Music News Sites
Like reading about music just as much as listening to it? Don’t blame you. Sometimes the insight gained from an intelligent review, feature article, or in-depth artist interview can add a great deal to the listening experience.
Even though some observers claim music journalism has been "dead" for at least a decade, you can still use this journalistic guide to other instances of brilliant music journalism.
Featured Site: Tiny Mix Tapes
For better or worse, TMT aims to be a tastemaker not only with its reviews, but also its writing style and overall tone. The content resembles a bowl of Chex Mix Bold in that it’s a delicious, less-unhealthy-than-some mix for your musical palette to snack on: the serious, the sarcastic, the intelligent and the irreverent all have a home here.
All music reviews and wrap-ups include sample tracks and/or music videos from the featured artists. Also, the site does not limit itself to music, delving into commentary on film, book and comic art as well.
And most importantly, TMT flat-out has the best long-form music feature writing of anyone in this category. If you don’t want to read the full transcript of a 30-minute interview with international indie starlets, and you don’t want to read 2,000 words on the micro-evolution of hip-hop in the past seven years, then disregard our advice and check out the honorable mentions below. But if you’re hardcore about this, and maybe sans social life, you should stay in tonight, simultaneously gorging on Tiny Mix Tapes and Chex Mix Bold.
While you may have to wade through snarky, pretentious writing and self-promotional "personal branding," blogs and other variations of in-it-for-the-love-not-the-money music journalism are greats place for first listens and discussions about emerging artists.
Locally, the Phoenix New Times music blog Up On The Sun is a good starting place for tour dates and band interviews. Then move on to Silver Platter for more of a local focus, and if you want to get "hyper-local," establish a trustworthy crew of Valley music bloggers (after all, they’ll probably appreciate you more than you appreciate them). Or, if you’re interested in different scenes from around the world, perhaps the best way to access them is from hyper-active and talented bloggers in the area (Brooklyn Vegan is just one of perhaps 10,000 such DIY music journalists). SPM can’t really tell you which blog is right for you.
Featured site: Winnie Cooper
Focuses on the Canadian indie music scene, particularly the Vancouver area. Great source of otherwise-hard-to-find event pictures and tour announcements. The site doesn’t get deep into music criticism, just highlights emerging talent. Winnie Cooper’s fatal flaw: distractingly hip. Some people just want to read about the music — please. But in the end, the scoops one can get on this site are worth the hipster self-loathing caused by visiting.
Indie Record/Label Websites
Do you like a band and want to listen to music of a similar style or from a nearby place? A smart way to expand into new musical territory is to find out the record label of a unique band or artist in your repertoire. Their website may contain a cornucopia of like-minded musical projects — and it’s the record label’s job to promote new recordings, releases and concert dates. Plus, this method gives you the serenity of perusing a list of new bands at your own pace, without a smirking blogger over each shoulder telling you which are "trending" and which are "overplayed."
(Legal) Music-sharing sites
Maybe you’re not the type who likes to read about music. Maybe you’re more like, “Hey, can I just have a listen of what you’re listening to, bro?” or “Yo, bro, I already know what I like, just give me more of that — for free.” Well, bro, you’re in luck, because music-sharing and instant-listen sites are in vogue. Pandora Radio and last.fm are virtually household names at this point, but we’ll break down some other options in this final path of our musical quest.
SPM fav: 8tracks
Do you ever yearn for the days when friends shared music via homemade 8-track tapes, easily warped and/or lost but so much more meaningful than the sterility and anonymity of a folder of MP3 files on a zip drive?
Probably not. But either way, this “handcrafted internet radio” site has a neat music sharing system that combines old and new.
The process is pretty simple: Upload your own mix of your favorite eight (or more) songs. Name the mix whatever you’d like, and assign any picture to it.
Part of this system’s success is, ironically, the human folly that goes into naming one’s playlist. Expect to dislike mixes you want to like. Expect to like mixes you wish you didn’t. Have some trepidation about clicking Play on a mix called “DancePants” by user FratMusic? Understandable. But be brave, music scholars.
-search by tag, artist, or description
-User pages easy to navigate
-Twitter-eqsue “follow” system reminds us too much of Twitter
-Limited music selection (if your personal music library is limited)
-Not a huge amount of users yet (though some may think this is a good thing)
Close Second: Tastebuds
In short: Tastebuds is a straight-up music-sharing/dating site. We know, we know, that sounds like a terrible idea, but … Wait, no it doesn’t! That sounds like a great idea.
Begin by creating a profile, like most any other dating site, except one of the required questions is a small list of bands to assess your musical tastes, Pandora-style. This is the main parameter for suggesting “matches,” though you can also search by age, location and the like.
So, literally, all you do is type in your favorite bands and this site presents to you a page of people from your desired gender with the same tastes — and pictures of them. It’s a brave new musical world we live in.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via Twitter @TheRabens