The Internet has made sharing music (both legally and otherwise) extremely easy to do. From MP3 blogs, to online music stores, to streaming radio stations, the number of places to find new music can be a little overwhelming. Your teens have probably begun to navigate these Web sites already and can advise you about their favorite ones. One of our teens uses YouTube as a personal radio station: she puts together video playlists that use the songs she wants to hear, and then she starts the playlist and minimizes the browser window. You can survey your teens to find out the kinds of music they like, which music Web sites they use, and how they use them. Then you can get your teens involved in finding and sharing new music--with each other and with you--by using the following Web sites (and any others they recommend!).
AllMusic is a wonderful resource that can be used for many purposes, whether at the reference desk, with teens, or even to satisfy your own curiosity. You may already have some AllMusic guides in print form in your reference collection. This same information is available online with the benefit of being interactive. All of the site's content is flee, but some articles require you to have a free account before you can view the full text. Think of AllMusic as the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) of music. (Well, there is an AllMovie site, but let's ignore that for the sake of analogy.) This site gives information about every aspect of popular music. Want to know the definition of electronica music and the major bands of the genre? Check. What if a patron wants to know all the bands that Jarvis Cocker was in? Check. Want to expand the tastes of a teen patron who only listens to Fall Out Boy? AllMusic lists which artists they were influenced by and which artists they have influenced. AllMusic also has complete lists of albums with track listings, artist bios, and music videos. The search function allows you to search by name, band, or song title. The song title search is especially great, as it lists the composer as well as every artist who has performed it.
Finetune is one of several Web sites that allows users to create streaming radio stations tailored to specific tastes. Finetune calls these stations "playlists," which encourages users to treat them as personal mixes to be shared among friends. Their catalog of songs is extensive and includes every major label in the United States, as well as many of the bigger independent labels, making it easy to find the songs you want. Finetune requires that each playlist must have at least forty-five tracks and cannot contain more than three songs by any one artist; these rules enable the site to operate as an Internet radio station as opposed to an on-demand music service. Once a playlist is finished, Finetune generates a piece of code that users can copy and paste to another Web site, such as a blog, a MySpace page, or library Web site, so that users can make their playlists available elsewhere. When a playlist is posted to your library's Web site, for example, anyone visiting that page can play it from your site without having to visit Finetune. The playlists require Flash Player 9, which you can download for free from www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer.
Finetune also offers an "Artist Radio" feature, akin to Pandora's (see below), which makes suggestions based on the names of artists. Pandora's suggestion service is much better at matching artists with similar sounds or styles; however, Finetune's suggestions are useful for finishing playlists if you're having trouble coming up with forty-five songs to add. Each artist's page includes a link to similar artists, so you can finish your playlist by using those suggestions or Finetune can finish your playlist for you. Once you've added songs by at least three separate artists, you can click the "I'm Lazy" button and Finetune will generate as many tracks as needed to complete your playlist. …