Online Music Networks

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As a giant red blimp floats past my window ( true ), new music networks continue to sprout online, providing evermore ways to discover new sounds. Some blimpside reflections on a few of ’em. ( WARNING :: EXTREME TIME WASTING LINKS FOLLOW )

Online Radio Stations
The smarter of the traditional radio stations don’t just merely replicate their existing audio online, but nurture their community of listeners, giving them reasons to return : eg lots of background information and links ( given radio stations do this research already, all that is happening is making that visible to public ), and a chance to communicate : to the station, to each other, or even in the form of contributing material to the radio station itself.

WFMU (east coast U.S. ) – is a stellar example of a radio station building on it’s strengths, and diversifying online, their blog an endless source of unusual sound they send out online as well as via radiowaves.

Independent Sydney (www.fbi.org.au & www.2ser.com ) & Melbourne radio stations ( www.rrr.org.au & www.3cr.org.au ), have good online presence, but haven’t yet fully embraced the possibilities of online community.

Unsurprisingly with their resources, the likes of BBC Radio 1 – offer a full splash of ways for listeners to engage. SomaFM and many, many others can be found @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Internet_stations

Radio stations native to the internet tend to favour playlists of music, the better sites allowing easy construction of your own station, and exploration of artists and genres. eg live365.com : “Free high-capacity streaming, MP3 netcasting and 100MB Web space.” ( Advertising driven, and unskippable ads start every show )

Shoutcast.com (PC) and Nicecast ( mac ) allow anybody to set up their own live radio streams, something which quickly chews up available bandwidth. Which is where the free and open source http://peercast.org/
software can come in ( for mac, pc & linux ), allowing the bandwidth of the users to help distribute the stream.

Podcasts
As well as a regular stream live radio on their sites, many radio stations are including ‘podcasts’ – regularly updated audio files which can be downloaded and listened to whenever you like, as well as if you wish – subscribed to and automatically downloaded whenever they are updated. The ease with which audiences can be updated with podcasts has effectively turned any bedroom producer effectively into their own radio station, and Podfeed.net outlines the crazy huge number of podcasts available – in all manner of music and talkback flavours. Podcasterswiki.com has the pointers needed for making your own.

Mp3 Blogs
Constant barrages of handpicked music to download, and enthused ramblings about the freshest, most esoteric, sub-genre splintering music can be found a-sprawling across the networks of mp3 blogs continuing to explode. Every mp3blog that’s a treasure to find, inevitably has another 3-4 ‘must-subscribes’ linked in it’s sidebar. Some recent fave additions :

Word The Cat : drty shdws prjkt : Analoggiant : Palms Out : Record Brother :

Collective Taste
With so much music floating around online now, it makes sense to try and find better ways of exploring that sheer volume. In that respect two of the most interesting online music heavyweights are Last.fm and pandora.com, both smartly leveraging the combined tastes in all of their members to help each member discover music they haven’t heard before – but which would likely appeal to them. Both have slightly different approaches in how they determine what music you like, and have different approaches to their social networks, but in the end both offer website ad supported free and continuous radio streams – based on your tastes, and how well those tastes can be matched against others who like tracks you like. Both are surprisingly and addictively effective at turning up new artists you hadn’t heard of yet, but the Last.fm interface is vastly superior, encouraging ( or nearly insisting ) that a vast array of networks are explored, friends added, groups joined, music discovered.

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