The College Connoisseur: Talks about online music

Brandon Van Meter

Brandon Van Meter

You still illegally download music off of the Internet and you know it.

It’s been just shy of a decade since Napster started its rise to prominence. Back in June 1999, Shawn Fanning coded an online revolution, most likely fueled by Cool Ranch Doritos and Mountain Dew.

Within two years, however, the granddaddy of music piracy was sued out of existence. While a hollow shell of itself is still on the Internet, services and clients like LimeWire and BitTorrent have filled its space.

Now-a-days, it still seems second nature to download music from the Internet. Of course, while convenient, some of these methods are infinitely illegal. There are two Web sites that sate the need for more music while abiding by the law.


This service is based on the Music Genome Project, a collection of the greatest music nerds in the world. While regular scientists have invented robots and cured diseases, these guys have toiled over hundreds of genes – or characteristics – in music. This massive database connects most commercially available music, while making the Human Genome Project look like an idiot.

Pandora ( gives a face to the gaggle of information. Basically, anyone can visit their Web site, punch in an artist and/or song and listen to a radio station of similar music. Users can also “rate” music to their personal taste, and Pandora will tailor itself to your needs.

Everything about Pandora is straightforward and easy enough for even the least tech-initiated folks. Although it makes accessing similar music easy, you can only skip six songs an hour. You cannot access specific songs through this service. Besides these caveats, Pandora offers a no-nonsense approach to finding music.

While Pandora boasts simplicity in pilfering through music collections, ( is a venerable hurricane of ideas. In an average day, I can get recommendations on the hottest Swedish metal bands while listening to a playlist of 1970s’ funk. has the same radio functionality as Pandora, as well as numerous other tools and services based around user’s musical habits. Instead of logging onto a site and listening to your music, tracks your musical tastes.

For example, my profile page (, has charts defining both my favorite tracks from this week and all time. The site goes one step further and offers radio stations based on individuals’ played tracks.

Every song and artist has its own page, and – depending on licensing issues – are available for streaming right on the Web site. Some tracks are even available in their full length.

The feature list for is extensive, but some music lovers can feel overwhelmed. Especially if you’re looking for a more holistic experience, is the choice for music chatterboxes.

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