Tunerec is an interesting new music service that automatically records songs from about 300 Internet radio stations for you, tags them, and makes them available for streaming through an iTunes-like web interface. Tunerec, which is based in Sweden, also features some social networking functions, including the ability to follow other users and share playlists with your friends. As the music has to be 'recorded' first, it takes a while for your playlist to be populated and the early selections can be rather quirky, but a bit of patience will ultimately be rewarded.
How exactly the back-end of the service works is a bit of a mystery, as the company is not exactly forthcoming with information beyond the bare basics. According to this article in a Swedish newspaper, Tunerec has worked out an agreement with the Swedish songwriters association STIM and the musicians (or at least the labels) get paid for every every song played on the service. Tunerec is monetized through advertising, and its CEO, Sven Boström, expects the service to be profitable as early as next year. Tunerec is also planning to introduce a paid version without advertising soon.
While it takes a while for Tunerec to fill up your database with songs (we assume that for legal reasons Tunrec has to at least pretend to 'record' these songs from publically available sources), the results are actually worth the wait. If you sign up today, make sure to come back tomorrow, as you initially start out with only a few songs in your library.
We liked Tunerec's interface, including the artist pages and cover art, and the sound quality, but one feature we did miss was the ability to browse through your library without having to resort to search.
If you are in Europe, Spotify is still a better alternative to Tunerec (and sadly still not available in the U.S. or Canada), but if you are in a country where Spotify is not available, Tunerec is definitely worth a try. It is supposed to be in closed beta right now, but we signed up and got an invite within a minute.