If you only want the bare bones: if you hear a track you like while you are out use Shazam (dial 2580 in the UK) to find out what it is (it idenitifies the song from its database and texts you) and then as soon as you are at your computer fire up Pandora or Last.fm and build a virtual radio station of music based on what those services think you’ll like.
A Shazandora (or Lashtazam) later and it turns out you don’t just get introduced to a new band like this you set the various recommendation engines in play and discover whole new sub-genres, clusters of bands you may never have heard of…
The opposite of the “if you think of it it’s probably already out there in beta” thing about the web is that you tend to assume that most people have head of services you’ve been using for a while. Mostly, unless they are in the same part of your online networks, they haven’t it turns out.
When I was in Berlin I delighted a couple of fellow bloggers by showing them Pandora and Last.fm – which I’ve raved about here before but if you missed it are two services which stream music to you based on your tastes. They are both kind of social networks as well – allowing people to share lists and favourites with one another.
In summary, Pandora is mainly computer driven (a database or “music genome”) guesses what you will like based on whole bunch of computer wizardry. It’s also best for casual users – anyone can use it straight off. Aat some point you will have to register and use a US post code (your New York apartment’s one or ahem, 90210, seems to do the trick).
Last.fm’s a little more involving and human / wisdom of the crowds based. Last.fm will do much the same thing but also is a social network which will show you people with similar tastes and is very interested in knownig everything about the music you like. You download a little app called a “scrobbler” which as well as serving as your virtual radio station (not always as smooth as Pandora for this, I’ve found) records everything you ever listen to, love (and why, in the form of tags) and hate.
Commenting on Ewan McIntosh’s post about his discovery of Pandora I left a comment about a great combo of services I’ve been using recently and thought it’s probably worth repeating here:
I heard a couple of tracks – one in a coffee shop, the other in a bar – over the past couple of weeks that I instantly loved. A Shazam and a Pandora(Shazandora? Lashtazam?) later and it turns out you don’t just get introduced to a new band like this you set the various recommendation engines in play and discover whole new sub-genres, clusters of bands you may never have heard of…
: : BTW Shazam‘s offering a month’s free “tags” (attempts to recoginise songs on your mobile) if you register on the website at the moment.