Discover 4 New Places to Find Free Music Online

Remember a time when the only way to discover new music was listening to the radio or asking your friends?  With the growing list of ways to find music online, that sure seems like ancient history now!

We were in awe when Spotify was released, a perfect equation of one-part Pandora and one-part iTunes, with practically every song you think of available for free and instant streaming.  Unfortunately, for those who downloaded the service when its first US release came out in July 2011, your streaming access will soon be capped to just 10 hours per month.

Still, you don’t have to worry – there are many other options for finding music.  Facebook, for example, has been rolling out its “Listen With Friends” feature, allowing friends to listen to songs simultaneously.

Still need more options?  Here are 4 more ideas for finding music online:

Google Music
Google Music may not have as much free music as either Spotify or MOG, but every day it offers new songs and albums from big-name artists that users can download to their computers for free. Moreover, users can upload up to 20,000 of their own songs to Google Music for free to stream from any computer or mobile device. This way, you don’t have to waste any of your allotted time on services such as Spotify listening to music you already have.

Like Google Music, RCRD Label lets you stream and download new tracks from established and lesser-known artists for free every day. There’s no membership fee or subscription; all you have to do is create a free account and you can download the tracks, no strings attached. The site’s selection is much smaller than the others on the list, but then again, the point of it is to discover new artists whose catalogs you can listen to elsewhere.
Calling Turntable a music streaming service misses the point somewhat. In reality, Turntable is a virtual hangout space that just happens to be built around music. Users create avatars for themselves and can join or create music rooms of their choice, each centered around a different genre, where users take turn playing the role of DJ and chatting with other users. It’s probably not the right service for someone who just wants to passively listen to a few songs while at work, but the site does offer the potential to discover artists and new friends, all for no cost.

When all else fails, there’s always YouTube. If there’s an artist or song you want to listen to, chances are YouTube has it — it just may not always be studio quality.

Will you be paying for a Spotify membership once they start capping the free music, or will you turn to other services?  What other ways do you find music online?

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5 More Awesome iPhone Music Apps

Photo by cdharrison, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

5 More Awesome iPhone Music Apps

What a year for Apple – iPhone sales are still through the roof, Siri continues to be a hot topic, and Steve Jobs is now being recognized with a posthumous Grammy award for his part in revolutionizing the music industry.  Nowadays our smartphones help us with anything and everything, it seems; it’s hard to imagine living without them!

But besides organizing our calendars and feeding our Angry Birds addiction, the iPhone is a great resource for music teachers and music fans alike.  Check out our original list of 5 apps for music lovers – now, here are 5 more especially great music apps for teachers to check out, courtesy of

1. ACappella – This simple song recording app can be used to record voices into tracks that can be played at the same time or one by one. The user can adjust the volume, tempo, and time signature. The app was designed for ease of sharing files: song URL’s can be posted to Facebook and Twitter or shared on a special website called “SingSing.” ($1.99)

2. Notes for Little Composers – Designed for ages 3 and up, this app can be used to introduce beginners to music notation and basic composition. The user taps on the treble clef screen to make notes, hear the names of notes, and create simple songs. Ideal as an accompaniment to starting music lessons. ($0.99)

3. Ear Trainer – This app is designed for beginning to advanced music students, and provides exercises on intervals, chords, scales, and relative pitch. A virtual piano keyboard helps you recognize the notes that have been played. Individual progress is tracked so that users can pinpoint areas of strength or weakness. ($6.99)

4. ImproVox– Record your voice into your device and create harmonies as you sing. This app demonstrates effects such as reverb and echo, and enables you to generate 4-part harmonies in different styles. ($3.99)

5. TabToolkit – This guitar tablature and notation viewer can be used for learning guitar and practicing music. The interface shows a fret board or keyboard with finger positions and/or standard music notation. Upload tabs from your computer or download from the Internet. ($4.99)

What other music apps do you love?  Leave a comment below!

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Image courtesy of–iphone-89811/app

5 Unique Music Gifts for the Season

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you know that today is Black Friday, officially marking the beginning of the holiday shopping season.  If you didn’t make it out to all the midnight madness last night, don’t worry – you still have some time.  But instead of procrastinating until the very last minute this year (we know some of you out there are guilty!), why not get a head start?  We know there’s bound to be someone on your list who’s notoriously difficult to shop for, and we’re here to help.  Read on to see some unique ideas for the music-lover in your life, courtesy of the Houston Press’s list,15 Odd Christmas Gift Ideas for Musicians:

1.  DIY Guitar Pick Punch

Nothing is more useless than a guitarist without a guitar pick. Save yourself a few practice-room shouting matches with this handy punch that turns old credit cards, Xbox game cases, military IDs and lapsed health insurance cards into functional guitar picks. Toss this baby into the gig bag, and you’ll never have to bum a pick off your bassist again.

2. Build Your Own Ukelele Kit

The ukulele gets a bad rap. Sure, it was the favored instrument of Tiny Tim, but it’s also been twanged by the likes of George Harrison and Eric Clapton. Even the most jaded musician will gain a new appreciation for the uke after building and decorating his or her own courtesy of this nifty DIY kit. With the New York Times writing stories about them and Hawaii 5-0 back on the air, it’s only a matter of time before these amazing instruments become megapopular again.

