As recommended recently in Macleans, I tried a free music website, Pandora.com. It is not a download site; it’s a site that allows you to create your own radio “stations” by first choosing the artist(s) or type of music you like. Then it plays that music from that artist and similar music on your computer.
You can set up as many as 100 radio “stations” for the different artists or types of music you like. But you can’t limit a station to one artist.
A couple of caveats: You can listen to a few songs without registering, but if you want to continue you have to register with an e-mail address and U.S. zip code. I tried 90210 and luckily it worked (or they haven’t busted me yet). Pandora also offers a paid service, so if you stick to the free service you will get pop-up ads. Another commercial aspect is that it will play songs by artists you probably have never heard of, but they will be within the genre of the stations you have set up.
It also allows you to skip forward, but only a certain number of songs per hour. So if you skip a lot, you may hit a wall for a while and have to wait out the song (but you can go back and listen to any of the songs you skipped). You can also tell the site that you don’t like a song and it will never play that song again (wow, what a power rush!).
Also, adding artists to a particular radio station may take you in a direction you hadn’t intended. I added Michael Buble to my Carpenters station and ended up hearing a lot of Bobby Darrin and that serenader of Liberal leaders, Paul Anka (gag!).
But it is (audio) commercial-free and it beats listening to commercial radio online, or buying satellite radio if you’re not ready to make that leap.