Fucking ecstatic does not begin to adequately describe how happy I am that the dark period of music socialization is over. And in case you aren’t sure the time frame I’m speaking of, it’s the period in which people had to really work in order to discover and share new music by listening to FM radio, buying overpriced albums at a retail store or my *least* favorite, speaking to a group of self important douchebag music snobs. None of those options were ideal for the sake of discovery, but they were even worse for the sake of sharing.
Technology has ushered in so many new (legal) ways to socialize about music, none of which involve an abundance of black t-shirts or $5 covers at the door.
If you’ve ever had the urge to communicate solely through notes and lyrics, then blip.fm will become an addiction. It’s by far my favorite new way to socialize about music. Blip.fm is a service that allows you to listen to virtually any song by “blipping” it to your own personal stream — similar to Twitter. Also like Twitter, each song you blip is accompanied by an optional 150-character message. Users “listen” or “follow” other people’s blips, which are aggregated in real time to a custom feed that acts as a playlist. However, if you get tired of this playlist you can always navigate to someone else’s.
Smart Radio – Pandora / Last.fm / Slacker
Now a product of corporate marketing by the music industry, most Analog radio can’t be classified as “dumb” so much as it is the same tired handful of songs played over and over by a local dj who’s sole purpose is catering to the 13-year-old girls who call in every night with requests. The digital XM Radio provides more stations without ads but the navigation sucks (station 109 – BBC Dance 5 anyone?) and it has a monthly fee. The advent of “smart” radio stations like Pandora fixes those problems by allowing users to choose stations that can be tailored to sound like a specific artist or song. You also have the option of voting on songs within that station to alter the frequency that they are played. Slacker Radio improves upon this concept as does last.fm (which has more features).
Mobile Smart Radio
All of the smart radio services that were previously listed have free applications on the iPhone, Android-OS based phones and many others. If you’d rather not pay for digital radio, these apps might even be the reason to upgrade your phone and service plan.
Background music is nice, but not if you’re unable to identify who the artist is. Shazam for the iPhone is an application that can “tag” music as it’s played and provide links to the band’s web site, YouTube videos and even points you to online merchants selling the mp3. This is really nothing new in terms of innovation but now that smart phones are becoming the norm, it’s worth noting.
For some folks, the competition of hearing (and liking) new artists before the masses is still entertainment. That’s the logic behind The Sixty-One, a social music Web site allowing undiscovered artists to upload their songs for people to hear. After creating a free profile on the site, users then listen to said music and give it a “bump” if they like it. Songs with the most bumps hit a front page of sorts, which consists of other popular tracks. As a user, you start out with 99 points that are subtracted or added depending how the site is used. “Bumping a new artist costs 33 points, but listening to new artists also gains you points. If and of these artists gain in popularity you get points for that too,” [thewastedspace].
If talking/(writing) about music is your thing, then imeem is a full-featured social network devoted to music. This site has widgets to help you search for songs, to buy songs, to buy tickets, view tour schedules…pretty much anything you can think of this site has some version of it. Personally, I don’t use it but it seems to have tried to fill the void left by MySpace’s horrendous copyright policy involving undiscovered artists.