The music industry has been changing for years, but the last couple of years have brought an even more accelerated rate of change for it. The way music lives online has changed beyond everything not to mention the way people interact with it. A few years ago unless a band had a site, all you could do was purchase or steal its music, or become the band’s friend on MySpace. Fortunately these days are over and we can gradually see more and more ways of meaningful ways of interacting with artists and fellow fans online. From LastFm to SoundCloud, things are getting more and more interesting.
To start from the consuming part of the society, or fans, as some like to call them, Spotify has become a major player on the scene. In the countries where it is available, Spotify has probably eradicated the need for buying or stealing music. Unless you’re chasing a niche artist, you can pretty much bet on finding what you’re looking for on Spotify and listening to it for free so long as you’re online and in one of the countries where it is available in its non-premium mode. If you want to get rid of the radio-like advertising and have it offline, you can just give them some money every month and live happily ever after.
My recent two favourites in the music scene are 8tracks and SoundCloud, 2 quite different online services. 8tracks is one of the simplest and least marketed and yet one of the most rewarding music services online you can find. 8tracks is all about man-made mixes – you can create mixes and listen to those made by other users. Once you’re finished with one, the site will swiftly redirect you to another mix that is compatible with what you were listening to before. You can create your own mixes with your own music or the music already in the 8tracks system via the ‘network’ option. You can search through genres, songs, artists or specific users, who they follow or who is following them. Yes, the following is very Twitter-like capability, except that instead of people’s blurbs you get music mixes that you can favourite or star the songs you like best. All in a really simple and elegant way that doesn’t nag you to pay or click on things. So far my definite favourite for discovering new music!
SoundCloud is probably the most innovative and versatile beast out there though. They’re not for the most part preoccupied with serving to the consumers, but are more focused on providing solutions for the creators of music. SoundCloud allows you to upload music and share it with everyone or those you want to share it with, but that’s just a part of it. SoundCloud has created a super-easy and embeddable way of putting music on your blog, on Twitter, just about anywhere you’d like it in fact through an audio widget that allows others to leave comments on particular bits of the tune. All this is trackable by those who upload it, whether it’s you or an artist managing a newly released track.
So yeah, sorry MySpace, but the friending and events sections just aren’t that hot these days.
[Image courtesy of .neha]