I’m a bit of a music junkie—I wouldn’t say snob, or groupie, but junkie—as in music keeps me equal parts sane and…insane. For those of you that don’t know me, I also dabble in tech. So, here are the apps I recommend you use for your music listening and discovery fixes.
Note: For this post, 10 things equals 10 apps; consider the list in no particular order, and recognize that ten is a small number to use when expressing my love for music and technology; all apps are available on iPhone and Android.
1. Pandora Radio (app, web)
For a #techgeek, it may be a bit old school of me to still use Pandora with such passion, but I do, mostly for ‘listening’ rather than ‘discovering.’ It’s rare that a song or artist I haven’t heard of cycles through one of my Pandora stations, but that’s part of what makes it so great. Like a robot friend, Pandora gets to know you, it plays music you want to hear, music it knows you will like—safe, but comforting. (Every time it plays a poorly chosen song, a strong sense of betrayal comes over me because IMHO, compared to the apps below, Pandora has the most honed sense of me.)
2. Shazam (app)
“Lovin’ that tune?” Shazam is the app that let’s you “discover, buy and share the song that is playing.” So, anytime I’m at a club / party / in friend’s car and I hear something I like, but haven’t heard before, I keep it mod and Shazam it. No pen and paper here. If it’s Taylor Swift I keep it to myself, but if it’s worthy [read: new Pitbull] I’ll share it via Twitter.
3. SoundHound (app)
SoundHound is my Plan B to Shazam. Although the two can be used interchangeably, I prefer Shazam’s UI. I use SoundHound when Shazam can’t recognize my song, and about 10% of the time it pulls through.
4. iHeartRadio (app, web)
Similar to Pandora, iHeartRadio is an online radio station—more for listening than discovery. A key difference? The Pandora Pitbull station plays Pitbull and similar music the app knows you like. iHeartRadio stations however, you have control over: you can choose just Pitbull, or slide to your spot on a scale of “familiar artists” to “more discovery.” Another unarguable plus to iHeartRadio is the MILLIONS of more songs it has access to (iHeartRadio is owned by Clear Channel). iHeartRadio launched in 2008, but only recently gained popularity. Pandora has been rocking since 2005. Although Pandora knows me like a childhood best friend, I see a blossoming relationship with iHeartRadio…
5. SoundTracking (app)
This app is not for listening or discovery, but for sharing. Easier done than said—you’ll have to try it out. Basically, the app allows you to snap a photo, tag the people you’re with and where, and add a jam to it. For example, my first SoundTrack was at an outdoor bar this September, I snapped a pic, tagged mis amigos, and SoundTracked “Summertime” x Will Smith. Then, you know the drill, you can share to Facebook, Foursquare, or Twitter. A fault to the app? You have to SoundTrack by artist name, rather than song title, song genre, or even song subject (although I hear they’re working on this…).
6. Songify (app, web)
Like SoundTracking, this app is not for listening or discovery, Songify is for creation. The creators of the app believe that “everyone is creative and that everyone ought to create music together.” On that note, the app is simple enough for all ages (and makes everyone feel like a kid again). You speak into your phone and the app transforms your speech to song, they call it a sort of “reverse karaoke.” It’s a silly, hot mess, that brings hours minutes of entertainment. Here’s one I created. Other popular Songifed songs are the Double Rainbow and the Bed Intruder. Enjoy!
7. Rdio (app, web) and Spotify (app, web)
Rdio and Spotify are music apps for a bit techier of a crowd. Music listening, discovery, and sharing all in one platform. Think of a free (with the option of paid premiums), legal, cloud-based iTunes. Spotify has almost double the song count, although the two are very similar. Choose the platform that’s right for you by simple personal preference, although I’d say Rdio is what the cool kids use, and Spotify is for more corporate, right-wingers. (Side note, Pandora and iHeartRadio are both powered by intelligent music service The Echo Nest. Spotify just partnered with The Echo Nest too, so expect to see a wave of lefties coming on board. See previous post here.)
8. Drinkify (web)
Self-explanatory—the site “drinkifies” your listening experience. Simply enter what you’re listening to, and Drinkify spits out an alcoholic beverage recipe to further set the mood. For example, when listening to Pitbull, Drinkify recommends six ounces of rum, neat, garnished with a twist of grapefruit. Although Drinkify has creative suggestions, it’s not perfect. When listening to The Kid Espi, Drinkify recommends Jafermeister, served neat, stirred slow—had Drinkify been an A++ app it would’ve said…Jameson. Duh.
9. The Northwest Breakout Show (radio, app, web)
Major shout out to Cool Nutz for holding it down for local hip-hop. The Northwest Breakout Show is hosted every Sunday night from 9pm-midnight PST on Wild 107.5 (you can also listen live via the iHeartRadio app or online). The show is a solid, underground music discovery tool, and more often than not I’m pleasantly surprised by the amount of talent that calls the Northwest home. Please #supportland.
10. thesixtyone (web)
Last, but most certainly not least. Thesixtyone.com, all about discovery, is a personal favorite of mine. I almost hate to share this gem with you. I discovered it in a Chat Roulette call (yikes!) and have dug it ever since. If you’re headed to Pandora to listen to any indie station, stop, and try thesixtyone first. You just might like what you hear.