Googled for “free internet radio” a while ago and discovered that AOL has an internet radio station that has a gazillion different channels. Just about any genre or “niche” you can think of is listed. There are commercials, but I haven’t been listening to their smooth jazz channel long enough (only about 30 minutes) to know how many an hour they play– possibly only one. You access it through an “in browser” player, but there is an iPhone app. You get a trial period of about 30 minutes, but if you want to continue to listen, you have to sign up. However, membership is free. One nice thing, each channel has its own “home page” with the player controls at the top, which show you what song is currently being played, gives you an option to buy the track (from iTunes), and allows you to skip, “favorite” or “ban” the song which means, in essence, that you are creating your own customized “in genre” station. Further on down the channel homepage, you get a short bio on the artist of the song that is playing, some of that artist’s albums, artists whose music is similar to that artist and which channels of AOL’s lineup play that artist.
Of course, there are advertisements on every page of their website, and when you sign up for an account, they want to know your age, sex and location (zip code), which means they are collecting demographic and marketing information on you, and “targeting” their advertisements based on the information you give (I lied about my age, and would have lied about my sex, but the kind of ads I’d probably get are the kind I can do without. . . ). Just now, when I decided to listen to a different channel, I had to sit through a Tums video commercial before I could access the station. However, I’ve been listening for about 50 minutes and I’ve only gotten one audio commercial so far and that was at about 15 minutes past the hour. I changed to another channel after about 2 minutes and I didn’t get a commercial, so that may be a time thing.
For my UK readers, I have no way of knowing if AOL internet radio is available in the UK. You might try the link and let me know if you can get it. I’m sure they check your IP address to see where you are before they’ll let you access the service.
When I checked to see if there was an AOL internet radio app available for my Squeezebox (There isn’t, but I could add individual stations manually if I wanted to), I decided to check out the version of the Squeezebox app for AccuRadio that is available on the internet. It is only available through an in-browser player, but it has iApps (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) and I can, of course, access it through my Squeezbox. You can skip songs and ban artists and songs just like on AOL internet radio, but you can also mix genres into your own customized “radio station.” AccuRadio is not commercial free either. You sign up for a free account in order to access the full features, and again, they want your sex and age, but “Sex” has an “Other” option if you’d prefer not to give that information. However, when you sign up, they do not ask for your location, so that bodes well for my UK readers. Of course, they are collecting demographic information on what you listen to, etc. Several times when I changed channels to check out another one, I had to sit through an audio commercials before I could have any music. They probably play about 1-2 commercial an hour, based on the commercial I had to sit through when I signed back in after I signed out so I could bookmark the “My Channel’s” page. Like AOL, AccuRadio has a gazillion genres and subgenres — Their “Celtic” genre has 10 different channels. Their “classical music” genre has 55 channels. If you are a jazz fan, you’d be in hog heaven here — 61 different channels — every subgenre you could think of from Swing to “off the wall” and everything in between. For instance, there are 12 channels of Smooth Jazz alone. One nice thing is that whenever you listen to a channel, it is automatically displayed on a “My Channels” page, which you can edit to remove stations if you wish.
Again, I don’t know if AccuRadio internet radio is available in the UK. I’d appreciate hearing from any of my “non US” readers as to whether they can access any of the internet radio stations I’ve mentioned, and I will update those posts to reflect that information.
One thing I note is that both AOL and AccuRadio have a “comedy” genre, which looks to be mostly routines from stand-up comedians. That might be fun to knit to.