By Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
For the type of music fan who grew up playing music, haunting record stores, hosting college radio shows, experimenting with file sharing, and then ultimately discovering the wide world of music apps, there has never been a better time to be a music fan.
We have more ways to discover music — and better ways to fulfill our obsessions with what we discover — than the music fans of any other era ever had (collecting that music is a different story).
The world is our oyster, and we hardcore music fans are the insatiable walrus.
This level of fandom is not for everyone, however. Some people don’t obsess about new artists, old favorite albums, the latest reviews, and so on, for whatever reason. They might not even have a list of desert island discs, a favorite jam of the week – or even (gasp) a favorite band!
If, like gymnast McKayla Maroney and president Barack Obama pictured above, you’re not too impressed by music (although the latter is a verified music fan), have no fear — the below apps are here to help. They don’t even require you to pick an artist to just start some music playing already.
Disclaimer: These apps might also make sense for people who really like music, but just can’t be bothered to pick some at the moment. However, they’re just about perfect for those whose relationship with vibrating air is less than all consuming.
“I just like something I can dance to.” “I like upbeat stuff for jogging.” “Whatever my friends are into.”
If this is how you approach music, Songza is perfect for you. The site — also available in app form — assembles handmade playlists from a large user base, and then filters them into useful categories. First, you pick the time (usually whatever time it currently is where you are), and then choose from a number of options like “working to a beat” or “keeping calm and mellow.” In no time, you’ll be listening to something that fits your parameters, even if you didn’t read every article on Pitchfork this week.
Along the lines of Songza, Stereomood puts a simple, non-musical front end on the tens of millions of songs that we all have access to at just about any time. As the name suggests, you get a bunch of playlists sorted by mood — “in love,” “sunny day,” “sleepy,” and so on. For added variety, you can sort these by Featured, Hot This Week, Popular, or Casual Vibes. Once you pick a playlist and find a song, you can continue your explorations by clicking one of the tags people have added to the song, checking out similar artists, or similar moods — or even people who are in a similar mood to yours.
Billed as the “world’s first image-based streaming music app,” MoodSnap for iOS presents the world of music as a series of images. The one with the hand resting on a book in the sun is for reading; the one of the person waking up in bed is for the morning; the one with the couple appearing in close proximity in a relative state of undress is for, well, you get the idea. That’s it, quite literally — you can’t search by artist, genre, or anything else — just by image. However, each playlist is collaborative, so you can add your suggestions to any of the lists.
There is a catch; Moodsnap requires Spotify Premium, like all other Spotify iOS apps, so you have to like music enough to pay $10 a month for it.
The above services are all for streaming radio. However, even people who aren’t serious music fans know what they want to listen to. For these people, who would never consider dropping the cost of 2.5 lattes per month ($10) for instant access to most of the world’s recorded music, a free option exists for on-demand: YouTube. It can compete with any on-demand subscription service in terms of catalog — actually, it’s better in that regard, because it has subscription music holdouts like The Beatles and Thom Yorke’s Atoms for Peace.
Yes, YouTube is a bit kluge-y for collecting music into playlists, but such a thing is possible. The biggest drawback to using it as an on-demand music service: If you turn your phone’s screen off, the song stops. Also, if you want the best audio quality, you might have to increase the video quality.
Twitter #Music, the music app everyone loves to make a big deal out of, attack, analyze, learn from, and/or defend, offers a unique window into, well, the music on Twitter. It can be a powerful tool for the serious music fan — but for the person who doesn’t really like music that much, it has much to offer, including a quick way to hear the superstars of the moment. And if you have the free desktop version of Spotify, you can run the whole thing there, so all the tracks play in full, for free.
(Top image courtesy of Twitter/whitehouse)