Friday, September 28, 2012

A Guide To Music Blog Powered Apps

Eliot Van

Music blogs were once at the forefront of the promising field of allowing people to express their musical taste all over the world. They still are, actually. But for people who don’t have time to read hundreds or thousands or even one music blog every day, their relevance has faded for a number of reasons — among them that Facebook scrobbles everything our friends listen to on a variety of services so we can find out about stuff that way, and because there are so many taste-defining apps that let us find out about new tunes more efficiently than by combing through individual blog posts.

However, the influence of music blogs is still felt — perhaps most of all, ironic as it might sound, by mainstream users who would never think to bookmark a music blog and check back each day for the latest goodies. Blog aggregators have been around for a while, gathering the best of the blogs into one central place. But these days, rather than collating their text-based opinions into one place, they’re more likely to gather up individual music blog posts like a whale scooping krill out of the ocean, processing them into ready-to-use music services with play buttons.

Here are a few of the cutting-edge music recommendation apps that rely on the work of hundreds or thousands of music bloggers all over the world.

Old School, Still Cool
Here we have the progenitors of this helpful breed of big music things.

The Hype Machine (web | iOS | Spotify): You can use The Hype Machine in so many ways, it’s like theGinsu knife of listening to music blogs. It processesnearly a thousand music blogs, the last time we checked, outputting them in one big list. More efficiently, you can check out the latest songs in the genre of your choice, see what’s popular in a given week, check out the Zeitgeist of the previous year, or hear all the latest posts in just six minutes. If you use Spotify or iOS, the dedicated apps for those offer even slicker ways to tune in to the blogosphere without actually, you know, reading anything, although The Hype Machine is fairly good about linking through to blogs, should you want to read up on what you’re listening to. (web): Another long-in-the-tooth blog aggregator, includes the familiar “blogging of blogs” format that asks you to scroll through a long list of the latest posts from the 4,068 blogs it currently monitors. More interesting from the perspective of turning all of that stuff into something you can process easily, the site includes Hot Artists, Hot Tracks, Hot Videos, Hot Posts, and Hot Blogs (scroll down here).
New Interfaces

The following music blogifiers deviate from the old-school methodology of including a long list of posts by slapping a new, often intriguing interface onto them — or by slicing and dicing the world’s music blogs in a new or unique way.

We Are Hunted (web, Spotify, Android, iOS [mobile web only], Winamp): This oft-imitated, tiles-in-a-grid, side-scrolling interface shows you, at a glance, what people are talking about on blogs (and Twitter). If you want to delve into a particular area, you can visit the emerging, mainstream,remix, rock, alternative/indie, pop, electronic, folk, metal, or rap/hip-hop charts. Other options include playlists, based on popular, most played, and most shared. Or, if you’re really lazy, which of course you are, because the robots are supposed to do much of this sort of work for us now, you can click the Discovery tab to create a playlist based on your Facebook profile, Twitter handle, a wizard that asks you to rate tracks, or an instant playlist that asks you to input an artist. No matter what you’re doing, the interface looks pretty great.

Stereomood (web, Android, iOS): This newly revamped entry takes the novel approach of asking how you feel, then responding with a mood-based playlist. Or, you can decide how you feel — or how you want to feel. All of the playlists are based on 150 music blogs, and the company claims that all the music comes from indie bands or labels. However, given the ties of most “indie” labels these days to major labels, and that even stalwarts like Trent Reznor have signed with majors, we’re not so sure about that. Regardless, it’s a fascinating way to put hundreds of music blogs into your ear with a click of the mouse or a tap of the touchscreen.

“Music Reviewers”
Some publications refer to themselves as publications instead of blogs. These typically have editors, and sometimes publish print editions on paper made from dead trees or recycled materials. However, in most cases, you can’t actually hear the music… unless they have a Spotify app.

Any Decent Music (web | Spotify): This website and its corresponding Spotify app examine over 50 publications from all over the world, distilling their reviews and ratings by hand into one big, rated list of new releases. The web version has some advantages, in that you can see which specific tracks the critics are loving, as well as the newest albums to make a critical splash. But when it comes to raw functionality, the Spotify version is far superior because you can, you know, actually hear the music.

Metacritic (web): Part of, which is part of CNET, which is part of CBS Interactive, which is part of CBS, Metacritic scans the opinions of “the most respected critics writing online” and mashes all of what they do into a single numerical score. The site now lets mere mortals (i.e. regular users) add their opinions to the mix as well, and you can choose to view the best albums according to the pro critics or other Metacritic users. You can also check out the scores for just your favorite genre. However, you can’t hear any of it on Metacritic itself. Hey, maybe people should start blogging about music, so you can hear the music they’re talking about! Which brings us back to…

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