"Somewhere between the perfectly curated iPod playlist—which, let's face it, can be a pain in the ass to create—and the unwelcome randomness of radio lies the new Slacker music service. After collecting your preferences, the aptly named outfit does the heavy lifting for you, predicting other tunes you'd appreciate to create a "station" just for you. Don't like what you hear? You can skip up to six unwanted songs per hour (or you can spend $7.50 a month and pass over as many as you want). A Web-only version went beta earlier this month, but a nicely designed handheld device—features include Wi-Fi, a four-inch video screen, and a car kit—is on its way this summer. Thanks to that wireless capability, it'll keep adding new choices and constantly update itself based on your preferences: Skip the Whitesnake tune that brings back all those bad memories once and you should be spared similar torment in the future. Naturally, anything this custom-tailored would need to have quite a library, and the service delivers. It's partnered with three of the world's top music companies (Sony/BMG, Universal, and Warner) in addition to several indie labels, so it's already primed with two million songs. Sounds like the hardest-working slacker in the business."
What intrigues me about all of this is how to actually get people to use services like this--will my short posts do it? The more I podcast my favorite radio shows, and the closer I get to filling my 80GB iPod, the more I realize that I really would just love someone else to help me through a few hours of music programming. No one loves supervising a cinematic moment with tunes more than me, but some good surprises are arriving less and less frequently, and now options exist to help when KCRW is broadcasting depressing news. Listen up, yo.