3/19/08

Songkick: Nudging You Gently Out Of The Basement

I like to go to shows. It's a habit my older brother instilled in me years ago, and I have yet to kick it. Sometimes I go through periods where I'll see upwards of 4 shows in a month, sometimes on back-to-back nights if I'm feeling saucy. But even when I'm not in the mood to drag myself out of the house well after my bedtime to go stand in a loud room with a bunch of 20-somethings, I still like to know who's coming to town.

To keep myself informed, I signed up for the email lists of the 9:30 Club, the Rock and Roll Hotel, and a couple of other clubs around town (sadly the Black Cat doesn't have an email list). That's OK, but more often than not I'm inundated by emails about bands I don't care about. For me, salvation came courtesy of tourfilter, a great site where you tell it the bands you like (it has a nice auto-complete feature to help you out there - the whole site has a very "my first RoR/AJAX site" feel, but in a good way) and it emails you when they come to your town. You can also add friends through the site, which I find is a great way to learn about new bands - I just check in on what bands my hipster friends have added from time to time and then go check them out. Tourfilter has some other nice features, my favorite being the ability to get an RSS feed for your upcoming shows. Very cool.

Still, you have to type in your bands manually. And nobody likes typing, right? Oh, if only there was some solution that involved nothing more than playing music on my computer! Enter Songkick. This site offers a plugin you can download that will scan your music library, add all the artists it finds to your profile, then start automatically tracking for you when those artists are coming to your town. I was so excited to discover this that it didn't even dampen my mood to learn that it only works with winamp, iTunes, and Windows Media Player, none of which I use. So, it seems will not be a Songkick user any time soon, but I'd love to hear if you guys are using it. If not, how do you keep up with shows coming to town?

PS They also have some cool widgets you can use to tell everybody that your bands are coming to town, or for you bloggers out there, they have one that will try to automatically parse your blog posts, figure out what bands you're writing about, then display any tour info it has for that band. You'd be seeing that somewhere in my sidebar if it worked with blogger. Oh, well. Hopefully that's coming soon.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention All Crazy Style, a great mashup tool that combines your last.fm favorite artists feed and your upcoming.org locations information to deliver a list of upcoming shows (also available as an RSS feed) based on your listening data. It's great, but relies on people adding things to upcoming, which doesn't always happen. And for some reason it sometimes recommends bands I've never heard of or listened to. But it's still really cool.

4 comments:

Amanda said...

My God, it sounds exhausting to be a music fan

John A said...

Amanda took the words out of my mouth.

I too am addicted to going to shows, though I've probably got a smaller list of 20 or 30 bands I'll see without coaxing.

But the effort involved in all of the integration seems like more of a pain in the rear than just buying a copy of the newspaper once a week and checking out the ads for clubs.

With a few notable exceptions of bands whose mailing lists I'm on, I'll generally get more interest from the paper.

Example: I'm not really a Joanna Newsome fan, but she's interesting enough that I might check her out live. I wouldn't go out of my way to add her to an online list, but flipping through the local CityPaper equivalent, I'll circle her show as a "maybe".

Meanwhile, a playlist of live shows generated from my mp3s would be completely useless to me... too much randomness in there.

Even as someone who considers himself a reasonably wired music fan, my live music notification needs are mostly met by the same technology I used in high school.

Part of that stems from distrust of the people on these other sites to keep up their end of the bargain. I trust Ticketmaster to keep their end updated since they're incented to, but what's keeping tourfilter honest? (That's not to say I "trust" Ticketmaster as a corporate entity, but I'll likely trust their information veracity more than a startup site.)

Anyway, that's my 2 cents. Interesting to see this stuff out there though.

Lori said...

Weird. I love tourfilter. It's been a long time since I picked up the local weekly religiously to get my show info.

The reason tourfilter works is b/c you can easily see what any user is following, and vice versa -- pick a band and see who follows them. For example, if i look up the Twilight Sad, and see that the only person following them is this "99" fellow, I can click over to his profile and see what else he likes. Maybe we share another 15 bands in common, and it's just an easy click for me to start following them as well.

The info is fairly reliable, since it pulls from the RSS feeds of various venues around your chosen clubs. It's not exact but it's close enough.

Stefan said...

Good Job! :)