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Our Blog for Tips, Tricks, and News: Politics + Technology

The End of Radio?

Last month, we pointed P&T readers to a discussion about blogs and the news media - with some folks suggesting that blogs might just be the end of traditional media. We're skeptics, but this month we'll point you to a new technology that might just be the end of traditional broadcast music radio.

It starts with a site called AudioScrobbler.com. Basically, you download their free plug-in, and then play your music normally. It tracks the songs you play and builds a profile for you. Once you've got 300 songs in the system (I just let my player go overnight), it can recommend new music for you. It does that by comparing your songs to other people's profiles, and then recommending other stuff in their music library.

Oh, but it's even better than that. They've got a partner site, Last.fm, that will then play those recommended songs for you on your own personal radio station. (It's even legal, as they pay royalties to the UK version of ASCAP.)

I've spent the day listening to rare tracks from Pearl Jam live albums, punk covers of ABBA songs, and classic rock songs that I've always loved and never knew the names of (can you tell what's in my profile?) You can even tell it to "BAN" or "LOVE" songs that it plays for you, fine-tuning your profile even further.

Of course, it keeps re-sharing music across profiles, so as your "neighbors" discover new stuff, it'll spread to you too. In other words, a system that knows what I like and helps discover cool new songs that it thinks I might also like - in a democratic, friend-to-friend way.

Now, if I can just get it to broadcast to my car, we might have the end of FM radio as we know it.

(Oh, and here's the story in Wired: Internet Radio, Without Drudgery.)