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3 Free Tools for Great Music on the Web

I love music.  I have spent a good portion of my life writing, singing, playing, and listenting to it.  Regardless of the genre, great music is something I value highly.  So, discovering new music I enjoy and rediscovering long forgotten old favorites from earlier in my life makes me happy.

When I was a young college student, many moons ago, I would spend hours flipping through the racks at CD Connection, searching for that little known Pearl Jam bootleg, or the side project that Mark Arm did, or the CD with Phish jamming with Santana, etc…  Most of my friends did the same thing, and as a result life was filled with great new tunes.  Time was more abundant, and music was a central part of my daily life.  However, with work, family, and the other responsibilities that come with adulthood, it is not as easy as it once was to find great tunes. The internet makes all of that easier.  Here are 3 sites that can help you find great music in a flash.

Pandora – I have written about this site before, but it is worth mentioning again.  Pandora is amazing.  To begin using it, you name your “radio station” (you can have several if you like) and you enter the name of a band or a song you like.  From there Pandora will play that song or artist, and others with similar musical characteristics.  You can rate them based on your preferences, and as you do Pandora learns about you.  Using something called the music genome project, Pandora determines what characteristics you like about music.  It is not just who you like, but what you like and why.  This allows Pandora to regularly surprise you with new music you enjoy, as well as giving it an eery ability to pull classics from the archives that at one time would have been in your favorites.  You can share your station with others, read information about the bands and songs, and link directly to itunes and amazon to make purchases.  I have been using Pandora for several years now, and I am still amazed by its ability to surprise me with great new discoveries.

Songza – Songza is a search engine for music.  Go there, type in a band name or a song title, and it returns numerous results of music tracks.  This is great for the times when you hear that song, but can’t remember the name exactly.  Or, when your nephew or niece, being young and still cool, is kind enough to drop the names of some cool new band they just saw in concert.  Songza is a great tool for researching potential new favorites.  It is also great for when you have a particular song stuck in your head, or the guy in the cube next to you says “no I’ve never heard that song,” and you are desperate to hear it.  Songza puts specific titles right there at your fingertips.

Musicovery – This is a recent find for me, as my brother in law Chad forwarded a link to me.  Musicovery gives you the ability to choose the genres of music you feel like hearing, the time frame or era in which it was recorded, the mood you are in (positive v dark) and (energetic v calm), and the relative popularity of the music it chooses.  This allows you to build a very customized radio station on the fly, based on how you feel at that specific time.  It has a great catalog of tracks, and was amazingly in-tune with what I “felt like listening to.”  It has a very cool interface, and delivers a very engaging user experience.  It is different from Pandora, in that it is more malleable, but it offers less surprise as a tradeoff.  I see it as a great compliment to Pandora, depending on how engaged you want to be in the selection process.  Musicovery also links directly into Amazon, making it easy to buy tracks that you want to own.

Give these sites a shot, and let me know what you think.  Know of other great sites?  Share your knowledge with us by leaving a comment.