Pandora uses the Music Genome Project--a massive web of data about songs and artists--to let you create custom radio stations based on what your favorite music actually sounds like, not just metadata. That means recommendations are based on the work of humans and not just algorithms, making for some surprising and enjoyable recommendations. Getting the free tunes fast couldn't be easier. At the homepage, just type in your favorite artist or song, and Pandora asks if you want that artist included in your mix and proceeds to create your station. The sound quality is good, but it still sounds like Internet radio. The Web interface lets you create up to 100 stations, find other users with similar tastes, and rate songs. Plenty of editorial content helps you learn about what you're hearing as well. Pandora also has partnerships with Logitech, Sonos, and Sprint (for $2.99 a month), so you can take the music around your home or on your phone. The ad-supported service is free, or you can purchase an annual subscription for $36 to skip the ads (www.pandora.com).
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