Have smart phones changed how we're hearing music? Yep. Here are five apps for the geo-aware.
There has been a bit of a gold rush on making apps ever since Apple launched the App Store and Microsoft and Android followed suit. While a lot it is absolute trash that seems to point to some incoming app-bubble, there are a lot of interesting and innovative ideas mixed in there. Most recently, there's been a push toward location-based music apps, catering specifically to the Foursquare crowd. How do they plan on making money? Who cares? They're neat.
In theory, Herd.fm takes the idea of how Nine Inch Nails left thumb-drives at concerts and applies it to songs. Basically you can upload tracks in your neighborhood (or wherever), and when people wander around the city with the app open, your track will appear and they can download it -- like some weird music version of geocaching, where you're rewarded with a digital version of a song. Unfortunately, as far as we can tell, nobody has dropped a track in Denver yet, but the premise is interesting enough that it seems like it would -- if nothing else -- make a fun weekend scavenger hunt.
Soundtrckr Radio is -- for lack of a better explanation -- trying to be Twitter for music. Its success is partially based on the fact that it's available in every single smart-phone app store, but it's also a rather interesting service. Like Twitter, you follow people and they follow you back, or you can search by your location. Now combine Twitter with Pandora, and you'll get an idea of what we're talking about. For instance, Gina C. created a Mike Posner station in our neighborhood, and although that's not up our alley, it's interesting that someone in the neighborhood enjoys it.
3. Music Mapper
You might remember the announcement of Music Mapper a while back, as it was initially a tie-in for the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. Music Mapper lets you geo-tag locations with a song and write a short comment. You can imagine what much of this has become, but there are a few that at least seem real. The user Littlemonster tagged 130th and York with Lady Gaga's "Eh, Eh" and the note: "Met my best friend here n this song reminds me of him." Another user tagged the Bluebird with the note, "Bloc Party in 2006, one of the concerts that changed my life." Users have died down since the initial influx, but the premise is interesting nonetheless.
Soundtracking launched around a month ago, and in that time, the app seems to have invaded every social network imaginable. That's partially because the premise is actually kind of cool. The app is essentially about sharing what you're listening to and where. You can connect it to Twitter, Facebook or Foursquare, and the app will automatically recognize what's playing on your iPod or, if you hold it up to a speaker, what's playing overhead. Its success has likely hinged on the fact it's simple to use and looks great. The only thing that seems to be missing is an actual map of an area to see what people are tagging and where (if they chose to be public, of course). You can check out trends, but that doesn't really offer enough in the way of seeing where things are playing and why. It'd actually be helpful in choosing, say, a happy hour, if you could look and see that everyone has tagged a Ted Nugent song there.
This app will be released May 28, but regardless of how it ends up actually functioning, the concept behind it is enough to color us with thick layer of intrigue. The band is billing it -- correctly, we're pretty sure -- as the first location-based album. What does that mean, exactly? It means that you have to be at the National Mall to hear the album. Not only that, but the music shifts and changes depending on where you're standing. The band is quick to point out that it's not meant to be a toy; it's a real album that demands a very specific listening process.
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