In the future, streaming radio stations will be so sophisticated that they'll know based on all sorts of factors exactly what it is you want to listen to. We're not quite there yet, but Rdio — our favourite streaming radio service — has a new personalised radio feature, which takes a bold step in that direction.
The new stations are cheekily named after you: Mario FM, Luke FM, Kyle FM, Brian FM, etc. They're automatic radio stations that simply play music you like. You don't need to enter an artist, genre, or anything — you just press play and the station spins the jams it thinks will make your butt move (or not move). Just now, for example, I turned I hit play, and Mario FM started playing Mission of Burma, which is indeed a band I like. It's a band I quite like, in fact. According to Rdio, there's no magic behind what that first song it chooses is. It just crunches the data and serves up a song.
And where does that data come from? The engine firing under the hood will sound familiar, but its implementation is slightly more sophisticated than what you're used to. The new stations use two forms of information to generate playback specially tailored to you: Your listening history within Rdio, and the rich library of data from music information clearinghouse The Echo Nest.
According to Rdio, listening history includes everything from what you play to what you put in lists to what you give the thumbs-up to. The information from The Echo Nest, then, allows Rdio to classify your likes and dislikes into different categories, which they use to generate more music for you to listen to.
Google Play Music All Access launched a simpler autoplay feature earlier this year, and while the addition of a lazy-bones option is a welcome addition to Rdio, what's most exciting about this technology is where it might go down the line. What if your radio got to know your habits on an hour-by-hour basis? Or what if it could tell based on the weather outside what you want to hear? That might be a little creepy, but the listening experience would be unparalleled.