Now Hear This: More On Internet Radio - InformationWeek

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IoT
IoT
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
4/16/2007
12:28 PM
David  DeJean
David DeJean
Commentary
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Now Hear This: More On Internet Radio

And the hits just keep on coming: My roundup of Internet radio sites that can help you discover new music and artists (Review: 6 Internet Radio Sites Help You Discover New Music) is just a toe-dip into the ocean of a very large subject. And I'm hearing from other toes. Richard S. Mitnick wrote to ask, "Nice article. But how did you miss Shoutcast?" and James Rome accurately pointed out that classical music lo

And the hits just keep on coming: My roundup of Internet radio sites that can help you discover new music and artists (Review: 6 Internet Radio Sites Help You Discover New Music) is just a toe-dip into the ocean of a very large subject. And I'm hearing from other toes. Richard S. Mitnick wrote to ask, "Nice article. But how did you miss Shoutcast?" and James Rome accurately pointed out that classical music lovers have a lot less to choose from than pop fans -- but he had some good suggestions.My original intent was to cover sites that combined streaming music with social-networking features for sharing information on music. Shoutcast doesn't do any of the latter, but it does a whole lot of the former -- it's home page offers 940 pages of Internet radio stations, 20 to a page, so that would be 18,800 possibilites. Shoutcast has a lot in common with Live365.com, which also serves as a portal to thousands of music streams online, and I should have mentioned them together.

Shoutcast may not be on the cutting edge of social music, but it has a long history. It was started by the same team that created the Winamp music player and sold it to AOL in 1999. It's founders departed in 2003 when the AOL Time Warner environment proved to be a little too corporate for their free-spirited creativity. The conventional wisdom had Shoutcast -- and Winamp -- on life support in late 2004, but they're both still here. You have to install Winamp on a Windows machine, and if you want to post playlists, look somewhere else. On the plus side, if you make that effort, you can wallow in a lot of music.

Less than 10% of the Shoutcast stations are classical music, and that's what drove James Rome to write me. As a classical fan, he believes Internet radio leaves him out: "In general, your review is only useful to people who listen to other than classical music. For example, Pandora is totally useless for classical music. Try putting in Mahler! I have tried Last.fm, and Live365.com, and find them also poor for classical music. In general, if they have music I like, the broadcast quality is too poor to listen to."

He offered his favorite solution to the problem: "Your review of Internet radio left out the best site of all -- www.radioio.com. They also have the best quality streams I have found." The classical subsite, radioClassical, "almost always plays something that is good, and that I have never heard," he wrote.

Rome might also tune in to www.finetune.com, an Internet radio site with some good social-networking features that I discovered when Rome's e-mail started me poking into classical streams. Finetune has a short but solid list of programmed stations, but it's digging into the lists of genres to other users' playlists that produces the discoveries (I liked "liam114's" playlist of Baroque favorites), and the nicely designed site makes it work, not just for classical music, but the more pop genres, as well.

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