WE7 – Your Personalized Free Streaming Radio [UK Only]
WE7 is a new streaming radio service that’s just launched in the UK, with web and mobile apps that provides personalised playlists. The available content is the same as Spotify but without the bloated media player. Head on over to we7.com to start streaming now, or read on for the full review.
Even without creating a free account, you can head straight to the site and start streaming some music. Search for a specific tune to start creating your own personalized station (though obviously you’ll need to create a free account and sign in to save anything); or pick from one of the many pre-made playlist Stations.
When you’ve got something playing, hover over the song thumbnail to like or dislike it, and soon you’ll have a nice profile built up.
There’s also a number of promotional playlists, featuring artist commentary or bonus interviews, which is a nice touch.
Click on the My Music tab and hit play to start playing your personalised playlist of liked songs and recommendations. I can’t comment yet on how good the recommendations or match engine is, but initial impressions are good.
Obligatory Facebook integration is also present for those who wish to publish their music preferences to their timeline and let friends listen in.
The mobile apps do require login – but use your Facebook account for one-click setup. Like the online site, the mobile apps are simple and effective. With nice big artwork, and onscreen buttons for like, dislike and skip – it’s exactly what you’d expect a streaming radio app to be. iOS users will be happy to know it doesn’t stop playing when you sleep your iPhone either.
You can save music for offline playback – just hit the little download icon in the corner for any songs you like. I was under the impression this needed a paid plan to work, but not so it seems – I tested by switching into airplane mode and had already managed to download a good sized collection of the UK top 40 playlist. Of course, these are only playable through the app and aren’t actually added to your iTunes library.
Search and Stations functionality are also included in full, same as the online version; as is My Radio for your personalised station.
Grab the free mobile we7 app [No Longer Available].
What’s The Catch?
Free users can make 50 specific song requests per month. This doesn’t mean you can only play 50 songs – just 50 sprecific song searches. If you search for a song, then base a new radio on that, it counts as 1 credit. If you choose one of the promoted stations – like top 40 UK dance songs – it doesn’t count anything against your credits. You can skip songs in the playlist for free too, so 50 is proving to be more than enough for me. You get 50 more each month, but even if you use them all, you can still listen to unlimited streaming music.
The site itself is ad-supported typical banners and background ads, but as far as I can tell there aren’t any obvious in-stream sponsors, and I’ve had it on all day for the past few days. There are news reports and short self-promotional pieces, and the premium plans hint at “ad free listening” though, so perhaps it’s on the cards for the future once more advertisers are secured and a solid user base built.
Premium Plans & Comparisons To Spotify
There are two premium subscription plans available, with the £9.99/month plan giving you offline access. It’s exactly the same pricing and features structure as Spotify, in fact.
The only differentiating factor as far as I can see, but one which is definately in WE7’s favor – is that of online streaming (no app download necessary), and that you needn’t create an account if you just want to stick to set playlists. Spotify on the other hand has a comprehensive iTunes-eqsue application that you do need to download to access the service, and offers some additional features like the newly introduced Spotify plugins to enhance content.
If you want your music to just be music, and don’t fancy the hassle of offline software and yet another app that wants to be iTunes, then WE7 is spot on. Personally, I found the Spotify app to be utterly confusing with really poor quality playlists. The playlists on WE7 are varied, up to date and satisfying accurate – I’ve had top 80s hits fuelling me for a while now.
One Word Review: Awesome
I don’t think I’ve actually listed to real FM radio station for over 5 years now, but this is really just the final nail in the coffin. Yep, you heard me – real radio is dead. Free up the frequencies for mobile broadband, I say. WE7 is a fantastic free service and more than satisfies my need for noise in the background. UK users, I strongly encourage you to check it out now.
Let us know in the comments what you think.