Blog Post

Poll: Music to Work By – Last.fm vs. Pandora

I was checking out personalization service matchmine today and it made me think of Last.fm vs. Pandora for finding music to listen to while I work. Last.fm uses collaborative filtering — recommending music based on what people with similar taste in music like — while Pandora characterizes music on a number of attributes and then suggests music similar to songs and artists you say you like.

I prefer Pandora, because it consistently provides music that I enjoy. Last.fm never seemed to get my taste quite right. But many of my friends prefer Last.fm.

matchmine seems closer to Pandora in its approach, matching content such as music, movies, video, and blogs to people based on its inherent qualities rather than based on who liked it. matchmine’s service is only available in beta right now, but they’ll be rolling out integration with online services in the new year. You can read more about matchmine at GigaOM.

Where do you prefer to get your music recommendations? Collaboratively filtered (Last.fm), matched by musical DNA (Pandora), or some other way?

Take the poll, then tell us in the comments what kind of music you like to listen to while you work.

23 Responses to “Poll: Music to Work By – Last.fm vs. Pandora”

  1. @Vergel E: good point about getting music from independent artists.

    Reading these comments, I appreciate better the power of social rankings for finding new music.

    And I am definitely going to try Slacker (I knew what you meant Craig) though I didn’t get to it today.

  2. Last.fm for a huge win…! As an artist who produces music, I prefer the open architecture of Last.fm. I have my music on there and can listen to the music of other home studio producers as well.

    Pandora, Slacker and the majority of other sites do not allow for the majority of independent artists to add their own music to the service. Because of that I will always use and suggest Last.fm.

  3. I think it’s the difference between the Cathedral and the Bazaar.

    Pandora does an excellent job of recommending music based on the qualities of the song, but like the Cathedral it’s top down. If the music hasn’t been put in the system, it won’t get recommended.

    The mob mentality of Last.fm gives you the benefit of thousands of opinions, so it can uncover more music, but it’s not going to be as finely tuned as Pandora.

    I use both sites, but when I’m not looking for recommendations and know what I want to listen to, I use Finetune.

    In order of use, I use:
    1. Finetune
    2. Pandora
    3. Last.fm

  4. I *love* Pandora for use on my Squeezebox at home. But I have to admit that Slacker (someone mentioned it above) has a lot more choice built in as a desktop app. If I listened to music more from my PC I’d probably use Slacker.

  5. I see what people are talking about with Pandora’s limited music branching with my more pop-oriented stations (despite them actually being metal and punk).

    However, a few of my stations have really bloomed into something else entirely. For example, I started with quasi-electronic pop and ended up with Brazilian bossa nova and it keeps evolving into something else every few months. I think it’s starting to turn towards bluegrass lately and I’m finding more new music than I can afford to keep up with. Pandora does start off with a more similar group of artists, but the more you branch out, the more it follows you to suit.

  6. I have used both Pandora and Last.FM, but I have discovered more great music at RadioParadise.com. It’s commercial free, DJ’d by an intellegent human, and just plain cool.

  7. Good post Anne.
    I’d like to invite you and your readers to try iheard.
    iheard.com makes it easy for people to find their favorite internet radio stations by providing an easy to use search interface and directory with thousands of stations organized by genre, country and language.

    Give it a listen.
    Thanks,
    David

  8. Rolltimer

    I prefer to build my own playlists at Finetune [http://finetune.com/] using music I know and love but don’t necessarily already have on CD or in iTunes. Great for rediscovering almost forgotten hits from the past. Each playlist must contain a minimum of 40 songs before you can begin listening to it and you can have no more than 3 songs from one artist on each playlist. Other than these restrictions, I have no complaints.

  9. The last time I checked, Pandora closed it’s services to those of us coming in through an Australian IP address.
    Until this move, I really liked Pandora, but going through a proxy server in the States is not an option for streaming music.
    So, even though I want to use Pandora, I have no choice in the matter.

  10. Matt Platte

    BBC Radio – there are scads of “stations” there. And di.fm for those heads-down, don’t-bother-me programming sessions.

    Honestly, it continually amazes me why people choose vanilla ice-cream when there are at least 30 other flavors in the store.

  11. I’m not sure I know exactly what I want, but I know what I don’t want: Kevin Federline and Last.fm suggested that to me at one point. I think I didn’t scrobble enough, my bad.

    Anyway, I have been introduced to lots of music new to me by Pandora but I’ll admit I’m not the most adventurous consumer of music. So it could very well be true that Last.fm is for people who want really new sounds.

  12. pandora seems to be the site of choice for those who know exactly what they want and not terribly interested in going much further than that. it’s rec engine isn’t nearly as strong or broad as last.fm so you end up with very simliar sounding music.

    last.fm is usually preferred by those more willing to deviate and open to new sounds due to their stronger database. they are crowdsourcing, so pandora will never be able to keep up with the data that last.fm users are constantly submitting and updating.

    i like last.fm, duh