Category Archives: Cool Sites

Reinventing the Cassette

You might remember those little plastic music-playing devices — the ones with the black ribbons in them that, when entered into a certain device would result in your favorite tunes. Tapes. Cassettes. They went the way of the dinosaurs sometime in the early 90′s.

But that doesn’t mean they are completely useless. I suppose you could put a piece of scotch tape over the little holes at the top and record on them again, like I did with my copy of White Lion’s Pride. But one artist has found an entirely new, cooler use for them. Known on Flickr as iri5, this artist takes old cassettes (which means ‘little box’ in French) and spins the tape into these incredible works of art. No, this is not photoshop but the real deal. And it’s impressive stuff.

To the right is one of my favorites, Robert Nesta Marley. Check out iri5′s Flickr gallery for the entire collection, where you will find John Lennon, Michael Jackson, and many, many more.

Stream History’s Best Concerts with Wolfgang’s Vault

If you’re a live music fan and wolfgang's vaulthaven’t yet heard of Wolfgang’s Vault, it’s time to get acquainted. This site lets you stream some of history’s best concerts and includes such rock stalwarts as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones, to name a few. But there are also shows from more recent acts.

Visit the website and create an account, then click “Browse Concerts >> All Performers” and you’ll find an enormous alphabetical list – click one, scroll down, and click “play.” A pop-up window will show up, listing all the tracks, length, and giving you the option to switch between songs. You can also share concerts with friends, via email.

Concerts in Wolfgang’s Vault are usually of the highest quality, so you won’t hear intrusive background noise. However, it’s the full concert experience. For example, an Allman Brothers concert on New Year’s Eve includes the countdown to midnight. Not all concerts are full-length, but there are plenty of them. The Allman Brothers have more than a dozen concerts from 1973 all the way to 1993.

This is an excellent way to get your live music fix, and the closest you’ll ever get to experiencing historic live performances from some of rock’s biggest acts. It’s impressive and a hell of a lot of fun. Oh, and did I mention you could download these concerts? Some of them are even free.

This week, Wolfgang’s Vault added a nice Muddy Waters show. Giggity.

Stream Free, Legal Music with Grooveshark.com

The new Grooveshark.com lets you stream free music – without interruption.

As much as we love Web radio stations like those available from Pandora.com, Slacker.com and Last.fm, the one thing they all lack is total control. That’s where Grooveshark comes in handy. You can stream virtually any music you want – for free – without any advertising interruptions. Grooveshark’s catalog is huge so, while you might not find absolutely every band you want, you will come close. It’s fast, easy and almost limitless. You pick the bands and songs you want, and build playlists to listen to and share with friends.

For artists, you can set up a Grooveshark profile to help get your music discovered. There are advertising options, analytics to show how people are interacting with your music, and more.

Watch the video below. We show you how to get started streaming the music you want with Grooveshark.

Road Test: New SPIN Magazine iPhone Apps

SPIN magazine rolled out a couple of new iPhone apps – and they’re delivering music reviews, live video, news and more.

Like all other magazines in the digital age, SPIN has struggled to keep its print audience. Wisely, they have rushed full-force into the online arena and they’re doing it quite well. Not only do they offer a website loaded with great information and multimedia, but also a flip-book online magazine that can be delivered via email. More recently, they have released an updated version of their iPhone app and a brand new app, SPINearth.

spinappFirst, the standard app offers an easy, quick way to see what’s new with SPIN. The app gives a one-button link to album reviews, news and photos. The reviews are up-to-date with the SPIN website and provide a quick link to iTunes where you can preview and purchase songs and albums. The news section gives quick, easy-to-read versions of the online content. And the photos are presented nicely, featuring snapshots from recent concerts and the like – turn your iPhone sideways to get a landscape view, flick the screen to see the next photo and click a button to get captions.

