Somewhat in the spirit of the twelve days of Christmas, I am going to give an end-of-the-year rundown of my twelve favorite (mostly) free web tools. What you'll find is that most of these twelve are NOT off the beaten path; they are fairly successful, widely-used applications. I play around with plenty of new, more obscure, web tools as well; but these twelve are those that I use regularly and recommend to others.
Number 12: Pandora
Based on the Music Genome Project, Pandora allows you to customize your own music channels so that you can listen to your favorite songs or artists, and other tunes similar to those. From the website: "Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like. Over the past 6 years, we've carefully listened to the songs of over 10,000 different artists - ranging from popular to obscure - and analyzed the musical qualities of each song one attribute at a time. This work continues each and every day as we endeavor to include all the great new stuff coming out of studios, clubs and garages around the world."
In the screenshot you can see that for my Natalie Merchant channel, it firt played My Skin from her Ophelia recording, then played a song by Sarah McLachlan, then one by Jessica Stone, then the Guilded Cage, and then another song by Natalie Merchant, This House is on Fire.
This is great to have open in a browser while you're working for a little background music. You can even train it to provide more of the music that you like and less of those that you don't like. Overall, it is very cool. No download, all web-based, access your channels from any Internet connection, and totally free. Number 12 on the countdown (countup?), but could have placed higher.