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Internet radio

Created date

April 22nd, 2014
radio tower
radio tower

First there were just AM and FM.  Then there was satellite radio. Today, we have Internet radio, which is also called streaming radio.  

Streaming radio provides users with unlimited, free, and legal music.  Songs and even whole albums can be streamed through smartphones, computers, and tablets, revolutionizing the way people get their music.  A quick search on Google will return a myriad of listening options.


Some of these streaming services allow you to listen to any terrestrial radio station no matter your location.  iHeartRadio is an example of one of the most popular sites of this kind, becoming mainstream since its launch in 2008.  iHeartRadio compiles audio content from over 800 Clear Channel radio stations across the country as well as hundreds of other genre-based stations and various other media such as podcasts and talk shows.  


Other programs, like Pandora, use recommender services such as the trademarked “Music Genome Project” to generate playlists.  The “Music Genome Project” classifies songs into five categories or genres: pop/rock, hip-hop/electronica, jazz, world music, or classical. These are further broken down by musical attributes. 

After an initial artist or song selection by the user, Pandora will play other songs that sound similar based on these criteria.  Listeners can rate the songs with a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” ranking.  The idea is that Pandora will eventually learn about the listener’s taste and be able to provide a more pleasing radio experience. Unless you opt for a paid subscription, Pandora will serve you advertisements and limit the number of “thumbs down” rankings that you can give. 


Spotify is yet another streaming music service. Users can search and select from thousands of songs and play them on demand. Spotify also has a radio feature that uses recommender technology similar to Pandora’s. Since Spotify connects to users’ Facebook accounts, a social aspect is provided.  Members can see what their friends are listening to  and even send tracks to their friends. The Spotify mobile app is supported on all portable devices and can be downloaded onto your home computer.  Also like Pandora, Spotify offers paid account privileges such as mobile play on demand and ad-free listening. 


Streaming radio holds many advantages over traditional radio. It is an easy and fun way to discover new music. Internet radio is often a free service accompanied by advertisements.  Many companies also provide the option for ad-free listening or other extras with a paid subscription service.  The companies listed above only have license to stream music; however, there is usually an option to download songs through affiliated websites, such as iTunes or Amazon.  Portability is another plus. The days of lugging a library of CDs or listening to radio stations with poor reception are over. Internet radio makes the world’s music available at the push of a button.