Although I have said Pandora and Lala are the coolest must-have music applications, I have been growing increasingly frustrated with Pandora. The problem I’m finding is even if I don’t give a ‘thumbs up’ on a song (which I found is song suicide as you can guarantee it will play that song EVERY time you play the station) it still plays the same songs ALL THE TIME. On occasion it will introduce something obscure -for better or for worse- but I can usually count on hearing the same things I heard the day before. So I began thinking -yelling in fact -why isn’t there some control over whether I want obscure stuff versus the hits, and why isn’t there some degree setting over how often it plays the same stuff? Yell no longer -hello Slacker.com.
You see, I love Led Zeppelin and I have them in my station collection. But if I hear ‘Kashmir’ one more time I’m going to puke. If I want to hear Kashmir I can turn on any classic rock station and there it will be. I want to hear the obscure stuff. And when they deduce that I must like Pink Floyd because I like Led Zeppelin, DUDE, I DO NOT want to hear ‘Money’ or ‘Time’. They are classic culture altering songs indeed, but when I listen to my supposedly customizable radio I want stuff from left field. Still in the same ball park, but from the left field of that ball park.
So here is where Slacker.com puts the beat down on Pandora-
Oh thank you, thank you, thank you. This is HUGE. Slacker has settings for artist discovery, song popularity, favorites and year. I love to get the obscure stuff so I have song popularity set to ‘fringe’. There is also a setting for ‘deeper’ but I’m not sure of the difference. But, I don’t care -either way I getting the outside stuff which is awesome. I love to be surprised. I can’t believe the stuff they come up with. Obviously they come up with some real crap (Saxon? Come on…) but it’s worth it because I can ban that song or the artist from the station. On Pandora I can only ban the song but not the artist. And I swear it ignores me anyway.
I love the fact that if I mark a song as favorite there is a setting which dictates how often my favorites are played. Like I said about Pandora -mark a song a favorite and prepare to hear that song every single time.
Still, I have not fully abandoned Pandora. Here’s why-
The classical selection is still better than Slacker
When I’m home and chilling, I like to listen to mainly classical music, but I am very selective about what I listen to. With Pandora, there seems to be a larger database for the more obscure classical stuff I like. With Slacker, even if I put my Bach station on ‘hits’ I still get very un-baroque-like music. And if it ain’t Baroque, don’t fix it. Yuk.
The commercials on Slacker are LAME
Yeah, I know, I can buckle down and pay the fee for commercial free playing but hey, it’s a 2.0 world, who wants to pay? With Pandora the commercials are short, infrequent and most importantly, QUIET. Slacker defies the Seth Godin principle of permission oriented advertising and they SHOUT a commercial in your face like radio or TV. Very old school and very uncool. So if I’m listening to a classical station the last thing I want is my Gregorian vibe shattered with, “THANK YOU FOR LISTENING TO SLACKER!!! IS YOUR TOILET BOWL NASTY AS HELL!?!?!?!?” Um, yes it is, but can we talk about it later?
When I’m listening to my Slacker Zep/Radiohead/Spoon type station while I’m running or cleaning the backyard an obnoxious commercial is bearable. It just makes me want to run/clean/work just a little harder. But morning coffee and Vivaldi? Shut up please.
But when in comes to rocking my proverbial house with obscurity, variety and customization -Slacker.com is picking up the slack that Pandora is leaving behind.
And it works on my iphone too.