I found two things interesting about his post.
First, he gets to the central difference between the two applications. Last.fm is based on what people who listen to the same artists you listen to like. It’s a social recommendation thing. There’s nothing wrong with that- it just is what it is. Pandora, on the other hand, actually plays songs with the same musical structure as songs you have indicated you like.
It reminds me of a running debate I have with another songwriter I know. I believe very deeply that someone with a nice voice could sing any lyrics at all, even nonsense, and if the melody, arrangement and playing are great, the song will be generally considered a good song. I know that when I hear a song on the radio that grabs me, 95% of the time it’s because of the melody and arrangement and the playing- not because of the lyrics. My friend thinks that’s hogwash and that a song needs strong, well crafted lyrics to be good.
He’s a Last.fm guy and I’m a Pandora guy.
Second, Steve mentions Howie Day. Here’s a small world moment: a good friend of mine (who grew up in Maine) is a friend of his. I heard about Howie long before he became popular. I still haven’t heard much of his music, but I’ve heard a lot about him from my friend.
I enjoy both Last.fm and Pandora. I just find that the new music I hear on Pandora is consistently closer to what I like than the new songs I hear anywhere else.