"The Internet is the best thing that has ever happened to music in the history of music," said Adam Duritz, lead singer of Counting Crows. "It's just not necessarily the best thing that's happened to record companies because they won't look at it the right way."
There are so many ways to find new music! The problem is sifting through the different services and their limitations as well as the insurmountable amount of music waiting to be discovered.
Traditional, terrestrial radio has largely become a vast, homogenized wasteland of rubbish and the video channels that flourished in the '80s and '90s have abandoned their seat at the table when it comes to spreading the message of music, but before they did they were mere hype machines for a small handful of bands and genres just like their radio counterparts.
Smart phones and high-speed internet access allowed services like Rhapsody and Pandora to spring up and both have their plusses. Spotify has come to the US and I'll confess I'm still trying to make heads and tails of what exactly it does and doesn't do, but it generated excitement among fans seeking new ways to access music.
I've recently discovered a new player in the game and it has stolen countless hours from me: turntable.fm. Turntable is relatively new and still has bugs to work out but the premise service seems to be making listening music a social, legal experience that doesn't discriminate based on genre or popularity (we'll come back to that). I don't know if it's still in "beta" phase but they're working things out and you can get hooked in with an account through Facebook (Turntable's FB pg).
There are a series of "Listening Rooms," often separated by genre or other themes (there are many rooms devoted to music of a given decade, for example). Who decides what gets played? You do! The users.
There are three-to-five DJ slots in any given room and DJ users take turns playing songs that are streamed to everyone in the room. There are thousands of songs to choose from within Turntable's catalog and if you don't see what you want, upload your own MP3 and stream those.
In addition to being a Listening Room, it's also a chat room. Users can discuss the songs and artists being played. Users can also rate a song being played as "Awesome" or "Lame." It's social and democratic, allowing DJs to digitally spin songs they want to champion and share and listeners give instant feedback.
If you think a song is "Awesome," there's no reason you can't access it instantly through iTunes, Amazon, Last.fm, and Spotify. Click on the DJ table as the song plays and you'll reveal links that will connect you with these services. Never again will you have the experience of hearing a song on the radio and have to try and remember it until you're at your computer or music retailer. My wife thinks I've bought a lot of CDs; I shudder at the number I'd have bought if my memory were about 10 seconds longer than it already is.
Five turntables and a chatroom… Turntable.fm is where it's at. Maybe they'll promote me to a SuperUser now...