A lot of new music services continue to pop up each year, despite most consumer’s unwillingness to financially support artists directly. This is why most music services practice the balancing act of end user visibility and technical improvements to existing ideas, in order to generate both buzz and money. The music apps and services listed below won't necessarily revolutionize the industry, but they are some of the most interesting to debut in 2013 and worth a first, or second, look.
As different streaming services pile up, Bop.fm is trying to connect the dots between them. Instead of alienating your Rdio friends with Spotify links and vice versa, Bop.fm will generate a universal link that connects paid streaming services as well as SoundCloud and YouTube for your freeloader friends.
Sharing music has always had a high barrier to entry, including the analog method of writing recommendations down on paper. Content resolution is probably a back-end issue long-term, but in the interim, it’s exciting to see some more easy-to-use movement in the area.
Announced today, Bop.fm will be partnering with the streaming service Deezer. Until the music service eventually comes to the U.S., Bop.fm will allow its users to share tracks from the service that resolve to different music outlets for U.S. users.
Also see Tomahawk—an open source alternative that’s been around for a while.
At first glance, Mindie looks like a Vine competitor, but with music tacked on. The humble app is a way to create an instant soundtrack and set the mood for the video’s viewer. But from a big picture perspective it’s also conceivable that Mindie is a chance for artists and fans to redefine the modern-day music video. Instead of needing to share the whole song, sharing the song’s hook along with some visuals may be all an attention-starved generation needs to discover new artists.
Mindie is in the process of making it over the user adoption hump as public figures like Aston Kutcher, Michael Arrington, and even Twitter’s Jack Dorsey have all been sharing clips through the service.
Ever since Digg hit on a winning formula for ranking Internet content, the technique has been adopted into every category and use case—music included. While there have been others to do the same or similar things, Upbeat finds a pleasant way to rank user-submitted music. Laid out in three simple columns, Upbeat is exactly what you might hope for in a music chart for the Internet age.
You can queue tracks, save them, and purchase them on different services. If you’ve been in a new-music funk and need something to shake it, chances are you’ll find some new songs on Upbeat.
Until Apple offers musicians the same direct access to iTunes that developers have for the App Store, third-party solutions will be critical for independent artists. DistroKid is a simple service that places an artist’s music in different online stores for sale, including Amazon, Google, and Spotify. As simple and easy to use as the service is, the pricing is equally as easy to understand.
The service offers the ability to upload a song for free, no credit card required, as well as get unlimited music into the stores for $20/year. Seems obvious enough, but DistroKid’s pricing is part of what makes it so interesting. Artists retain all their rights, don’t pay a percentage, and don't have to worry about other types of scamming practices. The service can operate affordably thanks to a lot of back-end automation.
Finding concerts in your area has become a piece of cake with plenty of apps that scan your music library and know your tastes instantly. Jukely approaches the concert from a different angle than most before it, however, and takes on a promoter’s interests. Jukely wants to find the best concerts for you, at the same time hand-picking venues that host the best shows.
As concert venues head online, there’s more of a need to get people to come to live shows and support touring artists. Jukely incorporates hand-picked curation in addition to back-end algorithms to deliver great picks right to your phone.
Turntable.fm—the online music listening room—finally crashed and burned, but out of the ashes came Turntable Live. Aiming to be the future of concerts, the site broadcasts live shows from its NYC office, charging viewers a small fee which most of goes to the band performing.
It depends on who you ask whether this model will work, possibly angering those die-hard concertgoers, but it’s the best effort to date. There are a lot of threats and potential for online concerts that charge money, but very few beyond Turntable Live has actually made an effort.
Whyd is like Facebook, if Facebook was exclusively for music and wasn’t the butt of every joke. On Whyd you get a stream of new music being added and collected by people you follow, being able to see things like which playlists they add them to. For music enthusiasts head-deep into searching for new music, one of the most helpful things is a community of people doing the same thing, and Whyd facilitates that.
What makes Whyd interesting beyond a solid experience for music nerds is the bookmarklet which scrapes songs from most sites and allows you to track, save, and remember artists you find intriguing. The tool isn’t perfect, but it works as well as you’d hope.
While the service is still in beta, those interested can use this link to gain entrance to the service.
When iTunes Radio launched with iOS 7, it meant that every iPhone, iPod, and iPad now sold comes with a built-in radio function. Beyond the tired debate comparing Pandora or other radio services, just having a new device from one of the world’s biggest manufactures come loaded with direct access to unlimited music, for free out of the box, is a big deal.
Unlike the other apps and services listed, Twitter #music is interesting for a host of depressing reasons. No one could have guessed that in the same year the app launched that it would basically be scrapped for parts. We haven't seen the last of a music push by Twitter, but when it does refocus, it’ll look a lot different than it first did in March of 2013.
[Image: Flickr user Mel Schmidt]