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Jango: refreshingly simple online radio

I recently discovered Jango, another entrant into the crowded world of online radio. A clear mission and simple interface make it a winner.

When I first read about Jango in an alumni update from my alma mater (go Ephs), my first thought was "how many more streaming online music services does the world need?" We've already got, Pandora, Slacker, iLike, Imeem, Ezmo...can I stop now?

But Jango offers a refreshingly clear and simple take on the theme. As with many of these services, you start by entering a favorite artist's name...and a song starts playing. You don't need to sign in, download any software, invite friends, choose other favorite artists, or let anything connect to your music library.

With Jango, the music player's always at the top of the screen. Screenshot

Like and Pandora, Jango immediately creates a personalized radio station with songs by similar artists--I picked Led Zeppelin because they've been in the news so much lately, and it immediately suggested guitar-oriented classic rock bands like Black Sabbath, AC/DC, and Pink Floyd. But unlike the case with many of these other services, it's super easy to tailor your station--if you don't want to hear a particular artist, click the trash can icon; if you hate a particular song, rate it with a sad face and it'll never play again; if you want to add another main artist around which the station will be built, click "edit station", then enter the name of the artist.

I added Ennio Morricone to see if I could throw it off, but it cleverly suggested Luis Bacalov and Angelo Badalamente, two other soundtrack composers in the same vein. (No Nino Rota, though.) When I added Pink Floyd, it suggested new age stalwart Vangelis, but it was easy to eliminate him by clicking the trash can.

There's a social-networking aspect to the site--isn't there always?--but once again the service offers a clear set of choices in an interface anybody could figure out. You can find people who have a certain favorite band, listen to their customized radio station, invite them to be your friend, send quick messages to friends, and so on. But the social aspect is secondary to the music: the interface always guides you back to artist names (such as "people who like the artist you're listening to now also like...."), and the player's always in the upper-right hand corner, and it's always playing a song (unless you pause it).

Clear mission, simple interface, lots of ways to discover new tunes. Jango's worth a visit.