SPIN’s new iPhone app, SPINearth, has serious potential. Through a team of dozens of international and local correspondents, SPINearth offers live video of concerts from around the world. For example, I just finished watching a video of Pearl Jam and Chris Cornell perform “Hunger Strike” from their Temple of the Dog days at a recent concert at Gibson Amphitheater. The video itself was jumpy as hell – to be expected from user-generated videos, I guess. There are also updates from the correspondents as they travel and other interesting features.

Now the bad news. The SPINearth app crashes, and videos don’t always load. Also it’s a hog on the already-feeble iPhone battery. This app is a work in progress, so some bugs are to be expected. That said, it’s a great start.

Nice work, SPIN. Your move, Rolling Stone.

The Best Music Website You’re Not Using

While iTunes is the clear leader in the music download space (at least legally) it has one major flaw. It’s those pesky 30-second previews. That’s 30 measly seconds to decide if a song is worth a dollar or more. Good songs are so much more than 30 seconds – not  to mention entire albums.

Well, Lala.com has your back. They have more than 7 million songs in their catalog and you can stream any of them once in their entirety, for free. The same goes for albums. Yep, listen to an entire album for free before spending a dime. And that’s not all:

  • Buy any song for 10 cents and stream it forever through your computer. If you want to download it for portability, it’s 79 cents more and DRM-free.
  • Get picks from artists and music reviewers delivered daily, share songs with friends, listen to their playlists, and network with other music fans.
  • If you want to make the switch to Lala full-time, they can import all of your music from your hard drive and get your library up and running.

No website offers a way to listen to and buy music like Lala. Where iTunes holds you hostage, Lala sets you free.

Two Free Music Websites for Every Music Fan

The Web is freakishly fantastic place to listen to music. There are any number of sites from which to choose, but the two best shine in their simplicity. Whether you’re into jazz, metal, classical or rock & roll, the following websites will keep your feet tapping as long as you want them to. And the best part … they’re easy to use and 100% free. Hopefully it stays that way.

pandorascreen11. Pandora.com (requires e-mail signup)

There are tons of good music recommendation sites online, but none as simple as Pandora. It works like this: Type in a band you like or even a song and Pandora will start playing that music, followed by tunes with similar qualities. That’s it. Pandora will stream music – some you will already know, some will be new to you – with limited interruption. There’s a commercial every dozen songs or so, but other than that, you can just sit back and listen.

When you’re ready for a change, type in something new and Pandora will create a new “station.” You can further customize your stations by voting thumbs up or down – a thumbs up will repeat the track later on, while a thumbs down will never play that song again on that station.

Pandora also has some other cool features if you want to interact. There are band bios while a song plays, as well as album information, lyrics, suggested similar artists and more. You can bookmark artists and buy songs too.

I find Pandora particularly useful at work. Plug in your headphones and click a button and you have your day’s soundtrack. Same goes for parties, if you’re iPod is a little stale and you have a good sound system with your computer.

songzascreen12. Songza.com (no registration required)

Songza is basically the Google of music. Enter a song and you’ll see a list of choices. Through community voting, usually the best recording is at or near the top of the list. But you’ll also find live recordings and video will play, if there’s one available.

Songza can’t be beat for when you wake up with that killer tune in your head and just have to hear it. Once you find it, you have a few interactive options. You can rate the recording, to influence ranking results. You can also get a link to the song, post it to your Facebook profile it, send it as a Twitter update, or e-mail it to a friend. Like Pandora, you can also buy the song.

One nice feature for you bloggers out there, is that you can embed the song or video – like you’ll see below of “Diablo Rojo” (it’s about a roller coaster) by the amazing duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. If you haven’t seen it – watch it.

If you sign up with Songza, you can also create and save playlists. You can also listen to other users’ playlists.

Two quick tips: First, try typing in the name of an artist instead of a song. You’ll get a long list of that band’s songs. Hit “play” on the first one and they will all stream back-to-back. Second, if you have trouble finding a song (which is rare) type the song and the artist in the search box. If you absolutely can’t find the song you want, head to Grooveshark.com. They have a large library, but the site is slow and a bit cumbersome.

That’s it. Two sites that should be cemented in every music fan’s browser. Enjoy.

Have your own favorite music sites? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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