Online Music – Now What?

Posted by Brian Paris on Jan 9, 2009 in Blog |

So yesterday I talked about where I buy music online. With millions of choices available from these online stores, the question becomes where do you find the good stuff? I don’t want to have to listen to 1000 songs before I find something that interest me. So how do you find your new music? Here are a few of my favorite ways of keeping up.

Pandora: Love this application. You put in artist that you like and it creates a radio station that plays music similar to what you choose. There is some complex algorithms involved to determine what songs sound similar to what you like. Once it makes a choice you can mark whether or not you like the new song. Pandora remembers those choices and helps refine the station to your taste. I have found a lot of interesting new artist this way. They also have a wonderful app for the iPhone that makes it easy to carry around. I used to use Pandora most of the time, but since I am outside the US I am not able to use their service.

last.fm: This is similar to Pandora but with a different flair. Instead of analyzing the musical qualities of the songs like Pandora, last.fm makes choices based on what similar users to you like. This gives you a lot of variation, but with a good chance that you will like all that you hear. Some argue that you might get stuck in the same rut of popularity based choices. I still find enough new music that it isn’t really a problem for me. Both have their pluses so why not try both. Only question that remains is what is traditional radio going to do?

Live365: One thing traditional radio is doing is getting online. Live365 allows not just radio stations, but anyone to put together a radio station of your own. You can either run it live off of your computer, or set up playlist of songs that are stored on their server. I am working on setting one of these up myself. I have always wanted my own station and Live365 allows me to do just that. There is a fee involved. Not much if you just want a small stream (with their ads), but it gets rather expensive when if you want to set up your own for profit station. Good thing about using their service is that they take care of paying all of the licensing fees for playing the music. That saves a lot of hassle for the individual DJ who just wants his music heard. The DJs are what make this such a great resource. They are usually just everyday people who are just really into their music. You get away from the Top 40 stuff that you hear over the airwaves and get into some unique areas. There are genres for every interest and stations that fill every niche that you can think of. They have a pretty good rating system so that you can easily sort out the best of the bunch. Or just listen to something new.

Pitchfork: This website reviews records. Lots and lots of records. It is a good place to catch up on what is going on in the indie music industry. I don’t necessarily agree with what I read, but it at least gives me some idea of what the kids are talking about these days.

There are also the traditional magazines that have online versions: Rolling Stone, Blender, Filter, and others. All give you a good place to find something new.

Or you could just check out what your friends are listening to. Most will probably have a MySpace of Facebook account that will list what they like. Maybe you could even get offline and head over to their place and have a listening party.

Even with all of these online resources, there probably isn’t any better way to find new music than to go out an see it live. So, go out and see a show. Get there early to see the opening bands, and you might just find a new favorite.

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