Many designers feel more creative when there are tunes playing, and with the rise and rise of internet radio a few choice sites have popped up for designers to get their music fix – all without leaving the comfort of their designers chair. I’m no exception – here are a few web2.0 music apps that I’ve had kicking around my bookmarks for a while that are well worth checking out. Sit back, put on the ear phones and chill.
Formerly audioscrobbler – Last.fm offers an excellent library of music and the ability to network with other users through one of the leading social networking sites for music nerds. There is a great little plugin for itunes integration with last.fm that duplicates the sort of functionality of pandora, all from a desktop application. This scrobbles your current listening to the site and thus connects you with actual people who are likely to have similar tastes.
Musicovery is an interesting service that is trying to quantify certain music with moods. So if you are for example in a Happy Mood it may suggests songs such as Huey Lewis and the News – and if you are feeling glum, maybe something more slit your wrists esq. Perhaps not a great idea if you are on the verge of a breakdown. Apart from that obvious caveat, the service also has a quite genius Itunes plugin for Mac OS (only) – which creates new playlists in a similar way to Genius for Itunes – except for your mood.
In much the same way as Just Hear It does, Jogli utilises YouTube videos as a source for audio. Allowing you to then signup, login and save the playlists. A simple concept that works really well, especially if you know what you want to hear. If on the other hand you enjoy getting suggestions and sourcing new sounds, its probably not for you.
Coming out of the labs of The Music Genome Project – Pandora allows you to listen to internet radio streamed on your desktop – the great thing about it is that its prediction service offers a “like this – try this” offering, and actually suggests new music within similar genres to the listener. Unfortunately outside the US, the service is locked down due to copyright issues. But as with most things online, where there’s a will – there’s a way.
As well as being a Myspace esq social network – Deezer allows you to play preselected internet radio tracks via your browser. They have selected a variety of tracks that are within a genre, and allow you to play it online. In addition to that, Deezer also lets you add your own MP3’s to its system and if you are a musician, there is also an option to set yourself up as a an artist. It’s selection of tracks is however relatively limited, but seem to be adding fresh content regularly.
In a nutshell, blipfm is a Twitter service for music lovers. Whilst Twitter allows you to post what you are doing- blip allows you to post what you are listening to, and is a perfect compliment to the Twitter service for music lovers.
Just Hear It
Just hear it is a flash based web application that literally allows you to search for any song in the world. Whilst the interface is impressive, the responsiveness of the service for me at time of writing this post – was not. I searched for some Radiohead tracks and it took a couple of minutes to come back with anything. It uses the Youtube API (amongst other services) heavily to find videos with music content, and then in turn stream via its interface. The service is in private beta, and members gain the advantage of creating playlists of their content. Perhaps when its released to the public it will perform better.
Imeem lets you start playing your chosen tracks immediately without actually signing up to anything, which is a nice touch if you want to listen to just one particular track. Although it does play other tracks from the same artist once they are finished. Signing in does give you access to creating your own playlists, that you can share and embed with friends, and it makes a bold claim that it is the largest social network for music lovers on the web.
Jango offer an extremely easy to use interface for listening to music through the browser. Simply type your artist in away she goes. As with Imeem, listening to tracks is available without much hassle, although in order to save your favourite stations you do have to signup. Streaming was smooth, and some of the social features are similar to some of the other services mentioned. Jango allows users to subscribe to each others stations, which provides you with a good chance of finding like on like artists. This seems to be quite accurate with it offering me “Smashing Pumpkins” after listening to “Radiohead” – two of my own favourite artists. The site is funded via advertising and offers the opportunity to purchase via Amazon or Itunes.
The Hype Machine
I love this site. The Hype Machine is traditional blog, turned into a source of new audio, and artists. Created by Anthony Volodkin it is offers aggregated content from various mp3 blogs from around the web and offers a fresh daily dose of new sounds to tantalise your auditory taste buds. I regularly stop by and have a listen to the stuff on the popular page, and often link off to Itunes to purchase. It basically is a delicious for music – and delicious it is. If you are music blogger discovery new talent, then the Hype Machine is where you should be aggregating to- to gain further traffic.
Maestro Fm offer more social playlist sharing features with their offering. You can perform a wide variety of tasks including getting recommended playlists as you listen, finding playlists for your favorite artists and the social rating of your playlists. Keep up the good works guys, as the service develops Maestro I’m sure will gain further traction amongst music lovers.
If any of you used to use WinAmp, you will undoubtadly have come across shoutcast in the past. Nullsoft initially developed shoutcast as a way for artists to broadcast live streaming files over the web at a fraction of the cost than traditional am / fm radios, and the service has taken off phenomenally now hosting over 20,000+ internet radio stations. You can easily logon to the shoutcast site, and listen to any internet radiostation that tickles your fancy. Some media players use Shoutcast’s servers inside their hardware to offer internet radio – and I personally have found a few in this way via my Squeezebox. Sometimes being a bit of an insomniac – Soma.fm is one particular station that I listen to before drifting off to sleep, all streamed via Shoutcast. Well worth a look if you like to chill out whilst designing.
Last, but certainly not least, Spotify offer a paid subscription model and a freebie one. The swedsih startup offers a downloadable desktop client for connecting to their library of music, which is advertising funded. It is officially available for MacOSX and Windows, however under Linux – you can run the program under Wine. Their service having launched at the start of x has secured deals with major record companies including Universal Music Group, EMI Music, Warner Music Group and Sony BMG – which gives it access to quite a selection of music. They also have built in scrobbling so Last.fm users will be happy bunnies – Definitely one to checkout if you are a music junkie.
Songbird – An open source music player
Skreemr – Mp3 Search engine
Midomi – interesting search engine – which recognises songs via humming or singing them
Lala – over six million songs for your listening pleasure
GrooveShark – another worthy internet jukebox
Songza – Music search engine
iLike – Plugin for Itunes to identify similar musical taste
I’ve also put together a post on great design music you know, and design music you don’t. If you are stuck for new sounds, might be worth checking out as well.