We have never been spoiled for choice when it comes to internet music providers in Australia, and things seem to be getting worse not better.
Five or six years ago, I first came across the intriguing internet radio service Pandora which drew upon the painstakingly assembled Music Genome Project to generate customised radio stations. Entering a track or artist on the web site would produce a playlist of “genetically” similar music and the results were impressive. Back then I was able to stream Pandora via my Squeezebox network music player. But it wasn’t long until the music copyright police got onto Pandora and Australians visiting the website would simply see a page explaining why the service was not available. I was lucky enough to still be able to play Pandora stations over the Squeezebox for another year until they discovered that loophole and shut it down.
The on-demand music streaming service Rhapsody has never been available in Australia. Rhapsody’s newer challenger Spotify is also unavailable here and I must admit to a little Schadenfreude when I learned that Spotify is yet to become available in the US. Although I am sure it will be available there before we get it.
With all of these services denied to music-lovers down-under, I had to make do with Last.fm which generated custom stations based on listening habits of other users whose tastes overlapped with your own. Founded almost 10 years ago in London, Last.fm was bought by CBS four years ago, which made me nervous for a while, but the service seemed to continue as usual. Until this February when Australian listeners, and listeners in many other countries around the world, found their Last.fm service abruptly discontinued.
Options for online music should be expanding, yet here in Australia we have fewer services available than we did five years ago.