Photography by Daveybot.
Do you like to discover new music? Sure you do, we all do. Nobody knows how long you can still go on with the same old playlists, and there’s new exciting stuff out there every day.
The internet has had some significant development in the area of music reccomendation services – with the advent of social media and Web 2.0, it’s never been easier or more fun. Here are 17 places I like to hunt for new music.
Yes, I buy my music legally off iTunes. And iTunes has a great “Just For You” box that shows music you might like based on what you’ve bought. Probably the most costly way to get precise recommendations, but always worth a look.
MusicIP.com is not only our revered and dearly beloved sponsor, but also has a nice feature called “Playground”, that let’s you explore albums in a cloud style and see related albums. Not all tracks found are playable, but it’s still a nice doodle to explore.
This is one of the greatest tools I’ve ever seen. It works similar to MusicIP, and shows intricate relations between tracks and artists in a very cool, “plasma” interface. Seeing is believing. Unfortunately, you cannot listen to tracks here, but you can directly buy albums off Amazon.
When music goes Web 2.0, you’re talking Last.fm. Formerly Audioscrobbler, this site has loads of information on artists, concerts and tracks, and is basically like a Wikipedia for music. You have to download software to explore music, which is a downside to me, but it’s recommendations are very good indeed. You can tag music and share your likes, the works.
My personal favorite, and what I use, is iLike. It’s simpler and nicer than Last.fm, and you can link it up directly to your iTunes, which is great, because it uses your play counts to predict music – unlike last.fm, where predictions are based only on what you listen to after registering. iLike also has a fun music quiz (similar to the iPod Music Quiz) and lets you share your playlists. The plugin gives you a little info tray in iTunes, showing you who else in the world is listening to the same thing right now. Very cool.
6. Pandora- US only
I used to love using Pandora until it became unavailable to me here in Switzerland. But since many of you are US citizens, you can enjoy having a custom built radio station with a really nice interface. You can even save your stations and customize them, tell the station which songs you like, which ones you didn’t, and it learns adaptively.
52 Bands is a b5media Music blog that presents a new upcoming artist every week and follows them for 7 days. Brilliant idea, and a good way to get the recommendations at a gentle pace, calmly introducing you to new artists every week, all year round. This one’s for your RSS reader.
Lala is like iTunes online. While the site offers you a service to sync your music online (and while the legalities of this differ depending on where you live), the better part of this site is that you can listen to music that’s hot right now, and read reviews by other users. Nothing too special, but why I chose it was because of it’s impeccable sound quality on most tracks.
9. Regular CD Swap
- Grab a friend
- Give him an empty CD
- Tell him to put his honestly favorite tracks on there
- Do the same for him
- Wash, Rinse, Repeat
There are manual lo-tech ways, too .
This site is great for seeing what others think of your music, and seeing what music others like most. My favorite thing about this site is it’s simple, straight-forward design, it’s speed and the “New Releases” list on the front page.
Amazon has entered the digital music retail business and is starting to become serious competition for Apple. The main page provides iTunes-like recommendations and ratings with the added benefit of being able to buy the tracks right away. Especially their featured holiday songs list made me stick around here.
Yes, you heard me right, Wikipedia. What I like about Wikipedia is that it provides all the usual encyclopedic information about any song, artist or album but additionally features a lot of information about ratings and thanks to all the linking between artists happening there, you’ll find yourself jumping from page to page, discovering relationships between artists you hadn’t know. I discovered that John Frusciante from The Red Hot Chili Peppers had a solo project only through Wikipedia’s article on Frusciante.
AllMusic takes a slightly different approach: It’s focus is mainly on genres, and this is especially useful if you just want to find new artists from a specific genre. I even discovered new genres. Ever heard of Alternative Country Rock?
OkayPlayer is another music blog that covers a select bunch of off-beat artists you might like. The blog is well-written, and the selection of artists covered is bound to hold something for everyone.
MyStrands is another social Web 2.0 style site with a plugin that’ll track what you listen to. I recommend this site to all indie fans out there, because from what I’ve seen here, most of the crowd seems to listen to a lot of Indie music, considering that the top artists include Modest Mouse, Nickel Creek and Blur.
This site is amazing – if you like del.icio.us, you’ll like UpTo11.net, due to it’s simplistic design, and it’s concept of “bookmarking” music. You can share, tag, discover and get direct recommendations based on what you’ve bookmarked. Brilliantly simple.
Again for the Indie fans, stage.fm is like last.fm for the small-time artists that don’t run under a major label. Frankly, if your a music freak, and think you’ve seen it all, this place will unravel gems you wish you’d known a long time ago.
Social.fm is yet another FM-site that let’s you create playlists and share those with friends. It’s like a CD swap high-tech version. And the best part about it: The iTunes Coverflow-style navigation. This place gets down to business. You land on the front page, and immediately a random playlist is shown above that you can browse and play back.
Songza is more an experiment in user interface rather than a real recommendation site, but it makes it pure joy to listen to any song, from any artist. The quality is ok, and the top-song list on the front page may hold a good piece once in a while. Worth looking at.
So there you go, The Good Musician’s massive recommendation source list that should keep you covered for a while to come. And remember: Stealing music is an offense & crime!
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