Peace, Love & Free Music: the Rise of Wireless Internet Radio

Not just 8-tracks, record players, Walkmans and boomboxes, go ahead and reserve a spot for any CD-centric apparatus in the unofficial Music Mausoleum (or Music Museum for the nostalgic at heart).  It may be tough to hear for a lovesick teen, but today’s music has gone entirely digital. What’s a poor kid to do, without the help of a mixtape or burned CD, to win the affections of the girl across the classroom?  Sorry, if posting a link to a playlist on her Facebook wall doesn’t carry quite the same romantic sentiment.

Like it or not, you can’t reach out and touch your music like you could in the past.  Not to say it’s without upside.  Anyone who’s ever scratched a disk or seen tape torn from cassette, like lions feasting on a fallen gazelle, knows the sweet symphony of your favorite songs can be fleeting.  Digital music provides unchanging sound quality, free from skips or all-out destruction at the hands of user error or machine malfunction.  So, how do you get it?  After all, it’s not like you can boogey down to Sam Goodie and ask the clerk to upload the new Taylor Swift album to your iPod or laptop.

There’s always the iTunes Store, but at a $1 per song, building your library can turn into a costly brick-by-brick endeavor.  And, it’s not as if the Napster-Kazaa-Limewire Era has faded into a distant memory.  Music is still inherently free in the minds of many.  Just a short time ago, download junkies across the map were rocking out to stacks of 1,000+ tunes at a time, albeit illegally.  Today, acquiring the same colossal sum of songs would run you $1,000+.

So, there you have it, a choice. You can either listen to music of your choosing, or:

  • Go to college
  • Pay off your student loans
  • Buy groceries
  • Make rent

Need a compromise? Cue wireless internet radio to the rescue.  More and more people are turning to wireless internet radio, free unless you upgrade to premium service, allowing for streaming music on-the-go.  While most local radio and syndicated shows will let you listen live online or upload podcasts, available over any connection whether hardwire or wireless, internet radio services like Pandora and Grooveshark continue to sweep the country like wildfire.

Pandora’s “Music Genome Project” tailors stations to your personal preferences.  If you like a song, expect to hear a lot more like it.  For old-fashioned FM fans who tire of talkative DJ’s and incessant commercials breaks, Pandora still lets you enjoy the unexpected thrill of your favorite song hitting the airwaves.  Not to mention, it doesn’t let you play the role of your own worst enemy, putting the same songs on blast so often, they soon serve only to annoy.

On the other hand, if you know what you want to hear and when you want to hear it, Grooveshark lets you search for almost any song in not-so-recent memory, even store it in your account, then build and save playlists, just as you would with a standard music library.

“But, you said ‘wireless’ internet radio, where’s the wireless?”

You’re right, the only time you should have to sit in one spot to hear the music you want is at a live show.  While programs like Pandora and Grooveshark aren’t engineered specifically for wireless internet radio, rather any form of internet access, with the right internet and/or cell phone service provider, you can enjoy wireless internet radio practically anywhere.  That’s right, wireless internet radio can be just as portable as an mp3 player, without having to pay for music downloads every time you want a new song.

For only a few bucks a month, both services have smartphone apps for download, so you can enjoy wireless internet radio on your mobile device.  Or if you’re a 4G/3G internet subscriber, you can simply stream wireless internet radio straight from the website and enjoy music all over town, as long as you’re in reach of a signal.  Keep your head up, young John Cusack, there’s hope for you yet.  All you need is wireless internet radio, speakers and a laptop…  show up outside her window, and just wait for her to “Say Anything.”

Why throw away your money on music downloads, when free music is still at your fingertips?  Plus, completely government sanctioned.  It’s not piracy.  It’s price-efficiency.  It’s wireless internet radio; and it’s the future of the music industry.