Internet Radio And Me, Part 2

A while back, I was working via a client's VPN which cut off access to some portions of my own home network (lame, I know).  One side effect of this horrible state of affairs was that I could not listen to my own music library during the day.  I wrote about some of the options I tried back then, and eventually I found a way around it and that was the end of it....until now.  I just started a gig with a new client which has me working in their fancy offices in midtown Manhattan.  Said client is a bit...touchy about security, and so they are employing all manner of port, proxy, and app-blocking against my efforts to stream my music from home.  I've found a way around most of their defenses (again, not to do anything nefarious, just to listen to my music, which I suppose could be nefarious, depending on the song), but the only method available to me suffers from a pretty long lag, and an overall lack of easy control of what's playing.  I basically just have to set up a playlist then sit through it - skipping around is a slow and frustrating affair.

So once again, I find myself at the mercy of internet radio.  I checked in again on the big 3 - Pandora, Slacker, and Last.FM and wasn't much happier than I was last time.  Pandora now has ads (I don't have a premium account), ditto Slacker (that is, when the stream is working), and Last.FM is convinced that I am really into emo.

So where does that leave me?  WOXY is out of business, Lala just shut its doors and gave everyone an iTunes credit, and there's only so much daytime NPR programming I can handle.  I know there's a million internet radio stations out there, but which ones are any good?  Santa Monica's KCRW and Seattle's KEXP are both great options, if you don't mind the occasional pledge pitch.  And I've been enjoying hearing a ton of new music on the hyperlocal (for me) East Village Radio.  But so far this month, the big winner in the "help me find something great to listen to" sweepstakes is NPR Music.  Thanks to their "First Listen" series, in the past 2 weeks I've been able to stream (for free) new full-length releases from The National, Flying Lotus, The Black Keys, Sleigh Bells, Dead Weather, and LCD Soundsystem, to name just a few.  And thanks to their "Live In Concert" series, I got to catch up on recent shows from Freelance Whales, Shout Out Louds, Hot Chip, The xx, and Caribou, among others.  In a word, rock.

What do you listen to when you can't listen to your own music library?  Online radio stations?  Recommendation engines?  The sound of silence?  Tell me in the comments.


Lori said...

You can also try CBC3 radio: Canadian indie


Anonymous said...

groove shark and pandora are my 2 goto apps.

The best way around the security is the ol' smartphone though. I know sling player makes some smartphone apps - something like that maybe worth looking into.

John Das Binky said...

Not to take an end-around, but how about just shelling out $50-80 for a used iPod or something and changing up your playlist every few days.

I don't tend to listen while I work, but I find that whatever subset of my library I've loaded tends to be good enough for the moment.

Or, shell out the $30 or so bucks for a Pandora Premium account.

I know the engineer in you likes to find a perfect solution, but paying a few bucks for a "good enough" solution is one of the joys of adulthood. Plus it's less likely to get you terminated for violating the company's code of conduct.

Jordan Hirsch said...

@Lori, thanks for the tip. @Anonymous & @John, I have an MP3 player (and a Blackberry) that I could use, but during the course of an 8-hour workday, I find I get pretty tired of the 8 GB selection avaliable to me on my portable player. That's why I like streaming my library from home.

I don't think I violated anyone's security policy or code of conduct by simply reconfiguring my home setup to stream over a port that this company is not blocking. It's not like I hacked into their routers and opened up all the ports or anything, I just changed a couple settings at home and tried again.

Joe J said...

Why, listen to WFMU, of course. Their site also has a ubuweb stream.

Anonymous said...

Oh I meant look for an app that will stream the music to your phone. Although I doubt the blackberry will do that. Maybe look an android phone?

Unknown said...

I also recently heard about this site, but I haven't really checked it out yet


shmoo said...

In addition to first listen things on NPR and Spinner (http://www.spinner.com/new-releases - updates weekly), I also spent a lot of time on sets.songza.com and 3wk.com. KEXP's good too.

- EK

The Outsider said...
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The Outsider said...
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Jessica McCoy said...

A friend of mine just turned me on to http://www.radioparadise.com/

It's a pretty eclectic mix of modern and classic rock, world music, electronica, even a bit of classical and jazz. No commercials.

You can look through their archives to get a sense of their playlist.

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