The Music Internet Untangled: Using Online Services to Expand Your Musical Horizons by Andy Breeding
No longer do you have to hang out at the local record store to hear new music, nor do you have to pour over countless magazines and spend lots of money on bands you've never heard before.
With the demise of Napster, many feared that the use of the Internet as a tool for music exploration and discovery was finished. How could record companies convince consumers to pay for something that they had gotten used to getting for free? The last few years have seen the rise of such services as iTunes, Rhapsody, LAUNCHcast, eMusic, the "new" Napster, and countless others. The diversity and variety of these various services reflects just how unsettled and volatile this nascent market is. Providers are scrambling for a distribution service that seems both fair and profitable, while consumers are searching for products that are affordable and convenient. The dizzying array how companies and services, however, can leave the uninformed consumer confused and intimidated. That's exactly where Andy Breeding's excellent guidebook comes in.
The Music Internet Untangled is not a work of theory, nor is it a primer on copyright laws and controversies. Rather, it is an informative, step-by-step guide to discovering what each major online music service has to offer. Specifically, Breeding explores how people can use the Internet as a vehicle for discovering new music. In his preface, he describes how as a teenager, he was a High Fidelity-type music snob. As he got older, however, he lost touch with the current music scene, until it got to the point that his only contact with popular music was listening to classic-rock radio in the car on the way home from work. Upon discovering the online radio station LAUNCHcast, however, his eyes were opened to the vast possibilities of the Internet in terms of discovering and appreciating upcoming artists and trends. No longer do you have to hang out at the local record store to hear new music, nor do you have to pour over countless magazines and spend lots of money on bands you've never heard before. In Breeding's experience, the Internet has empowered the consumer to make much better use of his or her music-buying dollar.
In that spirit, half of the book is devoted to seven-day music discovery plans for each major music service. He provides step-by-step instructions on how to get the most out of these services, while spending no more than thirty minutes a day on the endeavor. His recommendations of various services are informed by how easy they allow users to discover new music at an affordable price. Breeding expertly guides readers through Internet radio providers (LAUNCHcast, Live365, MSN Radio), online jukeboxes (Rhapsody), download services (iTunes, eMusic), as well as services that encompass all three (Musicmatch, Napster). In addition, he provides the reader with a treasure trove of resources for finding music information on the Internet. He devotes entire chapters to how to find album reviews, best-of lists, lyrics, information about musical genres, music charts, and other people that share your particular taste, among other things. Even though I am a music critic for an online magazine, I learned something new and informative on every page.
Breeding has a passion for music, and a genuine desire to help others use the Internet to foster their own musical passions. After reading this book, the reader does not feel like the Internet is an imposing, confusing cacophony of competing services and providers; rather, the reader views the internet as an invaluable tool that gives the informed consumer more choice than ever before. Whether you're a casual fan or an aficionado, whether you connect to the Internet via DSL or dial-up, whether you own a portable MP3 player or not, you will undoubtedly find information of value in this excellent guidebook.