Music Is Music As Devices Are Kisses Is Everything

2009-03-18 | |

Aside from the horribly confusing 65 Days of Static title, which is just so overtly indified that it's almost holds itself with an indignant sort of thing about it...I decided to showcase some music, for once. And not just any old music. Not music you have to pay for either. I'm going to showcase two websites I've stumbled upon, and a few artists from the same 'rough' background. So, are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

This is a niggly little website as far as I'm concerned. It's both 'neato' and a 'bleedin pile of junk' at the same time. When I first stumbled onto it, I could do as I pleased, but now I apparently need an account.

The basis of Musicovery is the discovery of music, thus musicovery. You start off with a blank screen, and a minimalist user interface, with four options - positive and dark, calm and energetic. You then click at a point on the UI, and the site will think about what songs fit your criteria, roughly. I started with dark, but slightly energetic, and was met with the Lovecats, followed by Depeche Mode, some U2, and then we moseyed on into a few lesser songs that barely managed to fit - bluesy, jazzy stuff, mainly. On trying positive, yet still energetic, it was Gwen Stefani, Shakira, and a host of pop and rap tunes.

Sounds simple eh? Well, not really. When you choose, the site works out what your first song is, and then maps all the other songs in relation to it, so you can see if you're heading in a positive, negative, calm, or energetic direction on the next tune. If you really love one song you've discovered, double click, and that new tune becomes your starting point for a whole new playlist, totally mapped out with almost every song changed to suit the change in mood.
There's also a tempo option, for those people who just want some dance - whether it's going from the low, sleazy tempos of the Sneaker Pimps, to the way up, bouncing House beats they have available.

So, what are the downsides - if you click "Discover", the whole point of the site, then you have to sign up for a premium account to be able to skip songs you don't like - or at least that's the impression I got, when I hit "discover" and my 'skip' button was taken away, and those skips that remained kept telling me I needed to be a premium member for the privilege.
The UI is also a bit buggy. You can click the same spot until your mouse goes blue in the buttons, and it'll keep reverting to the point you turned it on at - I spent a good two minutes trying to get 'middle-of-the-road', very dark music on - only to have the "calm and positive" stylings of Bob Marley and Air thrown in my face - so much for music discovery that I was 'in the mood for'.

So, on the whole? It's a good program, admittedly. If I didn't keep getting accosted by the "You must be a premium member" skip warning, and I didn't have to spend a long time trying to get something dark on, then I suppose I'd rate it a fair bit higher than I will now. Sure, it's new; sure, I'm being picky, but, when it comes down to it, I'd be pissed off if this was the final version.

Overall: 6/10 - innovative, but buggy.

2. Spotify
On the opposite end of the scale, Spotify is one of those offline clienty fandangley things. You go in, you sign up, you download the installer, click the appropriate fiddly buttons, agree to sign your soul away, and you're off. In other words, it's the ' client' on steroids, ready to punch some sense into iTunes' new Genius feature.

I'll admit, this thing confused me about as much as Genius did. I read, or rather skimmed, the tutorial stuff, and saw the picture of the thousands upon thousands of tunes being thrown at the fake person using it. When it was my turn? What tunes?

Looking on earnestly at this bastard-son of iTunes, I sheepishly typed in Siouxsie and the Banshees - and was met with her entire back catalog, to stream, for free. I think, if I had been a little bit more shocked, I might have gone into a nerd-coma. As my head bobbed to Arabian Knights, I thought "bloody hell, and this is all free!", admittedly streaming, but free.

Obscurer bands just confuse the poor dear, but, you can still get vaguely similar ones - I tried for Marc and the Mambas, to see if I could really get "All the music of the world at [my] fingertips", and was met with nothing - on changing to Marc Almond, I was greeted by his back catalog, minus the Soft Cell and Mambas days.

And aside from the search function, we have the radio function. Oh my oh my. Choose your genre(s), and click play. I hit pop, I hit play - Tom Jones. Easy win for me. I need say no more.
On first looks, I have no complaints. Funded by advertising, they say. Who cares what it's funded by when it's this intuitive and simple - the learning curve? About 10 mind-numbing seconds. Better than iTunes, where after each update I take an hour trying to grasp where half of my buttons and menus have moved to, and what new junk they've thrown in to make it even more memory hungry.

Overall? What can I say. It's good. It's exactly what the world needs, until, as one Pontus Madsen said, the RIAA bans music altogether.

Overall: 8/10 - I can see something going wrong with it, and it isn't really *all the music* of the world, but, it's a good start for something that's only in version 0.3. I really like it.

3. Webcomic Guitar Wankery
They all do it. All webcomic writers pick up their guitar, their copy of Garage Band or whatever program they use, and they release little tunes now again. I'm not going to sit and say "These are bloody good" or "These are not so good". I'm just going to say:

Pontus Madsen has one up:

Jeph Jacques has a tonne up:
and his livejournal

Oh, yes, and by all means read their webcomics too. I'm sure if you go from one to the other, and onwards via a trail of links, you will no doubt find a treasure trove of fun little songs composed by these unknown knowns.

And I'll leave you with that, and this thought from QI's Alan Davies:

A small pie is soon eaten

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