LAST UPDATED: June 27th, 2019
Slacker Radio is an Internet radio service that allows users to create and share customized music stations with friends and strangers online. In 2011, Slacker CEO Jim Cady said that Slacker had 26 million listeners, 13 million songs, more than 200 curated stations, and licensing deals with major labels. The company’s catchphrase is “be the ultimate slacker,” presumably with a great soundtrack.
Slacker's offerings are extensive and multi-tiered:
- Slacker offers three listening packages: Basic, which is free, Radio Plus, which is $3.99 a month, and Premium, which is $9.99 a month.
- The Slacker Basic plan lets users listen for free on virtually any device, choose from hundreds of curated radio stations, skip up to six songs per hour, and create their own stations from Slacker's extensive library.
- The Slacker Radio Plus plan includes all the benefits of the Free plan, in addition to ad-free listening, unlimited skips, and offline stations for listening that doesn't usurp phone data. The Radio Plus plan does not include offline playlists or albums.
- The Slacker Premium plan includes all the benefits of the Radio Plus plan, in addition to custom playlists, offline playlists and albums, and on-demand playing for all songs and albums available on the website.
- Slacker offers stations curated by professional DJs according to genre, specialty, and artist. Users may also build their own stations from scratch, with a single artist seed.
- Slacker offers a number of features to shape listening experiences. Users can Upvote ("heart") or Downvote ("ban") a song to ensure it plays more often or never at all. Upvoting a song will automatically add it to a playlist called "Your Songs" and alter the "Today on Slacker Radio" section accordingly on the main page. Slacker also offers a feature called "Fine Tuning," which allows users to input preferences for the effects of popular songs, newer songs, favorite songs, and familiar artists when building a curated station.
- While listening, users may also share songs or stations across different social media accounts.
- Selecting an artist will bring users to the artist page-which includes biographical information-and generate suggestions for stations that feature them.
- Slacker offers mobile apps on iPhone, iPod touch, WebOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile 6, Windows Phone 7/8, and Windows 8/RT. These applications all stream music over data or WiFi connections. The mobile apps include features like station creation, access to recently played stations, fine-tune options, artist biographies, photos, album art, and music reviews.
- The Slacker music service includes a number of news stations with top-of-the-hour updates, like ABC News and ESPN. Slacker also offers weather updates.
- Slacker does not offer a free trial period for either paid subscription package, nor does it offer refunds.
- In the Basic plan, Slacker offers only 6 skips per station. The number of skips remaining is displayed beneath the skip button.
- Not all settings in the Fine Tuning feature are available without a Premium subscription.
- Lyrics are only available to subscribers.
- Users cannot fast forward, rewind, or record while listening to music, subscription or not.
- While playing, Slacker does not display lyrics, biographical information, or provide links for users to purchase music from other vendors.
- Users cannot control play with their keyboards.
- Slacker is available in English only. Compared to other streaming services, its global impact is extremely limited. This means that the music available is also limited to mostly English and American music.
- Slacker does not offer an option to censor explicit lyrics.
- Slacker once released a clunky personal radio device, but had to discontinue it as smartphones eventually took over the personal streaming market.
- Slacker streams music at 128 kbps, which is low compared to the high quality of 320 kbps.
The Bottom Line
Since its creation in 2007, Slacker has developed a fairly strong and dedicated following of radio aficionados. It continues to grow, but its popularity is mitigated by the subscription price and the success of other music streaming giants, like SoundCloud, Pandora, and Spotify. Aside from the Fine Tuning feature, Slacker offers little to set it apart from the competition. It is a good option for anyone willing to invest a little effort-and a little money-in discovering new music, but other music services are better suited to the average listener.
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