Pandora is a free (hopefully it stays free!) streaming music service that sends out music based on your preferences, kinda like a Netflix queue that adjusts as you rate music. You start out by picking some artist or band whose style you want to listen to, and the system provides the rest.
You can listen to a few songs before being nagged about registering. You can then register for free and supply whatever information you want; there was no email validation or anything.
It worked great at home on Ubuntu + Firefox. I was in an electric mood so I chose Underworld as my initial seed and got a nice 3 hours’ worth of decent music with one exception of some Nickelback-sounding pop rock song that came in. No idea how it got in my list, but you can click a “thumbs down” for any song. It’ll log your preference and skip right to the next one.
I really dig SomaFM.com’s Groove Salad, but Pandora will definitely vie with them for my web radio pleasures as long as they stay free and have as varied a mix as they seem to have at first blush. If they do, this truly is the future of “radio” and music exposure. Much like the past decade and more where I’ve expanded my tastes and horizons through mp3 sharing (and thus spent money on those I liked!), this is serving me up that same benefit without the hassle of finding, downloading, and sorting it all myself.