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Friday
Mar262004

Three Cool Music Sites

This week I was reminded of one great music site I'd found a year or two ago, a second found about a year ago and a new site I've just found this week. All three focus on independent artists, provide real earnings to those artists and offer lots of samples to hear the music before you buy.

Epitonic.com
I cam across Epitonic maybe 2 years ago and I forget just how. But when I found it, I was excited with the idea. Here was a site created by music lovers, with a wide variety of tunes to check out. I was particularly interested in electronica and alternative music, but if I had interest in other music styles, they were there too.

What I most liked about Epitonic was access to the music. They have several options for streaming albums by a specific artist, or tracks in a genre of music. The even have little introductory streams of description and tunes for each sub-genre, in case you want to know more about them.

I especially like Epitonic's approach of offering MP3 streams of albums or genres, since I often want to hear variety in a genre of music without the hassle of checking every artist's page for tracks to sample.

Lastly, they even offer MP3s for free download, that you can listen to locally. I've grabbed several tracks for personal listening, and if I choose to buy a CD from the artist, I know exactly where to go. And it's cool stuff. :-)

Some faves include Dune, David Duriez, Brendan Costigane, Llorca and Imperial Teen.

GrassrootsMusic.com
Grassroots Music is a site I found about a year ago or so, focusing on Christian oriented folk, rock, electronica, etc. Basically, good music on many genres with lyrics focused on praising and worshiping God.

The site focuses more on folk/acoustic tunes, but also provides a nice selection of other genres as well, particularly alternative and rock. Samples are offered on the site for each album they offer, and they have a nice MP3 page where you can download selected tracks from their artists.

I need to email GrassRootsMusic about establishing a nice SHOUTcast or other streaming server with samples from their artists. They offer streaming of certain albums with Real Audio, but I'd prefer something closer to what Epitonic offers — streaming by genre. I think this would be a great way to showcase the work of their artists.

I've already located some nice stuff here, like Tree63, The Maccabees and Trent Monk which are on my list of artists to buy CDs from this year.

Magnatune.com
This week I came across the Magnatune site via my iTunes 'Radio' selector. I was in the mood for some ambient music that doesn't get in the way of my work, and chose a Magnatune stream. I noticed in the info that they also had a site, so when I had a break, I took a look. I was impressed!

Magnatune was created by a husband and wife team (John Buckman and Jan Hanford) who were fed up with the music business and artists getting a pittance from their contract deals. So they started the site and offer 50% of all profits from album sales back to the artists.

Magnatune has a nice selection of music, also heavier on electronica, classical and world music, and they offer streaming of albums, tracks, and genres.

If you like an artist's work, you can buy the CD online immediately with a credit card or PayPal. What's interesting is, you can choose the value of the album, generally between $5 and $18 (from what I saw). You're encouraged to be generous, as a full 50% of that payment goes right to the artist. Very cool.

As for delivery, it appears to be primiarly by download — once the album is purchased, you can immediately download the full fidelity WAVs, MP3s, Ogg Vorbis and other formats from the site. The site suggest that a cable modem downloading an average WAV formatted album, zipped, is about an hour.

Some faves from Magnatune so far: Very Large Array, Solace, Kemper Crabb, Cargo Cult, Belief Systems and DAC Crowell.

Overall, I find this approach to music distribution really refreshing — seeing websites like Epitonic, Grassroots Music and Magnatune working direct with the artists, providing decent cash for an artist's hard work, and offering me great tunes.

So, if you're up for exploring some new musical sounds and artists, check out one or all of these three excellent music sites. Hopefully you'll find some interesting new music and will reward a musician for their art. :-)

Have a great weekend!

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