I’m a huge consumer of internet radio (20+ hours per week). At work, there’s nothing like drowning out the annoying voice from an adjacent cube. The best sites embrace three things: full-songs (no 30-second previews), wisdom of the crowds, and an intricate tagging system.
1. imeem.com - Imeem is the best internet music site because of its playlist functionality. Suppose you’re looking for a list of every song featuring Justin Timberlake or country music from 1992. Fortunately, users on imeem have spent hours doing the grunt work of compiling songs into a playlist and sharing their work with the community. Additionally, a tagging component is layered over the listening experience, allowing you to easily discover related playlists from other users. This functionality epitomizes the Long Tail, using intuitive filters that make sifting through millions of songs a pleasure.
2. Pandora.com – Pandora is a music discovery tool. The problem is that its algorithm is based song attributes, rather than human taste. If I like a particular artist, a person who shares similar interests will provide far better song recommendations than a computer.
3. Grooveshark.com – Grooveshark’s site design is intuitive and visually stunning. If you are looking for a site that allows you listen to a specific artist or album, Grooveshark provides a great experience. Music discovery is non-existent.
4. mixwit.com – mixwit.com has similar functionality to imeem.com, but one must listen to playlists in a fixed order, creating a poor user experience.
5. lala.com – lala allows users to “purchase” web songs from its library for 10 cents. This is great if you are looking for obscure music.
Muxtape.com (sued and shut down by the RIAA) – Muxtape, before it was closed by RIAA, had a very unique model for internet radio. Users could create individual playlists of 12 songs; each playlist tended to be a user’s top 12 favorite songs. If you found a playlist with a song you liked, the remaining 11 songs usually matched your interests–great for discovering new music.