Play On: Musical Chairs of Internet Radio and Apps

Technology for your music favorites

How many times have you purchased a favorite song?

I can hardly count the number of purchases I’ve made of “My Generation” by the Who. The first was the vinyl album Who’s Next in the 1970s. Then there was the CD version in the 1980s, the iTunes music download in the 00s and most recently we’ve become reacquainted via Pandora, Spotify and NPR Music.


“At Pandora, we have a single mission: To play only music you'll love,” reports their website. Personalized, mobile and free are their watchwords. Listen to your favorites and enlist the Music Genome Project to discover new music. Pandora scans its database and offers you songs with similarities to those you’ve liked.

How does Pandora personalize its recommendations? It “learns” what you like and don’t like by building on your thumbs up and thumbs down choices. If you aren’t sure why Pandora has suggested a particular song, tap “Why is the song playing?” for the answer. Discover a new song you’d like to own? Tap to buy it on iTunes.

Artist bios, email stations to your friends, album covers, song samples, and more await you in the Pandora app version 2.0 on iTunes.


“Instant, simple and free” are Spotify’s goals. Spotify also personalizes offerings with millions of songs that play live on your PC, Mac or mobile device.

Some of my favorite memories are of buying a favorite artist’s new album and racing home to listen to it over and over with friends. We would talk about the lyrics, the music and those conversations got pretty deep from time to time. Music has always been social and that’s where Spotify’s connection to Facebook shines. Your friends can see and hear what you listening to when you are logged into your Facebook account and use Spotify.

There are various levels of Spotify access. There is a basic, free version. There is also a Premium version that syncs all your Spotify playlists to your mobile device. The Spotify Mobile app works on both iPhone and Android. You can sync your own music files or buy Spotify playlists and download them.

NPR Music

“New music, music reviews, and music news” is NPR Music’s niche. Streaming live concerts and music news is how they do it. First Listen previews new albums from beginning to end. All Songs 24/7 Music Channel is “a non-stop mix of every song ever played during the 10 years of All Songs Considered.” It runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Music Interviews spans genres with blues, jazz, folk, rock and folk musicians. There are full sections of performances just for particular genres of classical, jazz and blues, and rock/pop/folk. Two especially useful features are the nationwide station finder and the hourly news summary.

As the lyric from “My Generation” reads, “we get around.” The options to keep your music with you wherever you are continue to increase. Internet radio, playlists for yourself, songs and playlists shared with friends on your social networks, and single favorite songs replayed as often as you want.

What songs make up the soundtrack of your life?

Sally Spangler February 22, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I prefer classical, light classical and cast recordings of past stage musicals. The rest? well, today's popular music is for the most part not at all my "cup of tea" - I will turn off the radio when today's popular music is being played along with the gyrations of the singers and band. But then again - <grin> some of its listeners could be my grandchildren in comparison of our ages.
Lydia Patrick February 23, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Like you, I enjoy classical music. My music tastes change during the day, however. My alarm wakes me to classical music on NPR and I stick with that through arrival at work. Lunch and the early afternoon swing to techno or mood music in the background. Blues music on the commute home. Dinner is the time for Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Full day!


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