It’s pretty incredible how much the music scene has changed over the past 10 years. I never listen to terrestrial radio anymore and I’ve since stopped reading print music magazines. Everything has gone digital. That includes the way we as consumers access new music and stay in-tune (pun intended, yes!) with the latest news. Smartphone applications are the best way to do this. Many of us have already embraced YouTube for music videos, SoundHound or Shazaam for music identification and lyrics, and Pandora, Spotify, or last.fm for music streaming. So instead of talking about those apps that we all already know and love, I wanted to quickly note a couple other iPhone apps that music lovers might enjoy.
Have you ever tried browsing in Ticketmaster and it takes forever to sift through the 90% garbage artists just to find the 10% that you are actually interested in? BandsinTown is a neat little app that uses your location and musical taste to inform you of upcoming shows. You can type in your favorite artists or let the machine do the work. It scans your phone’s library as well as the artists that you’ve added and liked on Pandora and last.fm to determine your favorite genres. Just from using it for a few months, it doesn’t seem to miss a beat (pun intended again, yes!). It even sends me emails when bands announce they will be visiting in case I forget to sign into the app. Very useful for concert-goers!
I think YouTube has been intimidating to some people who don’t want to maintain a full channel or aren’t familiar with the backend settings to control privacy. Not to mention the “famous” vloggers who you are up against. However, YouTube did pave the way for amateur uploads. Now we have platforms for all media. Instagram for instant photos. Viddy for quick video files. And SoundCloud for audio clips. This is a great route for musicians getting started to upload their work, whether rough version or final mixdowns, and share with followers. I like that it allows users to search by topic so you can find new music that would be extremely difficult to find if done through random surfing on the web. Of course, professional musicians have taken hold of the app too so you can get a first glimpse of artists’ work before it is leaked in other outlets.
If you are big into performances, then you probably have heard of Ustream. Ustream is an open community video streaming platform. Download, go in and wander around. You’re going to find a plethora of videos ranging in all sorts of styles and topics. The key to this app is that all the videos are live. You’ll find live sporting events, speeches and lectures, and news segments. Or if you are like me, you are looking for live music shows. You can search through the music folder to see what’s hot or do a manual search and find artists you might like. This is a great channel for rising stars to let their online followers who aren’t local watch them in action. The app also has an “upcoming” tab so you can plan out your activity and don’t have to rely on the live action at hand. Surprisingly, the quality is pretty decent. Our grandparents who watched “Wide World of Sports” would never believe this live streaming technology!
I live in Albany, NY. Not a very big area. And I come from Utica, NY. An even smaller area. The musical range on the radio doesn’t span too far. Mostly top 40 and current music. Maybe a few classic rock and oldies, but that’s about it. So if you are a small town kid with big city taste, try this app. Rad.io (there are similar apps like this out there but I prefer this one) is an online, commercial-free radio station aggregator. It allows you to find radio stations from across the globe. You can search by city, by genre or by artist and start jamming or relaxing to your music of choice. You can save your favorite stations, let it play as you browse your phone, or set it as an alarm. You can even set it on sleep mode so it turns off after you’ve gone to bed – I set mine to a chillout station from Paris, France as I fall asleep. Zzzzz.
YouTube remains a great avenue to find new music, but I have a couple complaints. The first is that you have to constantly be in the app. I can’t browse my phone while listening to YouTube tracks. That’s a major annoyance. The second is that some videos are custom to YouTube and you can’t seem to find them anywhere else. Perhaps live versions from a concert or maybe amateur artist’s tracks who never released a studio album or never uploaded on any other online channel. Here is where MediaBurner saves lives. Download the app and then it turns into a medium for YouTube videos. Search for your video and then it gives you the option to play or download. If you download, you can share the video, save the video to your phone’s library, or extract the audio and save the track. The only catch is that is costs money. Around $2 for each save. But most people these days pay a dollar or two for an iTunes song anyway so I think it’s a fair deal if there is a performance you really want.
So there you have it, five great iPhone music apps that you might not be currently using. Let me know if you have feedback on the above five or if there are other ones out there that I should know about!