New sites feature personalized ways to find and enjoy music.

Music on the Web has advanced far beyond the old Internet radio days of tinny tunes and dropped signals. Some users have quit buying music and now use it exclusively.

The new music sites may offer MP3 purchases. Still, they’re mainly for listening and embrace a concept called “personal music.” Big plus: They’re free, but require registration for full use.

Internet radio can be like commercial radio. Programmers choose your tunes. The stations specialize in musical genres, but that’s your only choice. There are thousands of sites.

The personal-music sites mimic the way we listen to tunes on our MP3 players. That means the freedom to choose our own music, by the song. We create and save playlists.

Playlists have become a cultural phenom. Listeners trade them and post them to the sites. There are competitions to see whose playlist is most popular. They are as individual as the listener.

Don’t care about playlists? The sites handle independent decisions in different ways.

Some use the Internet radio model. You type in an artist and it creates a “personal radio station” playing that music. Here things get sophisticated. The site’s database also offers music similar to your request.

A request for Bob Dylan also turns up music by Harry Chapin and on and on, plunging you deeper into the folk-acoustic realm.

Another way is to call up single songs. Songza.fm does this. You can search on any artist or band or genre. You then have your choice of a list of tunes. You can play them in one at a time or as a list. Save the lists you like best for return visits. This is nice if you want to stay with the same artist.

By the way, these are not only pop music sites. They offer classical and obscure genres such as Finnish folk music.

The result of these systems is it’s easy to find new music, especially in the sites that are relational.

MUSIC ON THE WEB

http://radio.songza.com Creates playlists from music you specify, offers YouTube videos where available.

sets.songza.com Choose playlist sets of 12 tunes created by artists for their listeners.

www.jango.com Choose by artist or labels or pick an Internet radio station.

www.pandora.com The granddaddy of music sites, type in the artist, song or composer and it creates a radio station of it and music like it. Nice plus: album notes from the Music Genome Project.

www.last.fm/music Tell them the music you like, and they will play it and offer similar new music.

www.di.fm Digitally imported; creates instant playlists of your favorites, chosen by genre.

Jim Hillibish writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact him at jim.hillibish@cantonrep.com.