We got the beat
Sometimes I think of the younger me and try to fathom my reaction at hearing the next big thing in music is not only going to be smaller than cds, smaller than cassette tapes, smaller than mini-discs (remember those?) in fact, it's going to be virtually invisible AND you'll be able to get most of it for free. Basically I picture my little head exploding. I remember the heyday of Napster and the evenings lost in downloading euphoria. Truth be told, due to a phobia of losing any digital media I still have most of those songs, but it's becoming rapidly apparent that I won't have to worry about this much longer.
Since mp3's have taken over it's hard to imagine how much better things can get (or worse depending on how much you care about sound quality, but I digress). This next innovation has seemingly been happening without us even noticing it. What I'm talking about is accessing music via the cloud; this does a couple of important things, for one we're coming close to not having to worry about how much space we need on our mp3 players because we will pull what we need from the cloud, no more no less. Secondly we have been sharing more and more of our musical tastes and creations easier and faster than ever before. I can listen to a playlist that's being curated live by my friend in Istanbul and if i'm getting tired of that I can listen to any number of music blogs or sites to suit my fancy. Ladies and gentleman the future is now!
Here are a few streaming sites that have been rockin' our cubicles as of late:
8tracks offers users the ability to listen to and craft digital "mixtapes" and share them publicly or privately. This site is great for finding new music, and although not being able to skip more than two songs an hour seems like a disadvantage you'd be surprised at what you discover being forced to listen to tracks all the way through.
Soundcloud is an audio distribution platform which allows musicians to collaborate, promote and distribute their music. This site is great because artists will often let you download their tracks for free (and some fans take it upon themselves to do this for them as well, not that we're promoting that sort of thing!)
Designers.mx is a mixtape site not unlike 8tracks; however, they won't let just anyone in. To contribute to this site you must be a designer AND you must be invited, although you don't have to have an account to just listen. The music is only one part of the equation, mixes are also illustrated with "album art" designed by the designer who created it. The hope is to create a curated music and design masterpiece.
Stereomood allows users to listen to music based on how they feel by choosing from a growing list of mood tags. Users contribute by uploading tracks and tagging them with hopefully appropriate and sometimes curious moods such as "busy as a bee" and "feel like crying"....enter at your own risk.
Grooveshark is great for searching for and streaming music. Users can also create their own playlists and favourite tracks for later listening. This site is especially useful for listening to complete albums, much better than trying to get the gist of an album with itunes' preview....yuck!
NPR first listen
National Public Radio is awesome in general but their First Listen section is really something to get excited about. Every week NPR gives us an exclusive listen to a new album just about to drop; they are a diverse mix of genres and a good chance to be exposed to new music in the way it was intended to be heard, as an album.
The Hype Machine
Hypemachine is a music blog aggregator and is my favourite site from this list. Not only can you stream music from the best music blogs but you can also tag songs you like and listen to them later as their own playlist. You can also connect with friends and listen to their playlist of favourites as well.
Songkick – this isn't a streaming site but it's worth checking out
There is nothing worse than hearing that your favourite band is coming to town and tickets are already sold out. Enter Songkick. Songkick will scan your music library for it's artists and tell you when they're going on tour. Simple. Awesome.