RSS: Concerts and Music (51)

November 10, 2008

It’s week two of RSS Month! This week we’re talking about music.

Do you ever feel hopelessly unplugged when it comes to Nashville’s music scene? Are you kicking yourself because you didn’t hear about Air Supply at the Wildhorse Saloon? If you’re like me, you probably hear about artists who visit town days after their performance – when you hear other people talking about how great a concert was.

Don’t miss another show – stay in the loop with RSS!

There are several ways to keep up with concerts using RSS. It’s a matter of finding the site that works best for you.

I use feeds from the site Bands in Town to alert me when some of my favorite artists are on tour. Here’s how it works:
Search for an artist or group (use the search box in the upper right corner). We’ll search for the Black Crows.

The profile page for the Black Crows is below. On the right hand side, there’s an RSS feed for the band’s calendar. Subscribe to the feed and you’ll get RSS updates for concerts or events. One thing to keep in mind with this site – you have to be on the profile page to see the RSS feed.

If you’re looking for concerts you might have missed that you probably couldn’t have gone to anyway, check out All Songs Considered. They have a feed for past live concerts. This feed will let you hear recordings of Tom Waits at Atlanta’s Fox Theater or the Raconteurs when they were in D.C. I think it is pretty cool that concerts appear in my RSS feed. For free!

Want updates on all manner of events? Try Upcoming. You can subscribe to feeds for events based on the category (music, sports, etc.). You might even learn about events you didn’t even know existed – like the Saturday evening star shows at the new Adventure Science Center planetarium!

The beauty of music updates in RSS? For one, your email box isn’t cluttered by updates from tons of websites. But, most important, it doesn’t matter how often you check your feeds – this isn’t news, so there’s no daily commitment!

See you next week for one more tip about using RSS. Oh, and if you have tips of your own, please share them in the comments!

We know, this is the second post in one week. This wasn’t originally part of March Apps Mania, but consider this the winner of the “play-in game.” We posted about streaming music this week. But what about downloading music? Can you download mp3 files on library computers? We’ve done some research and we hope this post will clarify things.

One note: music file = mp3. There are other types of music files (wma, aac, ogg), but for our purposes today, music file = mp3.

Can anyone download music on library public computers?

Short answer – Yes. But…you have to download an mp3 from a website that does not require special software.

Downloading a song is different from streaming a song. If you stream a song on Pandora, you just click play and listen. You haven’t saved the song for later. If you wanted to hear the song again, you’d need to go back to Pandora. When you download a song, you are saving it for later. On public computers, you can download a song file (or mp3) and save it on a flash drive. Downloading and saving an mp3 is no different from saving a resume or a photo.

The trouble you run into on public computers has to do with downloading software (like iTunes). Downloading an mp3 file is just like saving a resume, but some websites require you to use specific software to download music files.

Amazon and iTunes both have music you can buy and download. If you buy a song from iTunes, you have to use the iTunes software. Because software cannot be installed by the public, they cannot buy music from iTunes. If you buy a song from Amazon, you don’t have to install any software. Amazon lets you buy and download a song right to your flash drive. Basically, you can download music on library computers when the site does not require software installation. There are a lot of websites that sell mp3s, some require software and some don’t.

Should I help someone download music? How much can I help a patron?

Yes, absolutely help someone with a question about downloading music!

If someone is having trouble downloading a song, look at the website they’re using. Check the help and FAQ screens to see if the site requires software installation. Amazon encourages people to use the Amazon MP3 Downloader (special software similar to iTunes), but if you look at the FAQ you see that it isn’t required. If a site does not require special software, you can offer to demonstrate how to save a file to a flash drive.

If someone is looking for mp3s, a simple google search for download mp3 will bring up a lot of possibilities. In a pinch, you can always suggest Amazon.

Remember you can always call a colleague and see if they can help. We might not be able to get the patron what they want 100% of the time. But, people usually appreciate the effort.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
1. Browse the Cylinder Archive for some wonderful original recordings.
2. Download an mp3 to the branch flash drive.
3. Take the Survey.

Undoubtedly someone has asked you, “Where can I listen to free music on a public computer?” Playing downloaded music is not always easy or allowed on public library computers. Streaming is an easier option for listening to music or radio programs online.

What is streaming? It’s sort of like radio – just tune into music that is already playing on the Internet. Unlike radio, there are billions of stations to choose from and anyone can pick the tunes! Here are a couple of popular music streaming spots.

Radio:Last.fm|Pandora|Accuradio | Live365|WPLN

Last.fm runs its recommendations based on how their listeners label the music. They track songs heard over time, then alter their personal radio station accordingly. Last.fm is also a social network that lets music fans discover new music by seeing what other users are listening to. You can listen to your friend’s radio stations and share recommendations.

Tell Pandora who you like and they will play music similar to it. This site works with Seattle’s music genome project to analyze songs’ actual sounds to identify similar songs. So, if you tell Pandora you like Bell Biv Devoe, it will play them, plus Bobby Brown, Tony Toni Tone, and Keith Sweat. You get the idea.

Independent Internet Radio streaming sites Accuradio and Live365 offer a more conventional selection of Country, Gospel or Pop radio stations broadcasting over the web. DJs pick the songs, not you.

Terrestrial radio stations like WPLN use streaming to air their programs online.

Search: Seeqpod | Songza | SkreemR | The Hype Machine

Billie Jean Maybe you need to hear “Billie Jean” right now? Use a music search app like Songza to listen to single tracks. Enter a song title or artist, and a search may find it somewhere on the Internet. Then, it will play the song for you. No downloading or software, just streaming. The versions are not high quality, just whatever mp3 someone has posted on their blog. Search is a good way to preview entire new songs or find alternate recordings. Downloading is another topic that comes up often with music. We will discuss that in an upcoming post.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
1. Visit one of the music streaming web sites.
2. Play a song.
3. Take the Survey.

Special note: the library’s departmental rules talk about acceptable use of radio and television in times of emergency or breaking news of significance. Let’s assume that prolonged listening to streaming audio and video can be treated in the same way. Besides, we are having a bandwidth crisis right now. In other words, learn the technology, try it out—but avoid streaming recreational audio or video on your PC while you’re working.