Last.FM, the streaming radio, gets a thumbs up. Feed it the name of an artist or group and it provides a flow of similar material, both obvious choices and obscure, weird and often fascinating turnings. If you take a look at my profile you’ll see that I’ve already enjoyed a wide mix. Furthermore, if you don’t like a choice it makes, you can ban the track from being sent to you again (and there’s also a chance to mark the ones you love).
I’m not quite sure how much difference that interaction makes but it’s certainly getting a much better hit rate than any point I can think of on my radio dial. It’s also a very useful place to get an idea of what a particular group sounds like. The only fly in the radio ointment is that sometimes the server seems to get overloaded but, as a free service, I’m not going to complain too much, especially while it’s still getting off the ground.
However, I’m less convinced about audioscrobbling, it’s ability to record what I’ve been listening to from my own collection. As far as I can ascertain, a deliberate decision has been made to stop any attempt to upload things listened to offline (to avoid people trying to spam the charts) and even the files that I do listen to via Amarok (with it’s built in ‘scrobbler connection) seem to be only intermittently submitted.
I think the for moment I’ll be maintaining my existing listening record and keeping an ear out for future advances (or, to be frank, alternative services) that come closer to what I want. It’s not as good as I’d hoped; maybe my expectations were too high.