This Is Très Cool (Unbridled Joy Remix)
About a month-and-a-half ago or so someone pointed me to Grooveshark and all I have to say is... wow. Its like Pandora but without all the annoying limitations... you can play any band, any song, any album immediately. And it's free; you don't even need to create a login. I believe they're ad-supported, but I don't even see the ads on account of NoScript.
I'm having a field-day with the site. Their catalog is copious... I've been able to stump it exactly once (I couldn't find B.Y.K.) and I've searched for some pretty obscure stuff. Right now I'm listening to the Stigmata soundtrack (yeah, they've got soundtracks too), an album I've been meaning to pick up since about forever. And the quality is fine, some kind of streaming MP3... I haven't bothered to dig into the page source to identify the exact technology.
Needless to say, it's pretty cool to have all this music at your fingertips. They've got a "Show Similar" feature which works pretty frickin' well1... you can spend all day bouncing from band to band. Definitely a good way to discover bands you might like but haven't yet heard of. I haven't messed with their "smart playlist" functionality yet; don't know how well that works.
On that topic... the "Popular" playlist is an education. I think that the only artist on today's list listened to in any substantial amount is Eminem. Eh... I suppose there's no accounting for taste (mine or the crowds).
On second thought... "pretty cool" really doesn't do the feeling justice. It is an unmitigated joy to be able to waste my time wading through oodles and oodles of music without any commitment. The only investment I have to make is my time, which means that I can assuage my musical curiosity in any way I see fit without worrying about the cost.
This wasn't going to turn into a philosophical post but... damn... thank you Internet. From here on out anytime someone complains that the tubes are good for nothing but porn and Lolcats I'm going to point them to GrooveShark. Having instantaneous access to an essentially unlimited catalog of music free of charge (modulo ads) is a qualitatively new and different experience. It's the moral equivalent of having the complete Library of Congress delivered to my latop. And it is awesome.
1 Usually. For some reason they think that Britney Spears is similar to My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. This is either an astute piece of musical analysis or breakage; I'm inclined to favor the latter.