Sunday, March 02, 2008

New (to me) music apps - part three

It's fair to say that since I made the move from BBC Audio & Music to BBC Vision (almost a year ago now), I've posted a whole lot less on audio-related stuff. As a result my feed is now brimming with interesting new (at least to me) unblogged music apps, so I figured it was time for another installment in this occasional series. Below are five apps which have particularly tickled my fancy in recent months.


Moody is a small but perfectly formed desktop app (Mac or PC, although the Mac version is more fully-featured) which enables you to tag tracks in your iTunes library according to mood. The interface is a 4 x 4 multi-coloured grid with the horizontal axis representing a spectrum from Sad to Happy and the vertical axis ranging from Calm to Intense. So a track like Homesick by Kings of Convenience would most likley be tagged purple (bottom left - v. sad and v. calm), whereas Tubthumping by Chumbawamba would be tagged yellow (top right - relentlessly happy and intense). Arguably one for the Nick Hornbys amongst us as you need to put in a bit of tagging legwork to get maximum value out of it (it is possible to download other people's tags, although there's no saying their tagging criteria will match yours).


What marks FIQL out from other playlist sharing communities is the recent addition of video, pulling in (mostly YouTube) videos to match the tracks in the playlist. Whilst its only ever as good as the tagging on YouTube, the random nature of the videos is strangely compelling - you never know if you're going to get an artist's official video or a bedroom cover version. Below is an embed of some of my favourite music videos of all time (see earlier post on Top 20 best music videos ever).


MeeMix bills itself as "Internet radio that gets you" and the homepage invites users to "start playing the soundtrack of your life, here and now". Soundbites aside, MeeMix is a decent personalised jukebox in the Pandora mold with a slick, if slightly cutesy, interface. You can create new stations by entering the name of an artist or track and then rate tracks using a Hot or Not slider. There's also a Mood Control panel with Pulse and Surprise Me sliders, enabling you to adjust the tempo and serendipity of the suggestions.


Mixaloo is an online playlist creator, positioning itself as the digital successor to the analogue mix-tape. Users are invited to select between 10 and 15 songs (from a library of over 3 million) and then share/promote their mix (via a selection of embeddable widgets - see below) with the added incentive of a revenue share on any resulting purchases. Whilst 3 million tracks sounds like a lot, in reality the library feels frustratingly limited - mix-tapes by their nature tend to include more obscure tracks and Mixaloo's catalogue is decidedly mainstream. Still, it's nice to have an alternative to Apple's iMixes, with the added bonus that some tracks are available to listen to in their entirety (rather than just a 30-second preview).


You wouldn't guess it from the name but Songkick is all about tracking tour dates for your favourite artists, which you can either enter manually via the site's 'Band Manager' or get automatically scraped from your music library by the downloadable Songkicker plug-in. Whilst it's potentially a bit of a one-trick pony, the site does offer an appealing alternative to sifting through multiple email updates from assorted ticketing companies (NB. Currently only covers the US and the UK).

Related fabric of folly posts:
Next generation music discovery
New (to me) music apps
New (to me) music apps - part two

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