The general public is still confused about how on-demand streaming music is different than Internet Radio. Beats Music and Spotify are on-demand streaming services. Pandora and iHeartRadio are Internet Radio services.
On-demand streaming means you can immediately play the music (song or album) you search for.
Internet Radio allows you to search for a song, artist or genre, but then will play a continuous stream of songs similar to your search criteria. Eventually it may even play the song you searched for. This is often referred to as a lean-back listening experience.
On-demand streaming is like your old music collection – You choose it, you collect it, you listen to it whenever you want.
Internet Radio is like over-the-airwaves radio except there is an algorithm that chooses the music. The more you listen and interact (by liking and disliking songs) with Internet Radio, the better it learns your tastes and preferences to deliver better music to you.
Basically, that’s it.
Beats Music differentiates itself from other On-demand services by using people to put together playlists of songs that play well together. Exactly what a disc jockey used to do for radio, and what an algorithm does for Internet Radio.
The basics of how Pandora makes a radio station for listeners is described below by Carolyn Heneghan writing on The Motley Fool:
“While Pandora runs on an algorithm, its music library was first built with human curation. Known as the Music Genome Project, experts analyzed music to label songs with nearly 400 distinct musical characteristics, also known as “genes,” such as “West Coast rap roots” and “Cool jazz qualities.”
“After completing the analysis, experts organized songs by these musical traits, and they developed an algorithm that selects musically related songs, one after another. This creates a playlist based on an artist, song, or genre, as selected by one of Pandora’s 75.3 million active users. Putting this algorithm into place is where human interaction ends. The actual human curation of the playlists is not a part of the end-user experience.”
“Beats and Songza, on the other hand, use hands-on human curation to create the playlists that users hear. Experts not only analyze and organize the songs by musical qualities, but they put the playlists together rather than letting a computer do it for them.”