Friday, May 17, 2013 - 12:20pm
Gizmodo contributor Mario Aguilar decided to find the best "automated DJ" on a streaming music or Internet radio service, pitting eight top services against each other for his "The Best Streaming Radio."
His original intent was to find the service with the algorithm that created the best sounding user-generated station (he only considered services that offer "generative playlists" -- the ability for users to create "stations" on the fly by simply typing in a single artist, song title, or genre). Nearly immediately he realized picking a winner based solely on a good mix was futile, as they all, by and large, do a pretty good job at this task.
So he widened his considerations to other facets of the services -- "integration with social networks to the design and overall usability of each service's unique features" -- for the shoot-out.
I'll let you click through to see his ranking, but I'll include a few of his points here about specific services:
Turns out he's not a fan of Clear Channel's iHeartRadio service, which (he wrote), "does so little and doesn't do it especially well." He called it "radio in the most traditional sense," and didn't mean it as a compliment, since "regular radio stations are terrible, which is why we turned to the Internet in the first place."
Pandora, which is "showing its age," only fared a little better. He found the service "less evolved" with only "very basic" social integration -- but "if Pandora has a selling point it's simplicity."
And though Last.fm may still have something to offer, in 2013 it "feels ancient." In fact, its concentration on scrobbling (tracking what you listen to on other services) makes it "more of a recommendation engine than a polished way to listen."
Aguilar actually had some high praise for Slacker's human-curated stations, which he says offer the "kind of variety you can't get from a machine." But, alas, this shoot-out was for algorithm-driven "generative playlist" channels. And the newly-redesigned Slacker interface seemed "ambitious and very good- looking, but it's pretty confusing" and "needs streamlining." Perhaps even worse, he said Slacker "completely missed the potential of social" media integration.
So -- does any service offer anything he likes? See which topped Gizmodo's The Best Streaming Radio here.