Music is one of the oldest human pastimes—a flute has been discovered in the cave of Hohler Fels, in Baden-Würtemberg, southwestern Germany, that dates back to 43,000 B.C.E. But let us move ahead in time to the present, when the Internet provides us with countless ways to discover new music—we will look at seven of them.
1) Pandora Radio
Pandora was founded twelve years ago but is still fully available only in the United States, though Australians have limited access. The user does not access songs directly. Instead, when he first logs onto the site a song will be playing at random and the user can indicate whether he likes or dislikes it. Pandora will then use that member’s indicated preferences in deciding what to play the next time he logs in. The member can also indicate that he is tired of a particular song, wishes to move onto another station, form a new one of his own or bookmark this song. From 2007 to 2009 Pandora had a musicology show called Pandora Podcast.
Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia and not a music source, but it can be a way of finding out about music that you might like. Not only can you look up your favorite artists, but you can find similar ones among the categories listed at the bottom of the page. With the article on Taylor Swift, for instance, you will find at the bottom of the page such categories as “American country banjoists,” “American country singer-songwriters,” “American female guitarists” and “American pop singers.” Clicking on any of these, you will come to a list of people in those categories. You can then click on any of those artists, find the titles of some of their songs—and play them on any of the three sites described in the following sections.
YouTube has all sorts of wonderful things that you can watch and listen to. In addition to the songs themselves, you can also watch their official videos. Many members also download videos of themselves playing their own versions of their favorite songs so that the whole world can watch them. Other videos include lyrics. There are also karaoke and instrumental videos of songs that the listener can sing to himself.
At Grooveshark you make searches by song, artist or album. Clicking on the artist you can read his biography and “follow” him. You can also listen to songs in queue form. (YouTube once had this feature too, but for some reason they abandoned it. You can still listen to your playlists.)
MySpace has recently acquired Imeem, a formerly independent musical downloading site. The user can perform a music search for a person or song and see both albums and individual songs suggested.
All of the last three services just described allow the user to arrange songs into playlists to make them easier to locate. I like to form playlists according to genre—rock music, oldies, modern country, old-time country, folk music, bluegrass music, rap music, ragtime and jazz, Broadway, classical music, and early recordings (this last category includes those made before 1920). All of them also make suggestions for the member based on what he has listened to in the past.
Awdio is another site where you can hear free music. You can listen to pre-existing channels or create your own. They also have a free newsletter.
7) Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites
Social networking is an excellent way to share the music you like. At YouTube, Grooveshark and MySpace you can click on the Facebook or Twitter icon with a song or video to indicate that you like it. Likewise you can find out what songs your friends enjoy listening to.
There are a thousand ways of discovering music online. The best thing of all is that they are for the most part free, so that you do not have to spend ten dollars or more on an album only to find that you dislike all or most of the songs on it!
Katelyn is a social media blogger for free music download sites, helping users download free music downloads using BearShare.com.