Music lovers, lend me your ears. I've discovered what I personally consider the ultimate social music experience. Pandora + The Hype Machine = aural bliss.
As a music fanatic with a very broad range of genre taste, any online tool that helps improve my music experience is to be celebrated. If I can use them together, even better. While I like Last.fm it doesn't do such a hot job of introducing me to new music, and especially the hidden indie nuggets that have led me to some of my favorite artists. Pandora and The Hype Machine excel at doing both. And while neither of these are new on their own, I just now discovered the benefits of combining their grooves.
Pandora was launched about eight years ago as part of the Music Genome Project, which the company claims is the "most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken". Pandora's team analyzes the distinct attributes of every song and then connects it in its database with other like music. This information is then used to recommend new music to its listeners, who actually create their own radio stations based on their favorite artists or songs. For example, if I create a station called Frank Sinatra, Pandora will not only play Ol' Blue Eyes as part of this station but will also play songs with similar attributes to Sinatra's music. I could even create a station with a single or even an album.
As I find new artists that I like, I can "bookmark" them and then create radio stations around those, and the new recommendations of music continue. Frank Sinatra is one thing, but imagine my shock when I created a station for Dimmu Borgir and Pandora not only had the band in its musical library but also accurately recommended very similar artists.
The one drawback with Pandora that I must call out is its inability to offer radio outside of the U.S. due to lack of international licensing. This has created a bit of a rise with my Canadian friends who previously used and loved Pandora's predictive qualities. Those listeners who can access Pandora, however, will likely be quite satisfied with the service.
The Hype Machine, created in 2005, works a bit differently. To call it an aggregator would be a massive understatement, but what it does is track hundreds of music blogs worldwide adds uploaded MP3s automatically to a database and then lists them on the front page -- and makes them available via several different RSS feeds. Categories include Latest Tracks from Music Blogs Today, Most Popular Tracks, Hype Spy and there's even an option to create a subscription based on a users' favorite tracks. While Pandora surprises me with some lesser known but phenomenal artists, The Hype Machine has the market cornered in terms of creating a treasure trove of sample music from independent artists. Some are signed bands with label support and others are lesser quality yet still beautiful tracks. If you don't have time to read through all of the individual tracks on the home page or via the RSS feed the site offers a world live radio that streams the latest tracks that are added to the service's database.
I'm sure you can imagine what comes next:
Step 1: Check The Hype Machine to see what new music has been recently aggregated and sample a bunch of stuff. Favorite it, and so on...
Step 2: Head on over to Pandora and create a station around this new artist (so far they've had most that I've sought) and enjoy -- plus get more recommended artists from Pandora based on the attributes of the new song
Step 3: Rinse and repeat
Note that neither site allows you to download the music and both provide the tunes via streaming. Regardless, this is a far cry from my 20-year flashback of sitting in front of my boom box flipping radio stations with the hope of discovering new music to record. With a cassette.
Have a cool social media tool that you want me to check out? Email socialmediatools SHIFT 2 gmail DOT com.