Sunday, August 19, 2007

Thing 37: Music to our ears

Not everyone likes the same music and sometimes we get tired of the same old stuff all the time. So let's look at a few online ways to open a few musical doors and find some new tunes. Most of our users have introduced us to Launchcast which functions somewhat like a traditional radio station or like a big online jukebox, playing most songs you request, if they can get the rights to it.

I've found us 2 services for expanding our musical horizons. Both are online radio stations but we influence the programing by telling them what we like. They are Pandora and LastFM. With both you can input your favorite music and listen to something like it but different. Depending on what you like you could find a lot of new tunes and artists or possibly none. Both also incorporate a social aspect so you could meet new friends who share your musical tastes.

Pandora - Really just an Internet Radio but with a slight twist. Uses a set of musical attributes, called the Music Genome Project, to pair your favorites with similar groups and tunes for your listening pleasure. Put in a musician or song title and they will build a station and start playing tunes, if you don't like a song tell them and they will offer something different. They will also track your ratings to fine tune your station. If you really like one you hear they provide links to Amazon or iTunes to go buy the Disc or just the song. Warning you could find yourself tempted to go buy a lot of new music. You will want to register so you can help them focus your station to your tastes. I could find a few bands but not a lot of new similar bands that I didn't already know however, but then I have kind of different taste in music from most. Pandora is very popular so it must work for many people quite well.

LastFM - LastFM is a bit more of a Web 2.0 product. They also have a much wider range of music available so people with a broader taste will find more. Again they give you a link to Amazon, though not iTunes, to buy the disc if you are interested. I really liked the fact I could embed a station I like in my web page. I also appreciate that it doesn't autoplay when someone visits the page. They can chose to check out my taste in music or not but they won't be driven away from visiting again if they don't share my musical taste. Another way to use this is that if you download their client it will share the titles and bands in your music library in something they call "Scrobbling". Basically, when you listen to something they count that toward the popularity of bands. Since I don't have much music on my computer I'm not a great candidate for Scrobbling but I was interested to see that some of the new bands I found are getting Scrobbled a lot. Don't confuse Scrobbling with sharing your music, here you only share the titles and artist names. If has the tune they can easily hear them if not they might have a harder time hecking the tune out. Also you can find upcoming concerts in your area or where your favorite band is playing and when.

Here's one Last FM station I created for the band Lunasa, not my fav but not bad either. They are a traditional celtic group.

With both online stations you can find new bands, check out new tunes and tune into another kind of social network. You might even find someone who shares your taste in music. And you will certainly find some new music.

So this week's Discovery Exercise:

1. Go to either online station and plug in your favorite band, or song.

2. Listen and see if you find any new bands you might have not heard of but like the way they sound.

3. Of course write about it in your blog!