Music is important again. Everywhere you go it’s virtually impossible not to see someone sporting white headphones on a morning jaunt, tapping honeydew melons in the produce section, or boogying while folding laundry at the corner wash and spin. Yes, music is back, and it’s no doubt thanks to the ubiquitous nature of the sleek Apple iPod. Hooray for music!
Now that we’re all listening again it seems our number one challenge is to find new music that inspires. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to discover new artists or rediscover old ones. The most obvious option is to browse the iTunes music store which I spend way more time doing than I care to publicly admit. A less obtrusive and more rewarding method I have recently found is to use one of the many free “music discovery services” that now exist.
Basically, a music discovery service is a website that attempts to play music tailored to your individual tastes. Two of the most popular sites are Pandora.com and Last.fm. Most services start by having you to pick an artist, genre, song, or mood. The service then streams a sequence of songs similar to your original suggestion and displays song, artist, and album information. Most such services are “trainable” meaning that as songs play you can add a rating on the fly which influences what the service will play next. It’s like having a personal DJ who attempts to play exactly what you like; every now and then he might throw in the Chicken Dance but we forgive. As an example, here is a station I created on Pandora using Marvin Gaye’s 1965 hit, “How Sweet It Is to Be Loved By You” as a starting point.
Another very promising service is the French Musicovery site. (Unfortunately, the site grew in popularity so rapidly that the creators had to temporarily take it offline. Hopefully Musicovery will be back online soon.) There are a number of things that make the Musicovery site unique. The first is a highly graphic user interface that displays a “winding road” like playlist. You visualize the universe of music that is similar to your choice and can easily skip upcoming tracks. The site also features attribute scales and genres for selecting your starting point. Choose on the scales of “dark to positive” and “calm to energetic” and select a genre and the playlist and visuals jump into sound and motion. Selecting energetic, positive soul, I was introduced (reintroduced) to Marvin Gaye’s early motown hits. (Wow, I forgot how much I like that sound!) After a bit of listening I ended up purchasing, “Every Great Motown Hit of Marvin Gaye” at the iTunes music store. Brilliant.
I hope this has given you some new resources and encouraged you to find new music for your portable player. Keep grooving and don’t tap the melons too hard. 😉