Saturday, January 28, 2006

I'm sorry, cool people. I tried.

I really did.

I tried two internet radio station thingies. The first, recommended by Badger, and a second, recommended by Chatty B. Tawkin.

These are the kind of stations where you type in the name of a group you like, and using artificial intelligence software, they match your preference with other people's preferences, and start playing things that are sorta kinda like the stuff you like.

They were both abysmal failures. I tried typing in XTC, since I like their extraordinary lyrics, interesting harmonies and arrangements, and super clean studio sonorities. When that yielded not a single group I liked as much as XTC, I tried Todd Rundgren. But Todd is such a stylistic mishmash that the stuff coming down the pipe sounded random, and not in a good way. So then I tried NRBQ, my favorite group that you've probably never heard of. Their music is sort of laid back in a bar-band way, tuneful, catchy ... but still no dice. I pretty much hated all of their recommendations.

So then I tried telling the stations that I liked Frank Sinatra. But that meant that they thought I'd like Dean Martin, and I don't. Then I tried Rudy Vallee, figuring that I pretty much like all music from the 1920s and 1930s, at least a little bit. But that ended up being annoying, too.

I think the problem is that I mostly don't like 90 percent of the available music in the world. And the stuff I like eludes classification.

So I headed over to Live365. This appears to be internet radio for picky bastids. It doesn't use AI. Instead, you search for stations run by geeks who like the kind of music you like. You can type in "Purcell" or "Duke Ellington" or "Hootie and the Blowfish" (if you must) and up will pop a list of stations that play those artists.

I ended up buying an annual subscription.

Right now my playlist contains the following stations:

Canuckteach Hot Jazz, currently playing Mildred Bailey singing "I thought About You" with the Benny Goodman Orchestra

Early, currently playing See where she sits (William Turner) by The Consort of Musicke, dir. Anthony Rooley

Radio Dismuke, which is currently playing "Hi-Diddle-Diddle" by George Olsen and His Music

StarlightTeahouseAudio, currently playing "I Only Have Eyes for You" by Eddie Duchin
and for listening when I'm playing board games with my children:

PIRN (Pokemon Internet Radio Network) which is currently playing "Splendid Collection (Karaoke)" by Sachiko Kobayashi
So if you're a picky bastid like me, you might want to check it out. There's one drawback, though. Unlike regular radio, you know exactly what song is playing as it plays. There's a way of clicking through so you can either download the song or purchase the CD from Amazon. And I've already purchased a Bob Crosby CD and a collection of pieces by Spanish composers of early music. And I'm afraid this is only the beginning.


  1. Live365 was my huzzbin's gateway drug. He keeps trying to get me hooked, but I've resisted. So now he's trying to get me hooked on podcasts instead.

    Pandora works WAY better if you enter a song title instead of an artist. It doesn't match based on what other people like; it analyzes the music based on about a gajillion different components and then barfs up stuff that has the same components. Or so it thinks.

  2. Oh, really. Now you tell me.

    Well, that's $47 I won't be able to spend lemminging every single thing you recommend on Lipstick is My Crack.

    And that will just show you.

  3. Pandora didn't work out so well for me. It's never heard of Agent Orange or any of their songs and entering the songs AO covered only netted the original artists. If you have a serious punky vein running through your musical tastes, Pandora doesn't really hit the spot.

    It was OK with ska, though.

    Oh, and *I* was the one to suggest Radio Dismuke to you.


  4. No you weren't. You heard about it from, and may have mentioned it to me, but the Wodehouse list-server group has been listening to it for ages.

    I've been listening to it for over a year. I'm just paying for it now.

    So there.

  5. Which PGW list-server group?

    -J., awfully behind

  6. That is the big problem with Internet radio .... it's like saying that just because we both like eating spaghetti carbonara we'll both like cream cheese and strawberry jam sandwiches! Which I love by the way .... have you tried them?

    I am going to check out Live365 as I am picky ... do they got XTC ~ because I love them!

    By the way Michele says "Hello!"

  7. Michele sent me to see you, Poppy.

    I've never used Pandora but despite your bad experience I'm curious about it and will try it later today. Thanks for the idea. I hope that you don't spend too much money now that you're hearing a lot of new music but music is so damn addictive---sometimes you just gotta spend that money to have it.

  8. I'm so picky that I won't pay for any radio. Basically because if I want to hear certain bands, they are likely on my computer already, so why pay for it?

    Here via Michele's :)

  9. I've become wedded to my XM satellite radio for many of the reasons you note. You can also get an online only subscription of you don't want the actual radio.

  10. I never like any music someone else tries to pick for me. It's too personal a thing; I pick music because it speaks to me. What the hell does my computer know about that?

    Hi - Michele sent me!

  11. I liked Pandora after a while. Badger's suggestion is a good one that I didn't know about. I found that the more artists I put in to my "like" file, the better the songs got. Also, I hit "don't play any more like this song" every time I got a bad one. So pretty soon, it truly was only playing good music. Interesting.

    The other stuff? The satellite stuff? The podcasts? The internet radio? They're beyond my technological security clearance at this point in time.

  12. I know NRBQ.

    I just got an XM radio, so I'm not even going to look at that Live365 thing. I'd wind up signing up and then I'll just have way too many choices and my head will explode. Brains are a bitch to get out of the carpet.

  13. Julia,

    That is the funniest line I've heard for ages. I hope it isn't copyrighted, because I'm planning on stealing it.

    N.B. to Badger and Joke: I saw it first!

    Also, I'm not really amazed that you know NRBQ. Many years ago I worked in a bar in Northampton that used to play their stuff all the time, to the point where I was amazed to discover that they weren't a local band, but from New York. But I guess they have a big fan base Westa Woosta.

  14. Hi Poppy
    Your comment was above mine at Michele's site!
    So here I am

  15. I've seen NRBQ!

    Uh, if that counts for anything.

  16. I was directed to come and visit by Wendy

  17. I have yet to get sucked in to any of those. I have quite enough music I have to buy at the moment. Most of the people I listen to no one else has heard of. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    here from Michele's.

  18. I'm here from Michele this A.M. and I had a similar experience with the first one you mentioned...It knew NOTHING about any of the people I put in...So....I just figured, forget it!!!

    That other one sounds like it could end up costing me a lot of money! (lol)

  19. FWIW, NRBQ does not suck.



Gentle Readers:

For the time being, I've turned off comment moderation. Please don't spam; it's not nice.

xxx, Poppy.