Monday, March 24, 2008

Online Music

I am a semi-audiophile. I listen to music constantly in my room and car, but I don't have an iPod or other portable music player, so I'm not one of those people who walks around lost in their own aural world. I'm pretty close though, because I'm normally humming or singing to myself, even if it's only in my head. So anyways, I thought I would share a few of my favorite places to discover and listen to music online.

Aurgasm is where I find a whole lot of amazing music from around the world. With the heading, "Your favorite music you've never heard," Aurgasm is a very simple and very functional MP3 blog. The author, Paul Irish, writes a quick paragraph summarizing the style of the artist he's featuring and why he likes them, where he heard about them, etc., and then posts one or two downloadable songs from them, or occasionally a link to a music video or the like. He also has an embedded music player that scrolls with the page and lets you play all the songs he posts directly from his site. The cool thing is, it's all completely legal and above-board. I was reading at a time when he had some trouble with the RIAA, but there were only a couple of small things he was doing wrong, and since then and as a result has made sure that he has permission from all the artists to use their songs or that they're in the public sphere. He also has always included a link to buy the CD the songs are from. I have bought a CD or two from artists I was exposed to on his site, and have definitely listened many times to a lot of the tracks I have downloaded from Aurgasm.

A recent discovery for me is Afternoon Delight, and it's co-part, Bedtime Tunes. Afternoon delight is updated daily, Bedtime Tunes nightly, and they post single songs that sort of fit in with each site, at least in terms of tempo. Afternoon Delight's songs are more upbeat, while Bedtime Tunes' are slower. These sites are less eclectic than Aurgasm and have more popular music that I have heard before, but have still exposed me to some previously-unheard music. I can't really speak for their legality, because they are pretty no frills: while the sites are very functional and well-designed, they're just a list of songs with a music player up top, and I wasn't able to find even an "About Us" section or the like. I assume if you just listen, then you'll be fine whether they're pirating or not, but both sites do allow you to download the music.

Then, of course, there's Purevolume. This site is a very useful tool for bands to self-promote, and because each band is responsible for the content they want to upload, you can listen and download without fear of an RIAA attorney kicking in your door with a subpoena taped to the bottom of his boot. Another very useful feature is the ability to create listener profiles and keep up with your favorite bands and events going on near your location. Purevolume will show you a list of shows going on in your area in the near future involving any of the artists registered on their site, as well as letting you interact with artists through their profile pages and create playlists in their music player. Your profile page also includes a Purevolume blog, favorites list, photo album and friends list, among other things, as well as keeping a running list of updates your favorite artists make. This site is more for local bands, but because it's the Internet (i.e., global), local bands from all over the world become your local bands as well, and I have spent many an hour surfing the Internet with my Purevolume playlist running in the background.

The last site I'll discuss is yet another fairly recent find for me. Songza, self-described as "the music search engine and internet jukebox," is a very simple online music player that just lets you search for any song or artist and then listen to them. You can't download anything, but it has an extensive library to search through, and even though it's claim that "
Songza lets you listen to any song or band" is stretching it a bit (I've had a few searches bring up no results or stuff completely different than what I wanted), in most cases I've been able to find what I want. You also have the ability to share songs through email, embedding them in your own site, linking to it or Twittering it, as well as create playlists and rate songs. Songza also recommends songs you might like based on what you are listening too. I haven't created an account, so I'm not sure what all it allows you to do, but I do know that an account will let you save your playlists, which lets you listen to them on other computers or keep them after clearing your cookies and such.

These four sites are the ones I frequent, but obviously, there are many, many others. Does anyone have any music sites they're partial too, or have tried out and enjoy? I know a lot of people use Pandora, but I haven't really checked it out yet, so if anyone uses that, you might tell us what you think. I didn't even broach the subject of online radio, so there's still a lot out there.


christopher said...

There is a site, that is like a music search engine, that will search the internet for stream-able music for you to listen to.

Unfortunately, it was recently acquired by Myspace, so it is blocked on Harding's network.