This powerful digital music management system is nirvana. I simply cannot live without it. Not only does it enable me to have music in virtually every room in my house (through zone controllers), I can listen to and discover a limitless variety of music. Sonos manages your own music collection and gives you access to Rhapsody, Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, Internet Radio, Pandora, Last.fm, and good ‘ol terrestrial radio. And you can control it all from the palm of your hand.
On any given day, you will find me jumping from my ‘new music’ playlist in Rhapsody, to Sirius/XM Channel 26 for a little Blog Radio, then WOXY for some FutureSounds and occasionally, if I’m feeling uninspired and lucky, I’ll plug in a random band in Pandora or Last.fm. I can’t think of any other tool that can allow you to do that in a quality listening situation (i.e. real speakers).
I’ve long been a fan of the subscription-based music model and, therefore, have been an advocate of services like Rhapsody for quite some time. The fact that, for $15 a month, I can play ANY artist or album I want, anywhere, anytime is priceless to me. The integration of the service into Sonos is just the icing on the cake. Whenever I read an album review or hear a new artist on the Internet, I just go to Rhapsody and queue up their album for a listen. Granted, there are times they don’t have what I’m looking for but 80-90% of the time they do. And that’s impressive!
Another favorite music discovery tool of mine is Mojo, a free music sharing application that makes it ridiculously easy to share music online with your music buddies. With just a couple of clicks, you can browse, select and download music from any Mojo user directly into your iTunes library. It’s a fabulous tool I use to troll my inner music circle’s music libraries on a regular basis. I frequently hit their iTunes/Recently Added folder to see what new music they’ve uncovered and what they’re listening to on a regular basis. Music voyeurism at it’s finest!
Good bye iTunes, helllloooo Songbird! Developed by a group calling themselves ‘Pioneers of the Inevitable’ (love it),Songbird is a free open source media player and web browser rolled into one. It’s like the power of iTunes and Firefox combined. Not only can you manage and play your own music, now you can play the web too.
For example, any media files stored on a website will show up as a playable file in the Songbird application that you can download or save to your library. Even better, it has a built-in RSS subscription and MP3 file download so now you can subscribe to your favorite MP3 blogs as playlists! Plus, it’s already integrated with HypeMachine, eMusic and InSound. To get a better sense of all the features, watch their online demo here. The potential of this application is mind-boggling!
5. Internet/Satellite Radio
As unsophisticated as it sounds, I use both Internet and satellite radio on a daily basis to discover new music. Mostly by listening to my favorite stations and programs, a few of which include:
More than anything, I rely on my trusted music blogs to keep me on the pulse. There’s no better source for cutting edge music information. Of course, there’s the tried and true, Pitchfork and Stereogum. I follow all the blogs listed in my blogroll, but my personal favorites include: My Old Kentucky Blog, MBV and Aquarium Drunkard, See What You Hear, Hear Ya and The 405. The MOG network is a good blog aggregator as well.
But why blog when you can micro blog with Twitter! And I do so more and more these days. It’s quite addicting and a great way to stay on top of music releases, events and news. Hell, I even read the NY Times via Twitter these days. I’m so ADD. To efficiently use Twitter, you need to install an application like TweetDeck. Otherwise, it’s completely unruly. Get started by following me @indierockgirl, then check out this great Wired blog post on tips for discovering music through Twitter. It’s a good tutorial!
8. MP3 Services
I subscribe to both eMusic and Amie Street and find they have great music recommendations. Particularly Amie Street. Their community-driven site has become a bit of an obsession and enables you to get music for cheap or for free depending on how much you participate with reviews, recommendations and such. eMusic’s 17 Dots blog gives me the insider scoop as to what’s hot and what’s coming on the site. Their subscription based music download model keeps me regimented in my music acquisition!
9. Music Recommendation Sites
Everyone loves Pandora, Last.fm, LaLa. I personally find limitations with these algorithm-based recommendation engines. They are all fundamentally flawed to me. I always find the same artists coming up over and over again. I have been turned on recently to tools that take a more interesting approach to music recommendation. One is We Are Hunted, the first online music chart. It aggregates social networks, music blogs, torrents to chart what people are listening to on the web. A true indie music chart!
The other I’ve been playing with is The Filter, the brainchild of rocker Peter Gabriel and uses a model based on Bayesian mathematics to predict the similarity of bands. It logs what you play, runs it through the maths-grinder, and pops out a list of what you’ll like.
10. Music Mapping Tools
Music mapping tools are a bit of a novelty for me. I don’t reference them all the time but do play around with them occasionally, out of skepticism mostly. I want to see if they can stump me. Try TuneGlue, StumbleAudio, and Music Map for shits and grins. After typing in your favorite artist name, you’ll be served up a visual array of related bands to explore. Here’s a link to a whole review of music visualization tools if you’re into that sort of thing.