There’s a certain kind of ambient genre music that l like. BlueMars Cryosleep channel catered to my tastes perfectly, but BlueMars has been down for a long time now (since June 8, 2013). It’s sister station, Radio Ultima, was down for a long time, up for a while, and is back down again. The closest I’ve been able to find to my tastes is Ambient Art Sounds. Soma FM‘s Drone Zone is OK, but not quite on the mark. They have a new channel, Deep Space One, which is supposed to be music that’s in between Drone Zone, and Space Station Soma, but it’s kind of meh! too. My kind of ambient has no beat, is fairly uniform in volume and very unobtrusive. It doesn’t have to be nonmelodic, but some of the best stuff is. I can find some of the artists I like on Rhapsody, but a lot of the stuff I like is “niche market” and apparently either not mainstream enough for Rhapsody or Rhapsody has either been unable to or unwilling to try to make a deal with them.
I’m pretty picky. I like MajorUrsa‘s stream (the click to play place is located in the upper right hand corner of the webpage), and they provide a playlist. I like Ambient Sleeping Pill. It bills itself as music to sleep by, so you know it’s not going to be loud or intrusive. Sleepbot Environmental Broadcast is another one in the same vein. I don’t mind that it occasionally lapses into quiet songs from other genres such as jazz ballads. Dark Ambient Radio does what it says on the tin. I find some of it is a little heavy and intrusive, though. Nirvana Meditation is too New Agey for me, although the Ambient channel (which I can only seem to get in Ogg format) is not too bad. There is zzzone.net, but the guy that puts it out is into people reading numbers. Listen to it for about an hour and you’ll see what I mean. Otherwise he plays lots of good stuff. He has an alternate ambient stream here which is not bad. Another Planet FM has some psychedelic and new age stuff but otherwise it’s good.
All the above stations have an in-browser player or, if you know how, you can put links into and access their streams from Winamp (what I do) or Windows Media Player. Some of them can be accessed through SHOUTtcast, Radio Tuna, and other such.
Some people have noted that some of these stations “go off air” for periods of time, but I think it’s to do with bandwidth and how many listeners their servers can accommodate, or how much bandwidth SHOUTcast or whatever service they come through allocates to them (or, Murphy’s law being what it is, their electricity service goes off, or their server crashes …). When their bandwidth is full, you can’t access their stream. Also, if you listen to them for 11-12 hours at a time, the way I do, they may kick you off for a while to make room for other people, so I try to move around a bit and not monopolize anybody’s bandwidth. I can put up with the odd new age cut if it’s not too new-agey.
Live365 has some stations that say they play ambient and might be good, but none that are exclusively ambient. Naturally, the ones that look like they might be good are only available to VIP members. However, they don’t bill monthly for their VIP service, and frankly, I don’t have $72 bucks lying around to subscribe to their commercial free VIP stream. (If I could come up with $72 bucks all at once, I’d spend it on groceries, yanno?)
I periodically troll through Internet Radio Stations website, Radio Tuna, and SHOUTcast to see what turns up. Not much that’s tolerable, I’m afraid.
And tolerance is what it all comes down to, really. For example, there are some decent ambient stations out there I could listen to except that I have a very low tolerance for stations that interrupt the music to have station idents. Drives me up a wall. I have zero tolerance for commercials. I’d sooner listen to fingernails on a blackboard. (or AM radio!) And I hate those internet radio services that give commercials and/or station idents like every 15 minutes to half an hour unless you pay them money on a monthly basis (Like Pandora, Digitally Imported, Live 365, etc.). It’s like a protection racket. Pay us money or we’ll constantly annoy you. Yeah, I’ll pay for Rhapsody, because they’re a music service that gives you unlimited play of their catalog which is good value for me because ambient is not the only genre of music I like — although the “popular” stuff you have to buy to hear the whole thing — but most of what they call popular is stuff I can’t stand anyway, so no loss there. You can make playlists and download stuff to an MP3 player from Rhapsody as well and I can access Rhapsody through my Squeezebox internet radio as well, but, as I say, they don’t have all the artists I like.
Ambient lovers might check out m:cast radio. It describes itself as “a podcast of all things ambient, chill, and electronica” This blog puts out podcasts of music with a playlist for each podcast. You can play or download a podcast. I use Winamp, which can handle Ogg format. There is a list of featured DJ’s and artists on the blog sidebar. The podcasts are all Creative Commons licensed.
Also, Earth Mantra has made their catalog available through Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license. You can download it for free if you follow the links. They have a lot of Palencar and Arcticology.
I recently got a Grace Digital Internet Radio for Christmas and, although it doesn’t get Rhapsody, it does have a headphone jack and a sleep timer option. It also has about 17,000 “pretuned” stations, including several of the above. By Wednesday, I should have the extension cord I ordered so I’ll be able to hook this speaker to it and put it under my pillow.