Update: I no longer use Jango because of the amount of advertising and feature crippling. I rather use Grooveshark. You should give it a try if you like to listen to streaming music.
After Last.fm went to their 3 EUR/month model, I started looking around for alternatives. Not that I’m too cheap to pay that modest sum, but at the moment I don’t have a PayPal account (I’m in the process of setting it up, but being in Romania it can take some time). Of course most of the sites were USA only :-(, but then I found Jango.
What I liked:
- It works outside of the USA (imagine that, people outside of the USA like music too – sarcasm off) and it is free
- You have access to a large selection of artists
- A very big plus: you can play almost any song at any time! There is some weird concept of “tuning into other people’s stations which are listening to the given song”, but I think that this is more to please the record companies than an actual fact (because if you leave your browser window open, you can click on the same link the next day and still listen to the song – it is improbable that someone is listening to the same song at all times). You don’t get access to all of the songs of a particular artist/band (only in very rare cases), but if they have many songs and you generally like the style of the band (otherwise why would you listen to it), you can play a few songs instantly. Compare this with Last.fm where you don’t have any assurance that you will hear a particular artist, even though you created a station based on the given artist.
What I disliked:
- Very basic “done by programmers” interface (I guess this is why they are looking for a front-end dev) which sometimes fails to work (for example at one moment adding a song from an other station to your stations didn’t do anything – it seems to be fixed now)
- Their algorithm for “similar artists” is quite weak. Then again this seems to be the case with Last.fm. The last algorithm for “similar artists” which impressed me was the one from Pandora, which unfortunately I can’t use :(
- They tend to push lesser known artists quite hard (I assume that this is an important part of their business model), but this combined with the previous point (weak similarity algorithm) makes it annoying
- They tend to include a lot of aggressive advertising (which may stop the playback until the ad ends playing). This seems to come in waves (ie. sometimes a week goes by without any adverts, and then every 2-3 song I get an ad), but in the end you get what you pay for (you can’t complain too much)
- They have some weird “social networking” features (like sending a “thanks” to somebody after you’ve listened to a song which they also listened to???), which seem completely superfluous and distracting
- There are no widgets which I could use to display my played song on my blog for example
In the end I might stick with it (unless it too starts imposing some hard limits), at which moment I hopefully will have my PayPal account and more options available (like Last.fm, the Zune store – even though I’m not sure that it works in Romania, etc)