samedi, mai 06, 2006


CNET editors' review


Reviewed by: Tim Gideon
Edited by: Jasmine France

Review date: 5/3/06

From London comes, a sort of cross between Pandora and Friendster. The short of it: Users create profiles and, as with Pandora, listen to radio stations customized to their tastes. The ghost in the machine then attempts to suggest new music to listeners who are game, as well as introduce users to other members and groups with similar tastes. It's an interesting concept, and like Pandora, it's free, which leaves little room for complaints. It's possible, though, that has bitten off more than it can chew by attempting to make the site a social network as well; only time will tell whether Friendsters and MySpacers have room in their hearts (and workdays) for yet another social networking site. The good news is that the social aspect is but one tiny facet of an otherwise extremely successful music service.

The home page is simply laid out, with a field to enter an artist or a band name in the center.

While is far more involved than Pandora, it is also far more popular. It's not the customized radio stations that make it better or worse--both sites produce pretty similar results--it's the ease of use and availability of options. For instance,'s player uses its own free software (which you must download), so if your browser crashes, your device still plays, as long as there's still an Internet connection. However, this also means you must download the software wherever you want to listen to, whereas you can access Pandora simply by opening a Web page on any Internet-connected computer.

If you choose to listen to an artist's or a fan's radio, this is what the player looks like.

Of course, offers a bit more in the extras department. There are artist-profile pages; lists of artists similar to an artist you like, based on the tastes of other users; and the excellent ability to tag a song. Tagging is just what it sounds like--if you label a song 80's new wave or Saturday Night, you can search your music picks by the tags you created (you can also give a song more than one tag). Users can also search other people's tags--and ogle other user profiles, if one so desires.

Once you enter an artist's name, you will be taken to their specific page, which lists similar artists and offers the ability to listen to their "similar artists radio" station.

Basic operation of is a piece of cake. Want to listen to artists similar to Deerhoof? Simply enter deerhoof in the large, blank field in the center of the home page, and immediately you will be taken to a page that offers Deerhoof radio, Deerhoof Fan radio (a radio option that lets you listen to fan picks), and all sorts of other options involving the band. The selections on Deerhoof radio were pretty dead-on, ranging from angular noise rock--which Deerhoof certainly meshes with--to jangly indie rock, which also works with the Deerhoof aesthetic. Occasionally, an unreleased song from a new artist may pop up because labels have paid for this privilege, and as points out in its extensive FAQ section, you can always skip the track if you wish, but this may be a band you'll be seeing in a few months, so it could be worth your time. Also found in the FAQ section is the adamant declaration that the software users must download to play with is not spyware. Still, it's worth noting that shares information about your listening habits with record labels. While we don't particularly like being monitored, this strikes us as a nonissue: It's not like the company has your credit card number, social-security information, or even your real name.

The software in question is actually the Audioscrobbler plug-in, and it's required in order for to make music recommendations. It's also integral to the overall operation of the service and the community aspect. The plug-in is installed within your media player(s) of choice and keeps track of the music you play. This data is posted to your profile page, which other users can look at and comment on, and it's used by to make music recommendations to you.

The community aspect of isn't entirely flushed out, since the user base is still relatively small, but the ability to view other members' most-played song lists and comment on their music tastes is a nice touch. The music service is a big hit, and the success of the networking portion of the Web site will largely be decided by users themselves. Regardless of whether you care to meet a Nirvana fanatic who hails from Brussels, we can certainly attest to the high quality of's radio services. What are you waiting for? It's free!