Internet radio and TV

This week brings news of two splendid entertainment channels I have discovered.

The first is Internet radio station Last.fm which you can find at www.last.fm and is like your favourite radio station, but on steroids. It has a lot in common with conventional radio in that it plays you a stream of music but, in this case, you have the opportunity of choosing the sort of music you want to listen to.

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The service costs a whole $3 a month but if you go to the site, you can sign up and listen to 30 free tracks to see if you like it. All you do to start is type an artist or genre into the search box and the system will then play your selection of music based on that.

You can’t actually choose a particular song that you want to hear and they is no way of influencing which other artists it picks for you, but you do get to hear songs now and then, from the artist of your choice.

It seems that there are copyright issues preventing you picking a single artist and listening to all their music. You more or less have to take what you are given but each song that is played his recorded in your online library and you can create playlists of your favourites.

There are restrictions there too, and your playlist has to include at least 45 songs from 15 different artists. The whole thing does sound rather restrictive but it’s actually a blessing in disguise because you get to hear music that you wouldn’t necessarily have known to look for.

The system is very good at choosing music for you based on the artists that you searched for. I was listening to a selection of music the system deemed to be similar to Connie Francis and, for example, it came up with Allegheny Moon by Patti Page, which I had never heard before but which I loved.

Like I say, I seem to be enjoying pretty much all of the music that the system chooses for me and, if not, there is always the Skip Track button to click.

What makes the whole experience even more interesting is that each song is accompanied by the biographical details of the singer or group, and there is a list of other artists who have produced similar music.

For $3 a month over and above my Internet subscription, Last.fm is a real no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. Without it, I might never have heard Fontella Bass belting out Rescue Me or Lucinda Williams singing I Envy The Wind; both profound musical experiences.

I did promise to share two new entertainment channels with you so I’ll mention the fact that The Naked News has established a South African website and is selling subscriptions to locals at R89 per month.

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It can be found at nakednews.co.za and is a 24-hour Internet TV news channel with the twist that the presenters are all eye-poppingly attractive and buck (shouldn’t that read ‘doe’?) naked.

One comment I came across in a forum in connection with Naked News was that ‘the news becomes almost secondary’; I can well imagine!

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