Does the “social radio” market — which features well-established players like Pandora and Last.fm — need another entrant? The gang behind Jango seem to think so. The site, which has been in beta for the past few months, opened up for full access Monday, and says it has 70,000 users already. Co-founder and CEO Dan Kaufman is the former CEO of Dash, a mobile-shopping startup that flamed out in 2001 (not that we should hold that against him, of course).
I have to say one thing about Jango.com: it’s pretty simple to use. When you hit the site you get a search box and a list of “stations.” You can choose a station, which is a pre-mixed selection of artists, or you can type in an artist’s name — at which point you are taken to a user page, without even having to sign up (you can create an account from the user page by just typing in your email and a password). My page is here. By choosing an artist’s name you effectively create a “station” based around them, which can made up solely of that artist, or artists that are similar. Jango suggests musicians and bands that it thinks you might like based on your choice, and then you get to choose from Jango’s list and add that artist to your station — or you can type in your own choice and add that. And that’s about it. You can click to buy a track through Amazon, and you can see who else is listening to a particular artist or station.
The site doesn’t have some things that Last.fm and Pandora do. It doesn’t have a widget, for example (like the one I have in my sidebar), although the company said that’s coming. But it is far easier to figure out and use than Last.fm, I think, which I find confusing and non-intuitive. And when it gets right down to it, one of the keys to such a site is the music recommendation part: in other words, how does it do in terms of suggesting related songs or artists you might want to listen to?
Like others, I’ve found Last.fm and Pandora to be sketchy on that front, particularly with some artists. Jango did not too badly with the few I gave it, although it remains to be seen how it performs over the long term. And when it comes to competing with Pandora at least, Jango has one killer feature: it’s available to Canadians, whereas Pandora is not — it cut off access to Canuck users earlier this year because it hadn’t acquired the appropriate licenses.