lala, Haystack, MusicHawk, ReverbNation, Bandwagon

And to think that just a few months ago it really looked like had no competition.

My ambition (well, one of them) for the new year is to spend some time exploring these sites and figuring out just what they have in common and where they differ. If you know any others I should add to the list, or have opinions about any of the ones I’ve mentioned, please leave mention in the comments.

Zeromind’s Social Network Website

Metal band Zeromind have put out a press release claiming they are the first band with their own social networking site. I’m always skeptical of claims to be the first anything, but I don’t know of any other band sites like their’s (if you do please tell me!).

They’ve got the usual stuff about them — videos, news, forums, etc — but they’ve also got it set up with user profiles, user blogs, and are generally doing an ace job of putting the focus on the fans as individuals.

I’m of 2 minds about this. Heaven knows I can get as obsessive about a band as anyone. Just ask my 10 year old son who would be happy never to hear Madrugada again as long as he lives. But how much of your online identity construction do you really want to invest in one band’s space? The beauty of something like MySpace or MOG or Last.FM is that you can have your music-based profile where you show off that you’re in love with that one band the most, but you can construct yourself a music-based identity that is wider than that slice of your taste. What do you do when Zeromind put out a record that you don’t like? Or break up?

At any rate, the proof is in the pudding, and they’ve certainly got a lot of action going on there so it’s probably a model worth watching. If they really want it to take off though, they may want to speed up its load times. And be warned if you go investigating that you’re gonna get a really loud blast of their music out your speakers as soon as it does load.