“Napster works because people who love music share and participate,” said Shawn Fanning, founder of Napster. While the original Napster provided a means for individuals to share music online and for free, it also led to users infringing copyright. The original Napster ultimately met its match in the face of a coalition of record companies, but music sharing hasn’t stopped, in fact, it has adapted. Companies have found innovative ways to share so that everyone benefits, including the artists.
A quick Google search will bring up hundreds of music sharing sites, but the key to success is to have the most artists, the newest tracks and the ability for users to share their experience with friends — the social aspect.
While some of the bigger platforms, like Spotify and Pandora, aren’t available in Canada there are a handful that stand out. Your listening style will depict which one you like best.
When Justin Timberlake announced he bought into the $35 million Myspace deal last year, heads turned in hopes he would revive it. The new beta version of Myspace was released this January and it certainly looks revived, but has carried some of the same issues it had before.
One of the most annoying things about Myspace is all of the pseudo accounts on the site. A search for Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP) brought up 12 accounts under the same name. Keep an eye out for the little blue-and-white V to find official artist pages. The other problem with Myspace is the lack of music on the site. Using the same RHCP example, the band’s official page only has four songs.
The one thing I do like about Myspace is the ability to create custom mixes by connecting to tracks and adding them to your playlist. You have to invest time in order to build that list, but make it a good one and you can listen to it repeatedly.
Soundcloud is arguably the best music sharing site out there. According to Soundcloud they have over 10 million registered users, which perks artists’ marketing ears. Add to that the simple, user-friendly design and social aspect (commenting on tracks, adding your Facebook contacts, etc.) and it’s easy to see why Soundcloud’s such a popular platform.
The best thing about Soundcloud is that it’s the site to release new tracks on. You can find stuff on there that never made it on an album, or a mix that hasn’t been released elsewhere. Check out Paul McCartney’s page as an example.
If Soundcloud had Myspace’s search menu then it would be a perfect site. It can be cumbersome to randomly find new music on the site, whereas Myspace offers categorized lists of suggestions that are similar to the artists you listen to.
If you like to rock the radio, but get tired of hearing the same stuff over and over again, then check out Jango. You can listen to it on your computer or via their free mobile application.
Like Soundcloud, Jango is simple to use and has a ton of options. Preset playlists like Today’s Top 100 or Indie Rock do all the work for you.
The advertising on Jango is, however, maddening. Pop-up alerts interrupt listening even when you sign in through Facebook in order to hold those ads off. Otherwise, Jango’s a great option with tons of music from all different genres.
Last.fm runs on something called The Scrobbler, which means it takes information from your computer or iPod and uses that to customise your listening preferences. While it does seem intrusive, Last.fm is great because it builds your library for you. Artist pages bring up tracks, albums, videos, concert listings and a virtual record shop where you can buy MP3s.
A cool option on Last.fm is the “discover your next favourite band” link, which allows you to select a genre and a music player comes up with a playlist of artists you’ve probably never heard of.
Last.fm is a buyer’s site and it’s hard to listen to much popular music because they want you to buy it first, but there’s a good radio option.
Whether you’re looking for new music or you want to compile playlists of your favourite tracks and share it all on Facebook, music sharing is a great thing for listeners and artists alike. And it’s legal.