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internet radio

Whether I’m working or relaxing, tuning in or tuning out, music is a constant in my daily routine. As is typical of a library-based listener, my soundtrack is a mix of old favourites and newer additions, but usually, nothing absolutely fresh flows through my speakers or earphones. Once in a while, though, I break this mould.

There are several routes which new music takes on its way to my eardrums. I listen to local commercial radio, for example. Radio stations will always provide a wider scope of tracks than my iTunes library, but the variety of broadcast playlists can be a little too random — which is why I’ve also long used Last.fm. As a taste-based recommendation engine, it is as close to human as an automated platform can currently be. However, this intelligence can actually hinder the finding of newness. Presenting me with clones of the music I already like isn’t going to improve the breadth of my listening experience.

A new app named MPme Radio wants to find a happy medium between these polar opposites, marrying the unexpectedness of radio with the predictability of an intelligent recommendation engine. Given that this app relies on the content provided by third-party broadcasters, though, is a middle-ground nirvana really possible?

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We inhabit a digital world that is instant, on-demand, and unlimited. It seems strange, then, that a broadcaster-controlled form of media, once the only form of broadcasting available, should still be popular. I’m talking about radio, a method of transmission no longer restricted to airwaves, thanks to broadband and the ease of streaming it provides.

Whatever the reasoning, a large number of us still listen to radio, and we have a massive selection of stations to choose from, including many from across the globe. This is great, but there is one respect in which traditional radio still trumps its modern-day counterpart — convenience. The reality is that it’s easier to switch on a radio and flick through the auto-tuned channels than it is to navigate many internet radio apps.

Maybe RadiON can provide an exception to this rule. Though it packs just as many stations as other apps in this genre — “over 50,000″ is the claim — RadiON has a vintage-inspired style, as well as various alarm clocks and music collection features, all delivered for the modest price of $0.99. Is this enough to provide internet radio with analogue radio’s advantages, though?

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If there’s one thing I love as much as listening to music, it’s discovering new music — I’m always on the lookout for new scenes, sub-genres, and artists to feed my craving for novel sounds. Unfortunately, that habit isn’t very easy to keep up where I live — Spotify, Pandora, Rdio and Google Play Music aren’t yet available in India, which means that I can’t check out recommendations, playlists and new tracks from popular content providers.

That’s why I was glad to have stumbled upon Earbits Radio, a new internet radio app that brings you tons of indie and mainstream artists no matter where you’re located. The app has scores of channels with something for everyone, and even learns your taste in music from locally stored tracks on your device. But is it enough to help you get your melody fix? Let’s tune in and find out.

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Live365 is an interesting app that aims to bring you music and talk radio shared by “real people, powered by passion.” It sounds like one of these new social music services, but it’s a bit more professional than that. In order to broadcast a station on Live365, you have to pay. This takes the service a step above random people playing whatever they want, and brings a more professional selection of stations to listen to.

From the app description:

“Serious satellites and blah-FMs won’t play this music. Robot DJ’s pandering to the money can’t play this music. At Live365, thousands of DJs with something to say or something to play bring it 365 a year.”

Let’s take a look at how it holds up as an app… (more…)

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