“To play the music you love” is the mission of Pandora Radio. Last.fm is “a music service that learns what you love.” So what’s the difference? I’ve been testing out both of the sites in order to find out. Here’s what I’ve found…

pandora1Pandora, offered only in the U.S., is based on the stations you create by putting in your favorite artist. From there, a radio station is created to play music similar to that specific artist and their sound. You can have multiple stations, bookmark songs you like and skip songs you don’t like (but you’re limited to only 5 skips per hour). You can access more information about an artist as well as an explanation from the site as to why a certain song was played on your station. Overall, good quality sound and selection. I used Pandora almost daily for about 4 months until I heard about Last.fm.

Last.fm, based in London, was a little overwhelming at flastfmirst; I wasn’t sure where to start. Yet after a few minutes of clicking around and searching for a few of my favorite bands, I quickly added the site to my favorites. I was hooked. Each artist has a page that provides full tracks, band bio, tour info, tons of pictures, videos, similar artists and more. In addition, you can choose a specific radio to listen to based on one band or a genre. My personal pick is the “Indie Radio” where I’ve discovered loads of good music. You can skip through as many songs as you like, add a song to “loved tracks” or ban a song from ever being played again. Last.fm does have additional features that require a subscription of $3/month but I think that plenty of music, pictures and information are provided for free.

My preference of the two is obviously Last.fm most likely because it plays a better selection of indie music. I’ve been more satisifed with its recommendations. I also enjoy that there is more useful information about each music artist.

Blogger Matt Singley had some interesting thoughts on the two sites. Read what his preference is here.

Both sites are excellent options for finding new music based on what you already love. I think these kinds of Web sites are gaining popularity and while Pandora is ahead in numbers, Last.fm may catch up soon. Give both a try instead of listening to your own iTunes playlist and find something new.