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Garth Callaghan

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Five Internet Services for Music Lovers

WGarth Callaghan

The internet has done some incredible things for the music industry (and also some not so incredible things). Music has never been as accessible as it is now, giving music lovers easy access to their old favorites and to new artists they might never have heard of. In this blog I wanted to highlight five websites and services that are changing the way that people listen to and discover music.


1) Pandora: This website has been around for years, providing personalized radio stations designed to only play the music that you want to listen to now. For those who haven't used it, the idea is that you go onto Pandora and enter an artist, track, or genre that you are in the mood to listen to, and it will play similar songs. For example, if you enter "The Beatles," Pandora will play tracks by The Beatles, their solo projects, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, and other similar artists. There are occasional ads, but it's a small price to pay for a free service that streams endless music without repeating. You can also pay a small subscription fee if you want to get rid of the ads and have a little more control. Pandora is great if you work on a computer all day and are allowed to listen to music.

2) Spotify: Spotify is another free (ad supported) music streaming service, but rather than playing random music based on your initial input, you can choose the songs or albums that you want to listen to, much like you would in iTunes or other music players. All that you need to do is to head over to spotify.com, register a free account (or a paid one if you want the perks, like no ads), download and install the Spotify player, and start listening. Music is acquired by Spofity through deals with record companies, so you can support the musicians by listening to their albums (although you can surely give them more support by actually buying their albums and seeing them live). There is a surprisingly huge library to choose from including new releases by chart-topping artists as well as more obscure musicians. I find that it's a great way to "try before you buy." Rather than wasting money on an album you might not even like, you can give it a listen or two to make your decision, saving you money and hard drive space.

3) Last.fm: This website is probably a little less well-known than the previous two, but is a great resource for music-lovers who like to keep track of what they're listening to. By signing up for a free account and installing a small piece of software, Last.fm tracks every song you listen to in your music player of choice (including Spotify!) on your computer, building a profile so that you can see your compatibility with other users and find out about similar artists who you might not know. Sometimes I like to look at my stats or the stats of my friends to see who we have been listening to the most in the last week/month/year. It also tells you if an artist you might be interested is playing near you, saving you from having to look up tour dates or hear about it by chance. Last.fm provides a very similar service to Pandora, letting you make radio stations for artists or genres that you are interested in, or even recommended music that you have not listened to. This is definitely a really fun service if you are interested in exploring new musical worlds.

4) Discogs: WARNING: serious music nerds only. Discogs is a site where people can create an account and keep track of their entire music collection, down to which format you own it in or which pressing of vinyl it is. Those who are less obsessive can use it as a resource to learn about every release an artist has ever been a part of, even if it was a production credit or backing vocals on a deep-cut from some obscure album. I like to use Discogs to see if I am missing anything by my favorite artists, or to learn about some details that most other websites don't typically care about. Again, this site isn't for everyone, but it might be interesting to check out if you are really passionate about certain artists or albums.

5) Cloud Services: The traditional methods of obtaining music (going to a store, purchasing a physical artifact, and listening to it) is certainly becoming less popular in favor of buying digital music to store on a hard drive, but even that "new" way of listening to music is being threatened. There are quite a few new services emerging that will store your music "in the cloud," meaning that your music will be stored online so that you can access it anywhere you have an internet connection. The benefit of this is that you can free up space on your devices and that you don't have to have your computer with you to be able to play your music. Amazon has been offering its Cloud Player service for accessing your music and data on your computer or Andriod device. Google has a Music Beta service which is currently invite only that supports computers and Android devices as well. Apple also has its iCloud service for iOS devices and PCs, as well as iTunes Match (scroll to the bottom of this link for more info), which should be released very soon. All of these services have different price rates and some slightly different features, so if this is something you are interested in I highly recommend you do more investigating into which would be right for you.


Needless to say, this is an exciting time to be a music fan. As the internet has in some cases hurt the music industry because of piracy, it has also given new artists ways to get their music out there to the public who probably never would have heard of them otherwise. With the five websites and services that I have highlighted above, you will be able to listen to your favorite music almost anywhere you want and discover new sounds that you might not have heard from the radio or by shuffling your iTunes library.