3. Playable Synthesizer T-Shirt

By widely accepted generalization, indie musicians have two major turn-ons: Vintage musical instruments and graphic tees. Whomever you give this playable synth t-shirt to may well go into hipster overload as he or she bangs out “Axel F” in eight-voice polyphonic sound. On their T-SHIRT.

4. iKlip iPad Music Holder

​Sheet music is so 19th century. In the dawning digital era, all sight-reading will be performed using high-definition, rare-earths-rich LED touchscreens. Prepare the musician in your life for the promised day when performers will be able to afford tablet computers with this handy iPad music holder! Finally, they’ll be able to say goodbye to shuffling pages, illegal photocopies and agonizing papercuts. At least until music stands become retro-chic, anyway.

5. Numark iDJ Live Software Controller

​Back before entire music libraries fit on a single iPod, DJs used to create mixes using vinyl records. Now that iPods are also almost obsolete, this digital iPad controller will let your friends use modern musical technology to create their own mash-ups using turntables, just like the disc jockeys of old did. Just plug in an iPad and scratch, chop and screw tracks straight from iTunes.

We hope these ideas make your holiday shopping a bit less stressful.  Still stumped?  Don’t forget the gift of music lessons, whether it’s to sharpen a skill, extra help for an audition, or simply to try something new!

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5 Things Siri Can’t Help You Do On The iPhone

With the iPhone 4S now on the market, it’s hard to get away from all of the hype.  The iPhone has been a game-changer from the very first release in 2007, with its extensive app market and now with its very own digital personal assistant, Siri.  But believe it or not, there are some things Siri can’t help you with.  Try asking her to tune your guitar, or find out the name of that new Mumford & Sons song that is always on the radio.

So what’s a musician to do?  Luckily, the iPhone still has a ton of music-related apps that aren’t going anywhere.

Last week we discussed Bjork’s new album, which has been released with corresponding apps.  Rihanna has her own version, with her Talk That Talk album released in Facebook app form, allowing fans to unlock pieces of the album by performing certain tasks.   Now that apps are becoming the “next big thing,” we can’t wait to see what other creative uses artists will think up.

Even if you’re not releasing an album, there are tons of awesome iPhone Apps that will rock your music-loving world.  Here are 5 that we think top the charts:

1. Pandora Radio
Pandora is the go-to streaming music app for a lot of mobile and web users. The service the app accesses uses advanced recommendation algorithms to play music for you that matches your tastes. It builds custom stations around your favorite artists, and those stations are refined as you give it feedback about which tracks and artists you love and which ones you hate.
The app is simple as can be; just type in the name of a song or artist, and music starts playing that’s either by that artist or someone Pandora’s algorithm deems similar. Enjoy the beats and melodies, and bookmark songs you like so you can buy them through download services.
Price: Free

2. Ocarina
One of the first music-making apps, Ocarina has hardly waned in popularity. It’s just what you would guess — a digital ocarina. You blow into the microphone as you would blow into the ocarina, and the touchscreen has dots in place of an ocarina’s holes. Additionally, Ocarina has a globe view that lets you see and listen to performances by other people who are using the app all over the world.
App developer Smule runs an online forum full of notation to help Ocarina fans figure out songs. The songs are mostly user-submitted and they cover a wide range of styles. However, because the ocarina instrument received a boost in popularity after it was featured in the very popular video game The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, there are a bunch of video game songs to be found on the forum.
Price: $0.99

3. Shazam
Shazam’s primary feature is its ability to recognize almost any popular song playing nearby. Just whip out your iPhone or iPod Touch and load up the app when you hear a song you like but don’t recognize, and Shazam will tell you what it is and provide you with information about where to buy it digitally. There’s also a chart of popular songs that will help you find great songs to listen to.
The app can launch Pandora’s streaming service, and it has an elaborate tagging system. You can share your tags with your friends on Twitt er or Facebook. The developer has launched two versions of Shazam. There’s a free version simply called Shazam, and there’s Shazam Encore, which supports unlimited tagging and a few additional features.
Price: Free or $5.99

4. Slacker Radio
Don’t trust computer recommendation algorithms to pick songs out for you? Slacker Radio is an online music streaming service that’s carefully curated by either music experts or other users. It also has artist-themed stations like Pandora does, but it goes about creating them in a completely different way. Download this app and you’ll have access to 2.4 million songs on 100 programmed stations and 10,000 artist stations. We think that’s a great deal at “free.”
Price: Free

5. Pocket Guitar
Pocket Guitar doesn’t have high-end professional features like BeatMaker, but it only costs a dollar — a perfect price for a fun toy. As with Ocarina, the name tells you what you need to know: This app is a pocket-sized guitar simulator. You can pluck and strum the virtual strings using your device’s touchscreen.
There is an impressive array of customization options for a $0.99 app. You can tune each string individually and activate and modify various effects. For example, you can set a delay by the millisecond between 100 milliseconds and 10 seconds, and adjust the level and feedback. You won’t be cranking out any top 40 rock records with this app, but it’s certainly fun.
Price: $0.99

The full top-10 list can be found at the tech blog My Life Scoop.

We the help of these apps, you have music tools at your fingertips at all times – and we hope the curiosity inspires more users to pick up an instrument, take music lessons, or start a career in the music biz.  What apps are we missing?  Let us know in the comment section!

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