PDA

View Full Version : Pandora vs. Slacker



vdonovan
2008-03-12, 09:05
I've been a Pandora subscriber for about a year. I've just started using Slacker (the free version), which seems to me a lot better. Pandora plays artists that SOUND LIKE the artists you've picked and it seems to have a very limited library since some songs repeat over and over. Slacker plays JUST the artists you've picked and so far to me the library sounds quite deep.

Anyone else have a preference? What does the paid version of Slacker get you over the free version?

dem
2008-03-12, 09:16
I subscribe to both and I find myself using Slacker more often. Pandora can sometimes go off in strange directions.

The main reason I subscribed to Slacker was to have unlimited skips, which is another advantage over Pandora.

mherger
2008-03-12, 09:21
> I've been a Pandora subscriber for about a year. I've just started
> using Slacker (the free version), which seems to me a lot better.
> Pandora plays artists that SOUND LIKE the artists you've picked and it
> seems to have a very limited library since some songs repeat over and
> over. Slacker plays JUST the artists you've picked and so far to me
> the library sounds quite deep.

That's interesting... while I totally agree on the way songs are combined, I consider the "sounds like" approach much more interesting. The chance to discover new artists imho is better, whereas the risk to get some "surprising" mixes, just because Tony Levin did work not only with Peter Gabriel, but King Crimson, Sarah MacLachlan and Alice Cooper too, is much smaller :-).

--

Michael

snarlydwarf
2008-03-12, 10:30
That's interesting... while I totally agree on the way songs are combined, I consider the "sounds like" approach much more interesting. The chance to discover new artists imho is better, whereas the risk to get some "surprising" mixes, just because Tony Levin did work not only with Peter Gabriel, but King Crimson, Sarah MacLachlan and Alice Cooper too, is much smaller :-).

Don't forget Black Light Syndrome.

Amazing stuff... improv.

mortslim
2008-03-12, 11:59
Well, if you want the best of all worlds, based upon my own experiences, you only have to subscribe to ONE service: Rhapsody.

Rhapsody does "sounds like" stations just like the other two do. Just pick an artist, and Rhapsody will design a radio station for you based upon that artist.

In addition to artist radio stations, you get channels, genres and playlists.

Finally, if you know what you want, you can play an individual song or an individual album as much as you want.

So you can listen to what you know or discover new music, the choice is yours. It is the most flexible service available with the most choices.

And the cost of Rhapsody is the same as subcribing to pandora plus slacker, but you get tons more with Rhapsody.

Just be a little flexible with Rhapsody because its services are so deep it takes a little while to learn it. Its not so obvious what you can get out of it by a quick glance at the rhapsody home web page or the rhapsody software. You have to use it for awhile to really appreciate its depth.

And the squeezenetwork gives you even more rhapsody than rhapsody itself gives. I can play "top tracks" of artists using squeezenetwork's version of rhapsody which I can't find using the rhapsody service itself.

bigfool1956
2008-03-12, 13:32
Now you're just rubbing it in for us Europeans.

vdonovan
2008-03-12, 23:02
Maybe I'm lame but I don't see how to create an artist-specific channel in Rhapsody. On the channels page all I see is a list of pre-defined channels.

mortslim
2008-03-13, 00:11
That's why I said that Rhapsody has depth. You won't see all of its features from just one screen. It requires some exploring.

Regarding artist stations, first search for the artist. Then you will see a whole world of possibilities, including artist stations.

vdonovan
2008-03-13, 07:48
Thanks again for the tip. Rhapsody artist channels look interesting but are not as versatile as Slacker. In Rhapsody, you name the artist and it points you to pre-defined channels that play that artist.

In Slacker (and Pandora) you define the artists that will play on your channel. If I pick the Rolling Stones, I will hear them and related bands. But I can also pick the Rolling Stones and Sly and The Family Stone, which will give me classic rock AND classic funk, should I want such a thing. Adding in the Stone Roses (or the Stone Ponies) will give the channel an 80's college slant. (I'm liking this channel already). Then I can name the channel "Stoned Music", save it, and add it to my favorites.

mortslim
2008-03-13, 08:58
Actually your description is not correct.

Remember what I said: Rhapsody is deep. You need to explore it to discover all its possibilities.

Regarding your example, in Rhapsody you get your own library that you can populate with any artists or or songs or albums you want. Then you can make your own playlist and shuffle play based upon this library. So you can control exactly what you hear.

Remember, the choice is yours with Rhapsody. There are no limits.

You want music you know? You got it.
You want to discover new music? You got it.
You want to make your own playlist? You got it.
You want Rhapsody to make a playlist for you? You got it.

