Yep, I know - there are lots of those lately... Pandora, Last.fm, Grooveshark, Jango, Deezer, Serendip - there are so many more. Some of them free, some of them not.
Those online music services suggest you music to listen to and some of the algorithms that are responsible for that are very interesting. While Pandora, Jango and Grooveshark are based on the resemblance of the music parameters, Last.fm and Serendip based on the social networking approach.
To my opinion, while some of these site provide pretty good playlists for you to listen, they are not focusing enough on the mood of the listener and rely on the assumption that if you listen to a certain music style, you probably would like to listen to songs in the same style over and over again. This assumption is right for, let's say, 85% of the time - "I'm in a mood for some Jazz', you'll say for yourself, "I'll use Jango and ask it to play some good old Brazilian Jazz".
Stan Getz, Bossa nova anyone?
But what about the other 15% of the time when you are interested, for example, to listen to music when you are drinking you morning coffee? You don't care if this is Stan Getz, the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Bob Marley as long as it is in the right mood to fit in the scene of you drinking your morning coffee, right?
The best job, up until I discovered 8tracks, was done by Serendip. Serendip is pretty new in the scene of the online music radio websites. The idea of it is so simple, yet very smart. It connects to your Facebook and Twitter friends and plays the music that your friends shared on their walls. The trick is that this is done almost in real time and therefore the stream consists of tracks that create "the music of now". The music that your friends shared in the morning might fit your morning as well right? The music that you want to hear on a cold winter day, might as well be shared by a friend in the same mood, isn't it?
Nevertheless, what I found so special about 8tracks is that they don't fight for the spot of who has the best algorithm to match the music for your personal taste. It is based on the idea of a simple radio show - meaning that the users themselves create the playlists. The websites provides a very nice and easy to use interface to create a playlist, name it, say a few words about it, and the most important - tag it.
The tag cloud of 8tracks is a vast list of moods, music styles, state of minds and more: "sleep", "love", "workout", "cozy", "party", "rock"... there are so many. One might create a playlist that has a nice acoustic tunes that can fit a gloomy Saturday morning nap, the other can create a playlist that is the best for jogging. This is so simple, yet genius.
Although we are living in the era of technology. Sometimes algorithms, formulas and calculations simply cannot provide what I think is best described by the term "a human touch". Until we would be able to describe a machine what is "a gloomy Saturday morning nap mood" the algorithms based websites will stay on that 85%.
Try 8tracks.com guys.