Pandora.com has been around for a while, and is wildly popular among music enthusiasts. Pandora is unlike any music streaming service in which it uses what it calls the Music Genome Project, to match songs you like with new music you will enjoy. It then plays a mix of songs you know and like with songs the program thinks you will like. Usually, you end up with a great mix of songs for whatever mood you are in. The best part of it is, if you don't mind listening to a few ads along the way, it's free.
How it Works
If you go to Pandora.com, you can begin using the service without even creating an account. Just type in a song or artist you like and it will create a custom radio station for you. If you do create an account, though, you will have many more options, including saving your custom stations. Once you have an account, you can create whatever stations you want, up to 100 stations, and keep track of them so you can come back to them later. At any time, you can also delete stations to make room for new ones. As you listen to music, you have the option to "thumbs up" songs you like so the program will know to choose more songs like that for you, or you can "thumbs down" songs you don't like to skip them and tell the program not to play more songs like them. To do this, just click the thumbs up or thumbs down button on the Pandora player. Because of music licenses, you can only skip six songs per hour. However, if you want to try a new station within the hour, you can. You cannot go back and listen to songs you liked again, until the program decides to play the song again for you.
Pandora on the Computer
Accessing Pandora on the computer is as easy as connecting to the internet and pointing your browser to Pandora.com. When you connect via the internet, you can get all sorts of information about the songs that will whet your musical appetite. Each time a song plays, you will be able to see the title of the song, the artist, and the album it's on. If you click on any of these things, you'll be taken to a page about it. For example, if you click on the artist's name, you'll be taken to a page with information about the artist. Also via the internet streaming program, you will find a link to a video for the song if there is one, as well as the lyrics to the song if they are available. You can also see which of your friends have also liked a particular artist or song if you have connected your account to Facebook.
Pandora on Devices
Pandora is also available on the go if you're not at your computer. There is a smartphone app that allows you to play your stations over your cellular network. This is especially great if you are listening at work or at the gym. If you have an account, you can also access the streaming radio on certain devices and internet-connected televisions in your home. To view a complete list of supported devices, visit the Pandora website.
Free or Paid Pandora
The free version of Pandora is great for the causal music listener. However, if the ads bother you or if you want to be able to stream music from devices in your home, you might want to invest in a paid account. Information on costs is available on the Pandora website.