One website that I swear by that is responsible for a good percentage of my music collection is Pandora.com. Pandora.com is a pureplay website that acts as an online radio station, however it is very different in an important way. With Pandora, the user types in a favorite music artist or song, and creates a "station" consisting of songs similar to and based around aspects of the user's entry. Pandora utilizes the technology known as the Music Genome Project, which is explained by Pandora as:
"the most sophisticated taxonomy of musical information ever collected. It represents over eight years of analysis by our trained team of musicologists, and spans everything from this past Tuesday's new releases all the way back to the Renaissance and Classical music.
Each song in the Music Genome Project is analyzed using up to 400 distinct musical characteristics by a trained music analyst. These attributes capture not only the musical identity of a song, but also the many significant qualities that are relevant to understanding the musical preferences of listeners. The typical music analyst working on the Music Genome Project has a four-year degree in music theory, composition or performance, has passed through a selective screening process and has completed intensive training in the Music Genome's rigorous and precise methodology. To qualify for the work, analysts must have a firm grounding in music theory, including familiarity with a wide range of styles and sounds. All analysis is done on location."This technology is incredible in its accuracy and its ability to span the breadth of genres and artist repertiore. I am a big fan of obscure music and artists, and somehow no matter how "hole-in-the-wall" my entry is, they always find a way to find related work that I have never heard of.
Moreover, if there is a song that a user doesn't like, one can press the thumbs-down, "I don't like this" button and the playlist will move forward to the next song. Due to copyright and licensing laws, however, the user can only skip approximately three songs within an hour. But, one can get around this by creating another channel based on another favorite song or artist. And, one can create an unlimited amount of music channels. Amazing.
Also, if you like a song or an artist, they will save it on the playlist to be played repeatedly. There is also a menu under the song that is playing with a plethora of options: "don't play this song for a month," "why was this song selected?", "Move song to another location,"Bookmark the song/artist, and "Buy song from iTunes/Amazon CD/Amazon mp3."
As if that's not enough, since the last time I have visited the site (which has been no longer than three days), there are options to alter the channel, such as "add variety" by adding another favorite song/artist to further narrow down the song selection pool, "find other fans of this song/artist," or "share this station with a friend."
It is obvious that Pandora is at the forefront of online music technology and continue to maintain their reputation. I will remain to be a loyal and consistently intrigued customer.