How to waste an afternoon on the Internet

Hardly an original title, I know. It really is shockingly easy to do. People like me seem to be conditioned into the need to be constantly entertained or stimulated in some way. I, for example, need music in some form to feel like I’m supposed to be relaxing. It helps me concentrate my thoughts while giving a part of my brain something nourishing to chew on.

So naturally I spent most of this afternoon looking around on the amazing SeeqPod, and the even more amazing MuxTape. MuxTape, if you’re out of the loop like I was, is a brilliantly simple and yet amusingly illegal way to find new music. People sign up, upload their favourite songs to a 12-song playlist, and then publish it for all the see. Here’s the catch – it’s not searchable, but this apparently is deliberate. The idea is to force users to discover new music instead of stay around the genres and conventions they’re already familiar with. Great in concept, but in practice you find yourself subjected to more electro-nonsense and cheesy Latino party-music than you might expect. And the site doesn’t do you the courtesy of telling you what to expect when you select a song. I’m all for breaking down borders and bringing new ideas into the fold, but I need to get into a certain state of mind to listen to, say hip-hop, just like I need to think differently to enjoy metal. I greatly enjoy both types of music, but I can’t really switch between Spank Rock one minute and then Dream Theater the next. I’m also a fan of post-rock music like Tortoise and Explosions n the Sky – these acts bring long and noodly compositions that require effort and patience to experience, and it just seems boring listed next to an angry punk song or a poppy rap tune.

Still, you can use Google to find people’s MuxTapes, and find new music by hopping from one user to another; I’ve spent about a hour today throwing myself through various jazz and new-age lists.

SeeqPod is actually my new favourite toy. I found it through the music search site Songerize (a simplified and restricted front-end to the SeeqPod database). Essentially, you search for music you’re already familiar with, and the site looks fr associated and related acts. You can play most songs straight from the site, but some only have small samples or, most disappointingly, no way to listen at all.

It’s truly incredible that I can find hours worth of music with hardly any effort and, more importantly, without spending a proverbial dime. It’s all totally illegal, of course. There’s no way a web company can maintain a business model that relies on users uploading other people’s copyright protected work. I can seriously see myself spending more time on these (anti-)social music sites, surely generating stacks of income for record companies and artists in the long term. A possible solution to the stalemate could be to use sites like MuxTape and SeeqPod in the same way as singles once were – as a promotional tool to hook people into investing more money in an artist by buying an album.


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