With the advent of satellite radio and the increasing pressure on terrestrial radio to abide by what many believe to be outright censorship, music lovers unwilling to fork over monthly subscription fees to XM or Sirius are eager to find alternatives to fulfill their listening needs. A popular outlet is internet radio.
Though some internet radio sites require paid memberships on par with satellite radio, there are free options to choose from. Better still those free sites feature a variety of musical genres including pop, jazz, rock and for the purposes of this piece dance. Dance music is in many ways best suited to this modern way of listening being both dance and internet radio are both based somewhat in counter culture as well as growing in industry acceptance. Of the many dance internet radio sites, www.digitallyimported.com, now www.di.fm and www.live365.com lead the pack musically and visually.
DI and Live365 provide similar dance mixes with techno, trance and hip hop beats. Streaming music through the internet requires a media player. The choice of player is one way each site is distinguishable from the other.
Live 365 has a built in player. Once the mix is selected, the Live 365 player pops up in a separate window. The sound quality is very good. It is worth noting that the pop up window does not spawn other pop ups so internet security is not threatened.
DI does not have a custom made player but it offers listeners three players to stream with; Windows Media Player, Winamp and aacPlus. The choice mainly has to do with computer speed. Upon testing each player out Winamp was the fastest and aacPlus was the slowest, which is consistent with the speeds listed.
Perhaps mentioning this is unnecessary being that a certain degree of internet savvy is needed to stream music online but dial up service is not conducive to this manner of radio listening. Broadband or DSL is a must. That said, once you stream through either site, you will find the sound quality and uninterrupted play very much to your liking.
Another way to tell each site apart is by the radio stations they sponsor. Actually Live 365 is the only site that acts as a third party vehicle for other free radio stations highlighting domestic and international dials with a wide range of musical genres. Live 365 does categorize the stations by music type but they do not let the listener in on what is currently playing. It relies greatly on a rating system, which is highly subjective and dependent on who is listening.
By comparison, DI does not promote other station options. Instead they offer choices by genre exclusively. True to the former name Digitally Imported, most of the music has an international base. Like Live 365, streaming through DI does not invite viruses or internet slowdowns. However, DI does tell you what is currently playing making the listening decision an easier one.
Visually neither site is overdone. While streaming does require a certain amount of internet knowledge, neither site demands a Ph.D. in navigating it. The emphasis is on the music. Free internet radio is key to the success of these sites, however, paid memberships are offered on both DI and Live 365. These memberships, Premium on DI and Premier on Live 365, are not costly but they do not give listeners much more access than they already have with the free service.
There are many free internet radio stations to choose from online so if you do not find what you are looking for with DI or Live 365, all is not lost. Still, they are worth taking a look at for hearing some of the best dance mixes around.