Pandora is one of the best and most-used Internet radios out there, and does its thing really well. For me, it’s a really useful study tool- type in Hans Zimmer, rock out to some movie soundtracks. Somehow, listening to the Last of the Mohicans while I read makes everything more intense. But I digress.
Internet radio like Pandora works exactly as does in-car radio, except that you decide where you start. You pick a song, or an album, that you like, and Pandora tries to figure out what other songs you might like. It creates a playlist of music similar to the one you chose, and plays them all for you. You choose whether you like them or not, create more stations, and help Pandora figure out how to make your music better.
Pandora’s good, but it’s not the king of the castle anymore. When Grooveshark, previously a downloading service, launched Autoplay, it totally outstripped Pandora. Here’s why:
1. It does everything Pandora does.
This is worth noting- there’s nothing important that Pandora does that Grooveshark doesn’t do. You pick a song or an artist, and Grooveshark plays songs similar to the one you chose. Choices were relatively similar between the two, and even had similar interfaces for many things. You choose whether you like or dislike the song with a thumbs up or down. You move through a cover flow-like interface, and you can bookmark or favorite songs. The basic tenet of the two are essentially the same, so the little things are really where the comparisons lie.
2. It’s the radio, or a jukebox.
Grooveshark was initially an app that would let you create playlists song-by-song. Search for a song, and then add it to a playlist, which you can save, or the queue, which you can’t save. It creates an ad-hoc listening session, which is great in and of itself. Then, with Autoplay, Grooveshark added the radio feature, where it decides for you what songs to play next. You pick a song or artist, and Grooveshark plays songs it thinks you’ll like. Both of those services work well, and make for a great experience using the Internet radio, regardless of which way you choose to do it.
3. You can skip all the songs you like.
If you don’t like a song, skip it. If you don’t like 13 in a row, skip all 13. Pandora imposes limits on the songs you can skip every hour, but Grooveshark has no such thing. Skip to your heart’s delight. Plus, if you like a song, play it as much as you’d like. With Pandora, when a song ends, it ends. With Grooveshark, though, you can play a song as many times as you want- if you’re into a particular song, play it over and over.
4. It starts with the song you wanted.
On Pandora, if I search for “Home” by Michael Buble, the first song I get isn’t that one. It’s a similar one, which is fine, but not what I was looking for. If I want to hear “Home,” the way to do it is go to Grooveshark. It begins with the song, artist or album you chose, and then goes from there. It’s something I never paid attention to on Pandora, but is a big plus for Grooveshark.
5. You can play whole albums or artists.
If you want to listen to an entire album of your main man Jimmy Buffett, or listen only to Hanson for hours on end, Pandora doesn’t give you a way to do that. Grooveshark does. Search for an artist, select them, and then on the right side click the play button. It will add up to 200 songs by that artist, or the entire album, to your playlist. Great for trying before you buy with albums, or just if you’re in the mood for a particular artist.
6. You can listen to popular music.
On the front page of Grooveshark, there’s a link to “Popular.” It shows you the most popular music out there, mirroring the Billboard charts beautifully. Listen to the popular music, and it becomes essentially a Top-40 radio station. Want to hear about how Katy Perry kissed a girl, and wondering how she felt about it? Check it out here, and then click “popular”.
7. It works better.
Grooveshark’s interface just looks better. The whole user experience is easier, mirroring more closely a desktop player like Windows Media Player. View lists of songs, related songs, and all the options for your search results on one page. You can also listen to music and search for more at the same time, which is a huge plus. Pandora tends to limit you to single-tasking, while Grooveshark does a better job of letting you stay a musical step ahead of yourself.
8. It’s faster.
Grooveshark’s search is faster, the songs load faster, the whole site works more easily. Pandora frequently gives me long loads between songs, and Grooveshark almost never does. Waiting between songs is a pain, and Grooveshark doesn’t make me do it. That’s a big deal.
Though I’m a big Pandora fan, and don’t have a lot of bad things to say about it, but Grooveshark outdoes it in enough ways that it’s taken over. In an already crowded market, Grooveshark just about booted the rest of them out.