review

iTunes Radio review: "First truly modern take on what terrestrial radio wishes it could be"

Friday, June 21, 2013 - 12:50pm

Fast Company's FastCoLabs has reviewed Apple's upcoming iTunes Radio (it's available to developers through the iOS 7 beta, which you can get here) -- and seems really enthused by the way Apple links song plays to purchase opportunities via iTunes.

"Radio was always meant to be a promotion tool, a way to sell more music," blogger Tyler Hayes wrote (he blogs at Liisten.com and contributes to Hypebot). "Now a 'buy' button lives next to every song, or a wish list one for those hesitant, and it feels like this is how modern radio should function."

Now, we've always felt that most professional webcast services make it plenty easy to buy the music you hear. But, arguably, already being "in" iTunes (and, more importantly, having those purchases affect the music you hear on your personal stations) seems pretty advantageous.

Another cool feature Hayes brings up is the "Song History," where you can go back and see what you've already heard, get a short audio sample to remind you which track it was that caught your ear 20 minutes ago, and buy it. Hayes calls it the "crown feature." He says, "iTunes Radio feels like the first truly modern take on what terrestrial radio wishes it could be."

Read the review here.

Wired's Geek Mom: Squeezebox Touch "revolutionized the way I listen to music"

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 11:25am

Squeezebox Touch"The Squeezebox Touch makes me feel like Jane Jetson," writes Sarah Pinault in Wired's Geek Mom section. But does the touchscreen desktop music streaming device "meet the needs of this geek family"?

The Squeezebox Touch from Logitech -- among many functions -- can stream music from Pandora, Songza, Slacker, Last.fm, Live365 and thousands of streaming radio stations from around the world.

"Just by touching the screen I can access any type of music from any country. I can listen to talk radio, non-stop music radio, or simply listen to a playlist," writes Pinault. "I am far more likely to utilize this device to its full potential than I am of searching for local or even international radio stations online. The Logitech Squeezebox has revolutionized the way I listen to music and has rekindled my love of the medium."

You can find her full review on Wired here. The Squeezebox Touch is available on Amazon for $240 (here).

RAIN reviews Groove 2 and its endlessly interesting mixes of your own music

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - 11:10am

Groove 2Over the past few days, I've found myself listening to less radio and more of my own music collection via my iPod Touch. Not because I'm in the mood for a single artist or album, but becuase I've discovered an app that essentially turns my music collection into a captivating radio station.

The app is called Groove 2. It works by analyzing the music stored on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad and then offering an endless range of music mixes:

  • Mixes of music based on an artist, song or genre
  • "Three of a Kind" mixes that play a series of artists, 3 songs at a time
  • "Better Together" mixes that match two complementary artists
  • "Favorites" that play just music you've listened to frequently

The result is, for all intents and purposes, a mini radio station made up of my own music. As The Next Web writes, Groove 2 acts "just like your own personal DJ."

You can create your own mixes by picking artists and songs, but the real appeal of Groove 2 is that it generates a large, fascinating selection of mixes for you on the home screen. There's even a "Surprise Me" button that picks a random mix of music for you. It's a wonderful way to rediscover music you haven't listened to in a while, or maybe not at all. 

Groove 2 also pulls artist photos and bios from Last.fm, along with music tags to create music mixes. So this morning, for example, Groove 2 suggested I listen to a mix of "glo-fi" music. It turned out to be excellent, though I'd be hard-pressed to explain what "glo-fi" actually is. 

So now, when I'm not sure what I want to listen to, I find myself not opening Pandora or looking for a FM stream. Instead I open up Groove 2 and listen to my own music in a new way.

The app is normally $4 from the Apple App Store, but is temporarily discounted to $2. You can find it here and find more coverage from The Next Web here. -- MS

Sonic Seeds aims to "provide better recommendations" than Pandora, but not there yet

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 12:30pm
Sonic Seeds is a new webcaster with Pandora-like personalization
 
Sonic Seeds is a new Internet radio service that aims to take on Pandora. Indeed, the service does allow users to create personalized radio stations based on artists or songs. Sonic Seeds even allows users to select multiple artists, songs and genres in the station creation process -- an appealing feature that in theory should allow for stations better personalized to each user. 
 
Sonic Seeds further emulates Pandora with the familiar thumbs-up and -down song ratings. The service offers unique features too, like a Music Universe chart showing how songs relate to each other...maybe. Honestly, most of Sonic Seeds is rather confusing.
 
However, despite claiming that it can "generate better targeted channels" than Pandora, Sonic Seeds doesn't create good radio stations (as CNet also found, here).
 
For example, a station spawned with The Shins (a popular indie rock group) resulted in music from Limp Bizkit, Puddle of Mudd, 70s easy rock and a track from a "doo wop sensations" compilation. After 10 songs, we didn't hear The Shins once -- or anything remotely similar to them.
 
The flexibility of being able to create a station using any combination of artists, songs and genres is appealing, but not if the resulting stations are unlistenable.
 
As CNet concludes: "this thing's not as close to ready for the public as the press release lets on...at the moment I don't see a compelling competitor here to existing music recommendation or subscription services." -- MS

Though rough around the edges, Deli Radio an excellent tool to discover new local music

Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Deli Radio is aDeli Radio's website and player new Internet radio service with an emphasis on local live music and indepedent artists. Founded by Wayne Skeen, also CEO of the California-based record label Ninth Street Opus, Deli Radio allows users to build instant radio-like playlists filled with music from independent artists playing a show near a specificed location.

Users can also listen to music from bands that call a certian location home, and can filter their station by proximity, date, venue, genre or a specific artist.

As SFWeekly points out (here), the site is rough around the edges. As it's up to artists to upload their own music, some selections are quite sparse (for example, trying to create a Chicago station turned up only one artist).

That said, the site is easy to use and it's a great tool to discover artists you've probably never heard of before. The emphasis on live music -- with prominent information about where the currently-playing artist is appearing next -- sets Deli Radio apart.

All in all, an interesting Internet radio site with potential. -- MS

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