in Projects, Programming, Technology

Top 10 Music Tools of 2004

This year music met the Web. I almost stopped buying CD’s completely, yet I discovered more bands than ever before. Rather than listing my top 10 albums or tracks here, I’ve decided to list my top 10 music tools.

1. Mercora

Mercora is a streaming music player that allows you to play your music to listeners around the world. The music streams directly from your computer to theirs (or vice versa – even simultaneously). The software regulates how often you play any given song – in order to keep it all legal.

I especially like the ability to find broadcasts similar to my own. Also, you can search on an artist and find which broadcasters are currently playing them.

Normally, starting an internet radio station requires finding a server and paying for bandwidth. Not so with Mercora. I love it! Find my broadcast by searching for “djloving”.

2. Napster (or iTunes, Rhapsody, take your pick)

See my Napster love letter here.

3. Audioscrobbler

Audioscrobbler builds a profile of your musical taste using a plugin for your media player (Windows Media Player, Winamp, iTunes, etc.). A plug in sends the name of every song you play to the Audioscrobbler server, which updates your musical profile with the new song. Based on what you have listened to, you can get recommendations of other bands to listen to. I’m embarrassed that Moby is in my top 10, but the scrobbler doesn’t lie. Also, I accidentally left The Clash playing over night – forever ranking them in my top 10.

Here are 10 of my favorite albums of 2004.

What I actually listened to this year:

1 Zero 7

2 The Clash

3 Massive Attack

4 DJ Mark Farina

5 Muse

5 Goldfrapp

5 Four Tet

8 Moby

8 Greyboy

10 Moloko

4. WebJay

This is a simple tool that allows you to collect links to legal, freely available music files and create a playlist. Check out my Imaginary Radio playlist.

5. Three Imaginary Girls

Still not on the cutting edge? Want to know what’s going to be hot next week? Quality writing, ruthless coverage.

6. FinalScratch

This is the ultimate gadget for DJs who like to spin records. With a FinalScratch device and two special records – you can cue any song on your lap top. Genius.

7. BBC Radio Feeds

Bury me with it.

8. MusicMap (see also MusicPlasma)

These sites create visual graphs of the relationships between bands. Another fun way to discover new ones.

9. Power MP3 Recorder

This application is great for recording internet radio to an MP3 file. It works like a tape recorder, recording the sound as it comes out of your audio card. The feature that makes this recorder a must have is the ability to split files when silence is detected. This means you can record one audio stream to multiple files – one per song.

10. Audacity

Audacity is a free sound editing tool. It is a full featured editing tool that works well with large files. Specifically, I use it to cut up my practice DJ mixes into individual tracks. My favorite feature is the ability to open MP3 files and edit them without ever having to convert them to wav files.

11. One to watch in 2005: Weed

This Seattle company creates files that you can listen to 3 times, but you need to purchase (usually $.99) before listening to a fourth time. Furthermore, if you then send that song on to a friend, and they buy it, you get 20%. This just feels like the right recipe to me. Sharing is rewarded, sampling is free, bands get distribution with no costs, and if you like a song enough to listen to it 4 times – it is time to pay for it. Currently, weed has few big name bands, but music on the Web is just getting started.

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