A Music Lover's Guide to the Internetby Greg Knollenberg
The Internet Writing Journal, November 1998
The Internet contains a staggering amount of information about the music industry for both music professionals and music fans. Online music content comes in a variety of forms including: band websites, record label websites, music reviews, live music events, concert information, audio sites, online music stores, fan sites, music ezines, music clubs, radio websites and music-related organizations. Those who have not yet explored what the Web has to offer in the realm of music will be surprised to find they can hear previews of upcoming music, find the latest music news from a large number of resources, search for upcoming events in their vicinity, find information on specific music genres of music and keep up to date on the music industry. This article will provide a general overview of the types of music resources available on the Web, and demonstrate how to find them.
Finding Music Sites
The most common method used to find online music content is to use one of the major search engines. More information on using search engines can be found in the article, "Effective Use of Search Engines." In addition to typing in your keywords in the search engine and hoping an excellent music site or an exact article that matches your keywords turns up in your results, you can also access the special sections of reviewed or recommended music sites which most search engines provide. Some of these include: Yahoo, LookSmart and InfoSeek. In addition to the search engines, you might also try some of the music meta-sites as a starting point in your search for the music information you are seeking. Music meta-sites are sites that aim to point you in the direction of music content available online and contain databases of thousands of music-related websites. Some excellent music meta-sites include AllMusic and Discogs. You can find links to more music databases here.
Artists and Bands
Finding information on an artist or band is very easy with the Internet. Most popular commercial artists have their own websites and there are plenty of articles about musicians that can be found online in entertainment and music sites. Examples of some artists who own websites include Bob Marley, Vince Gill, Matchbox Twenty and Hootie and the Blowfish. Smaller bands can also be found online and usually have a website which they use to help sell their music, advertise their tour dates and spread their message. For smaller bands a useful resource is the Internet Underground Music Archives, which also lets you sample music online from a great variety of lesser known artists. The Rolling Stone Network has an extensive artists section with in-depth information on hundreds of artists, including the artist's biography, discography, audio previews, and other pertinent information. Some websites which provide links to artists' webpages are Webcrawler's Artists Webpages and Ultimate Band List. In addition to the artist information found on commercial websites and the Artists' official homepages, you can also find numerous fan sites for individual artists and bands, such as Planet Garth, the unofficial website for Garth Brooks. These sites may contain information you can't find elsewhere, such as gossip, local appearances and unique experiences from a fan's point of view. However, they might also include information that is difficult to validate.
A majority of the record labels have their own websites. These sites contain content on what the label publishes, information about the artists and the music, contact information and online ordering. Some larger record labels have a large amount of content on their site. Some even run contests, special sales and audio previews to increase traffic and music sales. Examples of record label websites include Atlantic Records, Elektra Entertainment and Virgin Records America. Some great places to find links to more record label websites are: Writers Write® Songwriting and Yahoo's Record Label Section.
Sites with Reviews, New Releases and Interviews
Nearly every music magazine in print also has an online counterpart, which often contains more content than can be found in the print version of the publication. Large online sites with interviews, news and reviews include those of Rolling Stone Network, All-Music Guide, MTV, and CMJ Music Magazine. Other magazines with high-content websites include Billboard Online, Entertainment Weekly, E Online and Vibe Online. The Internet also includes web-only publications with no print counterpart such as Addicted to Noise, MyLaunch, and Wall of Sound. There are some of the larger commercial sites. Internet users can find scores of sites in addition to these covering all kinds of music genres such as jazz, reggae, rap, alternative and heavy metal. For classical music try the sites Orchestra Net and Classical Net; for country music visit the sites Country.com and The Boot; for Heavy Metal music look at Metal Edge, for Jazz try Jazz Online and for Blues visit Blues Access Online and Bluesfest Central. Other music sites offering a variety of music content include: City Cabaret, Emusician.com, Harmony Central, Jelly, Latin Music Online, Mojam, Music Central Online, Musicians Network, New Musical Express and Only New Age Music. This just grazes the surface of the music magazines and ezines that can be found on the Internet. To find more music publications use the search engines and meta-music searches.
Finding Live Events Offline and Online
The Internet is a great resource for finding information on upcoming concerts and it is fast becoming a resource for live events, including concerts. Pollstar, a concert database, is a valuable online reference for upcoming concerts, as is Live Nation, which provides listings of upcoming concerts and sells tickets. If you are looking to purchase your concert tickets online you can also visit Ticketmaster.com, which also provides a searchable directory of upcoming performances. In addition to providing databases and schedules of live appearances offline, the Web is also great place to attend live interviews with artists and bands. An Artist's or Band's own website will likely provide details on tour dates and live appearances.
There are not nearly as many songwriting sites out there as writing sites, but there are several good ones. Sites such as Lyricist.com, The Muse's Muse and Writers Write® Songwriting are targeted solely at songwriters. Songwriting sites provide songwriters with information, articles, links to web resources, newsletters and interactive discussion boards. There are also songwriting related newsgroups, such as rec.music.makers.songwriting and alt.music.lyrics. More information for songwriters can be found on sites of popular songwriting organizations such as BMI, SESAC and ASCAP. In addition to these resources, more songwriting links can be found at Writers Write® Songwriting and on Yahoo's songwriting section.
The amount of music and audio content online is rapidly expanding. For starters, Broadcast.com can direct you to online audio broadcasts and Internet Radio provides a comprehensive guide to Internet Radio Stations. A unique site, Spinner.com lets you listen to music online and offers over 100 channels of different types of music. Another great audio site is IUMA, Internet Underground Music Archive, which lets you sample the music of thousands of independent bands.
The Music Business
In addition to the sites mentioned above there are numerous sites devoted to the business end of music which help keep those in the music business up to speed. The Hollywood Reporter provides music-related business news; however, a fee is charged to access the complete articles. R&R Online provides industry news and music-related jobs listings. The TAXI website provides business-to-business industry classifieds. Other resource for music business information include Music Connection Magazine and the Music Newswire. ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, has a large website with details on the music business, as well as links to other resources. The American Music Center is another well-known organization, with a focus on contemporary classical music and jazz. The Music Publishers Associations (MPA) website provides resources for music publishers. You can also keep track of the bestselling albums and singles online with Charts All Over the World, and Billboard.com. Some good music business resources are the National Endowment for the Arts website, the National Music Foundation, the Recording Academy, the Recording Industry Association of America and the PAN Network.
Online shopping holds several advantages over the traditional music shopping experience, by providing the consumer with options typically unavailable in the physical shopping environment. Some of these new options include previewing the music on your computer, reading reviews of the albums and songs, looking through the bestselling albums in each genre and receiving email notification when new music by your favorite artists is available. Some of the major online stores include eMusic, iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.com. In addition to the online retailers, many of the record companies and labels also sell music online.
Recent developments in music online may ultimately change the way music is bought and sold. Music lovers will eventually be able to purchase and download individual tracks and save them on a special player; we may very well see the end of CDs as they are currently marketed and purchased. However, this may take several years. One thing that has changed is the power the consumer has. Most online music stores and music sites allow you to preview an album in real audio or at least certain portions of certain tracks on the album. At a minimum, this has increased the importance of the Internet to the music industry and has dramatically increased the level of Internet spending and development that is taking place in the music business. If you are seeking to stay current with the music industry, the Web will definitely need to say high on your checklist. And if you are a music fan there is no easier or faster way to access music information; it's all right there at your fingertips.
**Greg Knollenberg is the CEO of Writers Write, Inc.