Friday, February 29, 2008

How to Listen to the Music You Want for Free without Stealing It

I have been on a high horse for a long time regarding not stealing music. Sometimes people give me CD's of songs they think I'll like, but that's called sharing still for some reason, and we all know that terminology is the most important thing when it comes to discerning right from wrong.
So here's how I find new music and listen to pretty much whatever I want.

Step one is usually at Pandora. Pandora is an online radio service that lets you create your own radio stations based on what you like. With a little help, after you've told it what you like and dislike through an incredibly easy and pretty chic interface, it discovers music for you that it thinks you will like. You start with one song or artist you like and thumbs up or thumbs down anything your radio station gives you. The more you tell it, the better it gets, and I am often pleasantly surprised with how successful it is at its task. The site has a few drawbacks due mostly to its licensing agreements with the powers that be in the recording industry, but you get used to them quickly, and they're not worth talking about at length. Everyone I know who uses Pandora is in love with the radio station they've helped her build.

The only thing I don't like about Pandora is that when you hear an artist you've never heard before, if you're like me, you want to hear another song by the same artist to see whether their album is worth buying or if it's the only song they made that was half-way decent. Or lets say someone mentions a band you've never heard, and you want to check just that band's songs out. You can't really do that with Pandora, which brings us to step two:

Seeqpod, despite having one of the clumsiest interfaces online, has become an indispensable component of my music consumption. The interface is wrought with all the shortcomings of flash and none of its advantages, and I wonder why it's in flash at all. Flash does unexpected things like going back a page when you hit delete, loading data funny, and has peculiar ways of handing searchfield clicks. The password field when you sign in is case-specific without telling you. The scroll bars won't let you use the mac track pad two-finger scrolling function. The green arrows and red x's are crappy-looking. You can't copy and paste link locations. In fact, there is a long list as to why the seeqpod interface sucks including its buttons and icons being ugly, but it's worth getting used to.
You can search seeqpod for an artist you want to hear, and seeqpod will scour the internet for as many songs and videos it can find. Usually, it can find whole albums worth of music from an artist. Then, you can make a playlist relatively easily and listen to a whole album of your newly-discovered band.
For some reason, you can't make a playlist of videos, and when you are building a playlist of songs it doesn't erase your selections from the "found" column when you add them to your playlist, making it difficult to figure out which one was a deadlink when you get a deadlink, but still, if you can tolerate that, you'll have a bunch of new music in a couple of minutes. Then you can post it to your blog or send it to a friend like people used to do with Odeo. I used to think Odeo was cool.
Also, seeqpod has an almost completely useless "discover" feature. It will be extremely cool if and when they ever get that to work, but for now, I am sticking with Pandora for discovering. But, if Seeqpod actually gets its interface to look half as good as Pandora's and work half as well as Pandora's, I will switch to Seeqpod for good and abandon sleek Pandora and their licensing issues. Seeqpod is in need of a designer and a programmer who rocks at PHP and Flash and Java. It looks like they are trying to kill two birds right now with a guy who can program and design without being very good at either. There are expert interface designers and expert interface programmers, and they are almost never the same person.

1 comment:

Jennifer B said...

Apparently I can not use Pandora because I'm in Canada. Talk about discrimination.