Radio stations tuned to you

Digital radio like Google Play Music All Access lets music fans choose what they want to listen to free of ads and endlessly repeated hits.

Jeff Chiu/AP/File
Chris Yerga, engineering director of Android, speaks about Google play at Google I/O 2013 in San Francisco, May 15, 2013. At this time, Google Play Music All Access is only available on Android devices.

Always dreamed of having your own radio station, spinning all your favorite music, whenever you wanted?

Well, say goodbye to robot-programmed, Taylor Swift-all-the-time-playing, endless-obnoxious-ads-blasting terrestrial radio, and say hello to all-digital “you radio,” available right now – free of charge.

How do I get this party started, you ask? There are many players in this burgeoning field, but until Apple comes out with its highly touted version later this month, your best bet for a personalized radio is an application called Google Play Music All Access. It’s a treasure-trove for music fanatics and casual fans alike. Once you download the app, you’ll get a month of free streaming to sample its functions and features. Then it costs $10 a month, most of which goes to the artists and songwriters featured in its library of 20 million songs. That’s an intimidating number to be sure, but the app is beautifully designed to make discovering new music an intuitive joy, not an effort. The Listen Now feature points you to great new music for your library, based on your previous searches, your music preferences, and input from consulting panels of savvy music freaks. Store your “radio stations” and playlists on the cloud, or purchase albums and songs directly from the app.

At this time, Google Play Music All Access is only available on Android devices. So Apple users will have to wait for iTunes Radio, launching this month. Knowing those innovative folks at Apple, iTunes Radio will likely leapfrog Google’s impressive product.

Pandora, one of the first streaming music apps, is still a great place to find new music, as is Spotify, which costs $10 a month if you want the bells and whistles without the pesky ads. Pandora’s ad-free version is $3.99 a month. Both services link to Facebook for sharing your playlists.

And if you prefer the old-school radio model and just want access to, say, 45,000 radio stations around the world streaming directly to your phone or tablet, iHeartRadio and Slacker Radio might be just up your alley. Both services offer a large selection of broadcast radio stations and their own curated stations with titles like “All Beatles and Stones,” “Radio Heartland,” and “Lollapalooza.”

I found a slew of great new music while researching this column and I’ve been streaming custom radio stations all morning. Download some of these free apps and try them out. Hey – surprises are good!

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