Got it?

vdonovan
2008-03-15, 10:50
Hey, save the sales pitch, I'm already a Rhapsody subscriber. So far you haven't told me anything I don't already know about it.

Sure you can make playlists in Rhapsody from a pre-defined set of music. The Pandora vs. Slacker issue has to do with a "channel", in which you give guidelines for the music you would like to hear but the actual music selection is handled by an algorithm (or, in the old world, the music director at a radio station). Pandora's algorithm mostly has to do with the sound of the music: if you've picked music with a lot of horns and vocals, you'll get more of that, with some variations. You won't get guitars or rap. Slacker is more artist-based. Pick Van Morrison and you'll get him and his contemporaries. Pick Van Morrison and Snoop Dog and you'll get both of them AND their contemporaries in rotation.

Rhapsody offers many channels, but the music universe that they play from is pre-defined. You can't create a channel by specifying a dozen different artists that the channel should draw music from. Yes, I suppose I could save the entire catalogs of those dozen artists in the "My Music" section of Rhapsody and then have it create a randomized playlist, but that's a lot more trouble, especially as my musical interest may change from day to day or hour to hour.

Yeah Rhapsody is good, blah blah blah. Especially since their performance has improved and I'm not getting as many drop outs. If they add Slacker-style user-defined channels I will probably use them. But until then I'll use Slacker. Why not? It's FREE, which Rhapsody is not.

mortslim
2008-03-15, 11:21
Actually that is not correct.

Remember what I said: Rhapsody is deep. You have to explore all of its possibilities. It continues to evolve to add new features.

Rhapsody does have the feature you are describing, it is called "Dynamic Playlists".


"Calmer than you are...." - Walter Sobchak

vdonovan
2008-03-15, 11:40
This seems to say that dynamic playlists are pre-defined by Rhapsody and only available on Rhapsody MP3 players:
http://home.real.com/product/help/chandler/en/Playlists_Special.htm

I certainly was not able to set one up that I could see on my Squeezebox.

y360
2008-03-15, 11:57
I certainly was not able to set one up that I could see on my Squeezebox.

Indeed all the "My Rhapsody" stuff is not yet supported in Rhapsody Direct.
Andy wrote once that he'll be adding it as soon as Rhapsody make it available.

mortslim
2008-03-15, 11:57
Remember, you get it all with Rhapsody. You have to spend the time to explore it. You will uncover a lot of treasure!

To see a Dynamic Playlist on your Squeezebox, you first have to create one on Rhapsody, using the Rhapsody software. Then save that Dynamic Playlist to your library. After it is in your library, it can be accessed by the Squeezebox.

You can have as many of these playlists in your library as you want.

The "My Library" feature of Rhapsody is accessible on the Squeezebox via the Squeezenetwork.

Whatever you want, Rhapsody can do it for you, and better than you could imagine!



Walter Sobchak: You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways, Dude. You don't wanna know about it, believe me.

The Dude: Yeah, but Walter...

Walter Sobchak: Hell, I can get you a toe by 3 o'clock this afternoon... with nail polish.

mortslim
2008-03-15, 16:55
An issue raised about Slacker on a different thread highlights one of many differences between Slacker and Rhapsody.

On Slacker, you can only have one stream open at a time, no matter how many squeezeboxes you have, even with the premium subscription.

However, Rhapsody allows you to log in on three different devices with three different streams simultaneously.

So for example, if you have multiple listeners in different rooms, each can play their own music.

robbin
2008-03-15, 22:45
As this thread is Pandora vs. Slacker it should be noted that you can have multiple streams open with Pandora as well!

ssbowers
2008-03-17, 12:04
Pandora's voting method is pretty slick too. If you vote thumbs up or down you alter what types of songs are going to come up on your station.

Nonreality
2008-03-23, 11:48
I've used Pandora for a couple of years and now have it on the squeezebox and really enjoy it. My son and I have been amazed on how few songs play that we don't like. It's great for finding new artists that you would never hear on most radio stations and the quality is very good through the squeezebox. I'm going to have try the others but unfortunately I can only afford so much. One thing I do know: "Remember, you get it all with Rhapsody. You have to spend the time to explore it. You will uncover a lot of treasure!" I may remember that my whole life.

toby10
2008-03-28, 03:41
Pandora's voting method is pretty slick too. If you vote thumbs up or down you alter what types of songs are going to come up on your station.

Slacker has the same feature. Like, dislike, ban song, ban artist, skip. In time these stations "learn" what you prefer and play more of what you like.

nacmacfeegle
2008-03-28, 06:04
Now you're just rubbing it in for us Europeans.


