12 Free Ways To Discover The Best New Music Online (Part 3 of 3)
So now you know 8 of our 12 favorite music sites. If you missed them you can check out Part 1 and Part 2. We know there are lots of these music-related sites out there, so keep reading and you’ll know all of the best ones by the time your done. Let’s continue…
8tracks (screenshot above)
Yup, you guessed it. 8tracksis a play on the old eight-track, which came before cassettes and after reel-to-reel tape. My how music has come a long way! But looking to the future here, 8tracks dwells on the never-perfected art of making a playlist. We all love making playlists, perhaps we’ve obsessed about the perfect tracks that go together. Mixes longer than they need to be can sometimes take the attention away from the songs that really defined your playlist to begin with. So with 8tracks, not only can you listen to songs grouped together under one theme, but you can also drill down by genre and explore all of the playlists created by other creative music mongers like yourself.
Let’s say you want to go into the ‘eclectic’ category listed to the right side of the page. You’ll see that right now there are 3,205 mixes just for this genre! You can sort by most recent or most popular. Heck, you can create your mix and see how popular or unpopular it turns out. Commenting runs rampant, so if you’re looking to get an opinion on a mix, people will comment and let you know what they like and follow you too. The site is also intertwined with the social aspects such as Stumbleupon, Twitter and Facebook which makes it easy to share songs with your friends or those who follow you. There is already an iPhone app for 8tracks and an app for Android is coming very soon.
While Music-Map was the originator, TuneGlue and Music Roamer essentially do the same thing but in a more stylish and user-friendly fashion. Music-Map quite fittingly lists itself as “The Tourist Map of Music”. Just as you would not know what to do going to Scandanavia, you would not know what else to listen to if you are new to a certain artist. Music-Map shows a search box where you enter the name of an artist. Let’s say you put Coldplay in there. Although Coldplay is quite a general and popular artist, you’ll now see a handful of artists are orbiting around their name in the middle. The more relative an artist is, the closer they orbit to the name you entered. If you see an artist you don’t know or want to dig deeper, you can click on their name. Let’s say you click on Keane, and then Ash and then The Get Up Kids, then Hot Water Music. Now you’re miles away from the mainstream groups you started with and you can start digging into Polar Bear Club, whom you’ve noticed are related to Hot Water Music.
Music Roamer expands on Music-Map’s visual layout of related artists, except provides more of a family tree as to how they’re related. For instance, if you pick up where we left off, you can enter Polar Bear Club or even a genre here. Music Roamer will show a line connecting that artist to a variety of other artists. Double click on an artist connected to Polar Bear Club, say Title Fight and you’ll see a whole new tree expand. You’ll notice that artists that are unlike the one you originally suggested will move away from each other in a magnetic fashion. In the top left hand corner, you’ll also see a button that says “Listen to Title Fight!” which will take you to a list of songs for you to play.
TuneGlue goes an extra step than Music-Map and Music Roamer not only with the colorful aspects but with more options to explore such as an ‘expand’ button, which will show you related artists in a similar style to Music Roamer, a ‘visit site’ button and a ‘news’ button (which really only gives information about the band). One thing I always like to see are the albums an artist released over the years and TuneGlue gives you this option. Although, while testing this out, I used Radiohead as an example and found it did not list anything, so don’t count on this feature to work for every artist. The added feature I like about TuneGlue is that once you click on an artist outside of the current grouping, you’ll see it expand. If you do this enough times, the tree will expand to a point where some of the artists will go out of the screen. You can drag the artists around the screen. If an artist is closely related to more than just one artist, you’ll see multiple strings attaching the artists.
I might not need to be said, but if it wasn’t obvious already, these sites us a Last.fm API which uses the Last.fm interface to relate the artists. What these sites have done is visually lay it out, which some of us visual learners (like myself) certainly need.
No, I’m not going through my least favorites as the list goes on. Stereomood is perhaps one of my favorites, in fact. The name of the site is exactly what they say it is “emotional internet radio”. Basically Stereomood allows you to choose a mood and will automatically play music to that specific mood. Its great if you’re looking for something calming to listen to when you need to work or perhaps something to party to when the event arrives. Feeling gangsta or just woke up? There’s a mood for that. Stereomood also allows you to add songs to your own playlist so if you feel like saying “to hell with these moods”, you can start your own collection. One of the prime reasons to use this site is not only to match your mood (which is quite lovely), but it also allows you to shuffle a great deal of music allowing for hardly any repetition. If you click on the ‘calm’ category, you’ll see you’re in for about 1,387 songs or if each song were 4 minutes, that equates to 92 ½ hours of music – more than two full work week’s worth of music! Stereomood keeps up to date as well. In fact, I just listened to it yesterday and heard one of the remixes we featured on our site last week, so you know you’re going to get some variety of new and old.
Stereomood is one of my favorites because of its simplicity, usefulness and variety.
While Stereomood has a nice selection of various moods, Musicovery developed a grid that parallels four different moods: Energetic, Dark, Positive, Calm (see screenshot). The selectable area allows you to select a point between these four mood descriptions which converts that mood into a playlist. This is where Musicovery really kicks in… You can also select your mood by year! Go all the way back to the 50s or just stick in your new age comfort zone. You can also filter by genre, removing songs from the jazz, classical, soundtrack, electro, vocal pop and rock genres. But wait, there’s more! If you hit the ‘more’ button around the genres, you’ll see another 20 genres pop up.
The great idea behind Musicovery is that you’ll have a more defined list if you feel the need to have one. If you want to explore more within the genre you know and love so much already, you can do stick to your guns and keep things simple. Each track is also loaded with social options and allows you to ban songs from future playlists or save a song to your favorites. If you’d like to switch things up, you can also select the general tab along the top to ‘Dance Radio’ or even ‘Artist Radio’. Feel free to click around, your site won’t stop playing the music you’re listening to! The most creative thing I really enjoyed about this site is being able to drag your mouse over the mood graph and hear the stations instantly change as if you were changing stations on your fm radio dial. Lovely site here, congrats to the designers on this one!
If you’re looking for more, consider Grooveshark which seems to have everything if you can’t find it or Fizy, which allows you to find music + videos together. Also, Stumbleupon apparently has a music search tool called Stumbleaudio, but is still under construction and iLike is yet another way to share playlists with friends.
If you really want to go exploring, there are more music-discovery sites out there than we can shake an iPod at. I hope you’ve found a new site or music tool to help you explore more!