Many quality traditional radio stations broadcast their music online. These streaming radio stations are the perfect alternative for listeners who want to break away from the “recommendation engine” technology used by services such as Spotify and Pandora. This friendly, detailed article outlines how music lovers can use traditional radio to discover new and interesting music online, and the advantages of listening to traditional radio online.
Streaming music sources such as Pandora, Spotify and Youtube are fantastic for those who already know exactly what they want to listen to. They’re also great for music lovers who want music recommendations based on what they already like and listen to.
What’s wrong with that?
Sometimes it can be good to mix it up a bit. Radio exposes listeners to music that they wouldn’t have discovered otherwise, especially when there are specialty niche radio shows and interested, highly engaged listener communities.
Music aggregation services such as Pandora work by using a series of rules — a rubric — to recommend similar music to the listener. Instead of asking “old friends” for music recommendations, internet radio stations are the equivalent of going further afield, like walking down the street and listening to what is coming out of everybody’s car radio. It can be refreshing and rewarding to spend some time listening to good old-fashioned radio, and listeners save money at the same time as they tune in to an expertly curated music show that is designed for their enjoyment and betterment.
By simply tuning in to an internet radio stream, the listener joins a diverse community of listeners from all over the world. It is a much more collaborative and unpredictable alternative to internet streaming radio services such as Spotify or Pandora. To see a list of Spotify alternatives, read below. Here is a list of five radio stations that could appeal to anybody who feels like they need a break from their own music library.
The BBC has several streaming radio stations. One of the most “streamable” is BBC Radio 1, which is geared toward British top 40 music during the day, but which is more electronic and hip-hop-centric during the evening and overnight. Likewise, BBC Radio 2 (the BBC’s most popular radio station) plays more adult-oriented pop music during the day, with a slightly indie vibe, but it also has some fantastic nice music radio shows, including fantastic jazz and folk music programming. Anybody who wishes to discover new music for free is almost guaranteed to find something that they enjoy in the BBC system. There is a truly worldwide community of listeners, and the sense of joy that comes from listening to truly traditional radio. The current affairs and classical music programming are also without peer. Interested listeners can tune straight in from their web browser, making this a low-tech and free alternative to Pandora.
KEXP is a public radio station broadcasting out of Seattle, Washington. It plays a fantastic mix of alternative rock, indie music, and in-studio artist interviews. It also has a fantastic and spectacular array of specialty music shows, such as an American Blues and Roots show, and specialty punk and hardcore programming. This music station is geared toward music lovers, and thus is perfectly suited to those looking for a viable alternative to Pandora or Grooveshark, something with an extra human element. For those who love to focus on the eclectic, the obscure, or the forgotten, KEXP’s night time programming is especially suited.
Triple J is Australia’s youth music station. Designed to be a viable alternative to over-commercial radio stations, it now has a vibrant listener community and has positioned itself well as an alternative to Spotify or iTunes radio, with just the right amount of talkback and community-generated content, and a very engaging emphasis on new music, especially new Australian and independent music. There is excellent punk, metal and hardcore programming, and a yearly music poll that the station claims is the world’s greatest “musical democracy.”
One of NPR’s most interesting online radio features is “First Listen,” a way for listeners to listen to new, unreleased albums, complete and uncut. It is an excellent way to stay informed about new music, and stay abreast of emerging trends. The NPR website has an array of radio streams, ranging from Northern Soul to the music of the Pacific Northwest. For those seeking an expertly curated journey through the entirety of modern American music, NPR is perfect. It is not just an alternative to Spotify, it is a ecosystem unto itself.
Live365 is this list’s “wild card”. The website features thousands of online radio stations, searchable by location, genre, name, or band. What makes sets this website apart from things like Pandora or Spotify? Simply put, it is the human element. The music on these stations is chosen by humans, not a recommendation engine. Although listeners must subscribe to Live365 to get ad-free listening, the website itself is a brilliant way for listeners to discover new radio stations or new music.