I was listening and playing with Rhapsody last night, on the free 30 day trial, and I'm in the NE of Scotland....
I'm not sure whats worse, not having it at all, or losing it once you have tried and liked it.

vdonovan
2008-03-28, 09:12
Remember, you get it all with Rhapsody. You have to spend the time to explore it. You will uncover a lot of treasure!

cobalt
2008-04-02, 13:35
This has got to be one of the strangest threads I've read on this forum.

jmpugh2ndAccount
2008-04-03, 05:49
Remember, you get it all with Rhapsody. You have to spend the time to explore it. You will uncover a lot of treasure!

The impossible is possible at Rhapsody.com! Welcome to Rhapsody.com. The only limit is YOURSELF! Welcome! .........

bordo
2008-07-04, 21:06
Saying Rhapsody is better than Pandora is like saying my CD player is better than your radio. They are different services. After playing with both for a while I think you need both. Rhapsody is great for the on demand aspect. you hear a song you like and you can play the whole album, or if you hear a good review, you can hear songs from the band. While this is cool it takes work. With Pandora you can set up a radio station that plays only songs you like. This lets you explore new music and it takes a lot less work. And if any Rhapsody fan says you can do a similar thing in Rhapsody there is no comparison. when it comes to artist's channels, Pandora is head and shoulders above the rest. My usage is about 70% Pandora, 20% Rhapsody, 10% my music collection. I've only played with Slacker some and find the custom stations aren't as good as Pandora, but the fine-tuning feature is really cool. I had hoped Slacker (premium) would serve both needs, but find the custom stations aren't quite as good as Pandora (much better than Rhapsody though) and the on-demand isn't as good as Rhapsody.

jsprag
2008-07-04, 21:38
This thread caught my attention because I just canceled my Rhapsody subscription yesterday. Luckily nothing I've read here makes me regret it and I'm continuing happily with Pandora and Slacker.

To address the original question, I used to be frustrated at how repetitive and narrow my Pandora stations were and I was able to fix them by deleting a lot of ratings so I'd suggest first taking a look at that. Adding a lot of thumbs up or thumbs down will tend to narrow the generated playlist. The general guidance is that you should only thumbs up a song if it something you really like that is outside the normal range of that station. Additionally, adding more seed artists can increase the variety.

In the end I use them for different things. If I want to listen to 80's music, I use a Slacker station. If I want to an 80's "sound" then I'll use Pandora. If I had to keep just one it would be Slacker but since Pandora is only $3 a month I can't find a reason not to maintain it.

From the Pandora FAQ:

Q: How can I increase variety on the playlist for my station?
First, we recommend that you add a lot of music to your stations. In order to increase variety of musical styles, we suggest adding several artist names. Since the Music Genome will use an artist name to select music from the artist's entire repertoire, this produces the broadest possible playlist. Adding more artist names increases this effect.

Next, be selective when giving a "Thumbs Up" to music that already matches the station's defined starting points. Consider voting "Thumbs Up" only when a new kind of music plays that you'd like to hear more often on that station.

Finally, instead of voting "Thumbs Down" on songs which play too frequently (but are still appropriate for your station), try voting "Zzz" (from the 'Guide Us' menu in the lower right) while the song is playing, which will keep that song from playing on any of your stations for thirty days, or simply skipping it, neither of which will restrict the station's playlist in any other way.

mortslim
2008-07-04, 22:10
Here is just one of thousands of ideas to try on Rhapsody to explore its depth:

Start with the music guide, then genres, then folk, then subgenre, then country-folk, then subgenre again, then old-time, then top artists, then doc watson, then top tracks, and press play. You just set up a station with over 700 Doc Watson songs !!!

Don't like Doc Watson? No problem, that was just an example of the depth I am talking about.

It's deep, real deep.

cshaida
2008-07-07, 16:01
I have and am paying for both rhapsody and pandora. I tend to use rhapsody more but that's because at a practical level I'm more generally looking for a 'vaguely sounds like x as background music' (which the rhapsody artist channel provides) rather than a more interesting but also more intense 'I wonder what other artists would be connected to this one.'

I believe at the root there are two very different inference models behind them: pandora's correlates musical components (some 70 specifically defined ones they claim); rhapsody correlates market selection(somewhat like amazon's people who like x also like y) as well as their database of influenced by, contemporary, influenced.

In a fair amount of use I'd say that pandora comes up with more interesting connections but that once it has come up with a 'connection' it continues to play the same set of songs to demonstrate that connection. And that the 'connections' in rhapsody are more obvious but that it will play more songs from each connection.

A completely unfounded guess is that Pandora will end up licensing or selling it's backend to some other service, since it's uniqueness is not it's marketing or customers but its algorithm and database of musical attriubutes.