We have to admit a few years back Pandora was our go to streaming music choice. Some of us have been evangelists ever since. We loved the fact that we found a lot of great new artists and songs based on the crazy algorithm that determines what you may or may not like. Then, probably while listening to Pandora, they made some major news. And all they had to do was make the musicians who use and the support the service, very unhappy. According to an article in The Register:
The leading backer of a bill passing through US Congress that will slash musicians’ pay by 85 per cent, as well as effectively outlawing them from bargaining collectively with their paymasters, has been selling stock worth $1m in his own internet company every month.
If that’s not yucky enough for you, Hypebot announced Pandora is suing ASCAP for lower licensing fees on behalf of ASCAP songwriters. Execs cash in while suing songwriters is not going to win you any PR awards. What do you think about what Pandora is doing of late?
Sometimes it’s good for us to step outside our comfort levels and discover and listen to fresh music. Even with all the new sites and services out there, that’s easier said than done. Here are some tips to help you discover new tunes today:
1) Radio While Driving
Most of the time when we are driving we are cursing traffic, talking on the bluetooth or shuffling favorite songs on the Ipod. Don’t forget, every car is equipped with a free device that transmits plenty of music; the radio! Turn on that puppy and hit the scan button and in about ten minutes time you should have heard a diverse mix of musical genres. Use a site like http://radio-locator.com/ to find stations in different genres and cities and devote your time listening to some new programming. Never tried jazz? Listen to the different jazz stations from all around the U.S. and you’ll hear a lot of different mixes and opinions about the music you’re hearing.
This is another blast from the past – back in the pre-digital revolution friends and lovers would make each other cassette “mix tapes” with a batch of music the listener might never have heard before. Nowadays people use Itunes and burn a CD or put it on a USB drive. There are even online services that let you create a digital mixtape and send it to a friend. We personally prefer a hard copy of a mixtape – something about being able to hold it in your hand makes it better. Challenge your friends to put songs on your mix that stretch your musical sensibilities!
3) Online Music Services
There are literally hundreds of online streaming music services now that can help you expand your musical taste. From Pandora to Slacker to Spotify (which just added a radio section) you can tap into boundless amounts of music at anytime. Go on Pandora and pick an artist you have never heard of and use that as your “seed” artist to take you on your new musical journey. The jam band Phish launched Live Phish Radio in 2003 and you can stream it through Itunes 24 hours a day or even on your smartphone. iTunes has scores of free radio stations and podcasts available to help you discover new sounds. Use your smartphone apps like Shazam if you hear unfamiliar music that you want identified…the Shazam results will list all the ways to find that band’s music online and also offers tools to share the music you just heard with your online friends.
4) Live Music
Sometimes you need to hear a particular music genre live before you can open your ears to it. Jazz music for many is an acquired taste but nothing will get you hooked faster than attending a jazz club or themed/genre-specific night. Blues not your thing? Find a blues club! If you are a LAMA student, you’ll be exposed to so many live concerts on and off campus each week — take advantage of these opportunities to help open your ears to new and exciting music!
When we first stumbled onto YouTube, we were amused for hours with cute kitten videos and hilarious pranks caught on cell phone cameras. Very quickly a YouTube revolution took place and YouTube became the go-to place on-line for music listening. Whether it was official music videos, fan made music videos, or even just the audio of hard to find tracks set to a black background, YouTube became a top online destination for listening to music. What an ideal way to get turned onto new artists! Ask for suggestions from friends or just enter a genre or artist you are unfamiliar with in the search box. Make sure to look for “playlists” which will keep the music going after each song ends.
What if you discover a musical gem that had escaped you prior? What if this discovery helps your playing by working a new style into how you perform on your instrument? We all have our favorite artists and genres but part of our musical journey is leaving the comfort zones and listening to new material from different genres. Where do you find your new music?
It’s not called the music business for nothing. As great as it is to know about music in general, if you aren’t following the business side of things, you are losing out on a lot of helpful info. A music subscription service called Spotify, that took Europe by storm the last few years, has now arrived in the States.
Spotify is a Swedish DRM-based music streaming service offering selected music from a range of major and independent record labels including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal. What separates it from other current streaming services is that their catalog is supposedly extensive, the software is excellent, and you are able to sync it with your smartphone. It is completely free to use Spotify on your computer, but the company makes their money by charging for the premium accounts which have smartphone sync. Monthly subscriptions range from $4.95 to $9.95.
We’ve heard from friends that the free catalog available to the US, for the moment, is rather limited unless you are a premium member. But the industry speculates a game changer for a long-suffering music business that has been searching for a new way to make money off of music. YouTube has shown us that the way of the future is streaming. You can think of Spotify like the music version of Netflix Streaming, which has been incredibly popular.
You can sign up for Spotify today if you buy a premium subscription, but free invites have been trickling out and you can request them by going to the spotify.com or searching Twitter for a myriad of free invites from popular musicians and tech services. In fact Lady Gaga gave out a thousand invites over her Twitter recently. Same with Foursquare.
Music students/lovers, listen up! The future of music and streaming go hand-in-hand, so if you want to get paid for your lovely music, you should be aware of something currently going on with Pandora. The “free” streaming music service acts as a radio station with you as the programmer declaring what you like and don’t like. Pandora has realized, however, with the high cost of music licensing and needing more and more bandwidth, that they would supplement the music with both visual advertisements and audio ads. Anyone else annoyed by some of those ads?
Have no fear, Pandora unveiled an ad-free listening subscription: just $3 a month.
As much as I love hearing the ending piano part of “Layla” segueing into a Living Social ad, segueing into “Stairway To Heaven” sounds just a little bit nicer. It sounds like we aren’t the only ones. Digital Music News says:
The past has been discouraging (for Pandora subscriptions). In fact, just last year, founder Tim Westergren seemed to be giving up on premium. But the numbers are gradually getting better, and maybe the ‘annoyance whip’ can work.
Is commercial free Internet radio worth the cup of a Starbucks’ coffee? We think so. However, everyone is trying to get into the streaming business and become the Netflix of music so very soon Pandora will be sharing the marketplace with some ruthless competitors like Spotify, Apple and Google. In the meantime $3 a month seems like a fair price for unlimited ad-free streaming music at your fingertips.