Break free from the constraints of the music-streaming algorithm.
By Justin Pot | Published Apr 26, 2022 8:00 AM
I listened to a lot of sad music during the pandemic, which taught Spotify’s algorithm that I like sad music. The result: a never-ending stream of depressing indie songs. I was stuck in an algorithmic rut. That changed when I started searching for online radio stations DJed by actual human people.
Algorithms are smart but they’re also kind of stupid. They don’t know who you want to be, or who you might become—they only know who you were. They see your past behavior as indicative of your future preferences. Human DJs don’t do that. The good ones just play whatever they feel like, which exposes you to artists and songs no automated system would even consider.
Don’t get me wrong—I love melancholy indie songs. But there’s more to me. I contain multitudes. That’s why I try to get out of my algorithmic bubble and listen to something new.
Algorithmic playlists aren’t all bad—we’ve talked about finding the best Spotify playlists, for example, and the results can be great. But there’s something about a good radio station that even the best automated playlist can’t give you. A few things stand out:
Once you find a station, you can stream it in your browser or, if you prefer, ask your smart speaker to stream it for you. Some stations offer apps you can install on your phone—I tend to prefer just using the browser.
By now, you’re probably wondering how to even find radio stations online. There are all kinds of services for this, but I can recommend five that worked for me.
There are other sites you could use as starting points, but these are my favorites. While I’m here, though, there are a few specific stations I want to highlight:
You’re not here for my radio station recommendations, though—the point is to find your own. But I do hope the tips and resources I’ve provided have given you a solid starting point and that you find a few stations that pull you out of whatever algorithmic rut you might find yourself in.
Stick it to those fancy recommendation algorithms and do it yourself.
Productivity studies suggest you can boost your output with the right music.
Wake up! Without your phone—we’ll help you do that break up.
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