December 25, 2011 at 8:08 am

Your New Holiday Gadgets: Discovering New Music

ipad holidayHappy holidays! So, you scored a new iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad.

You’ve already downloaded Angry Birds, set up email, and possibly had some interesting conversations with Siri. What about the music? You probably have some, and you probably want more.

Sure, you could just sync and playing the same music from your iTunes library. But that’s something your old iPod could do. If you’re like most of us, you probably want something new, but also something you’ll like.

The following music discovery apps analyze and present recommendations based on musical similarities and social media, and all of them warrant consideration as you decide what to install next. They work in different ways, but each expands your musical horizons in ways your old iPod never could.


If you haven’t heard of Spotify, you almost certainly will in the very near future. Utilizing the forces of Facebook and Twitter, Spotify is a powerhouse of music sharing and discovery. Launched in the US this past summer, Spotify is also powering apps that let you discover new tunes from the likes of Pitchfork and Rolling Stone. Although Spotify is the most popular music subscription service, plenty of great options exist. You should also check out MOGRdio, or Rhapsody, whose designs you might prefer.

How it works:
People power a great deal of the discovery features in Spotify and other subscriptions services. It connects seamlessly with Facebook and Twitter, allowing you and your friends to build and share playlists, music recommendations and much more. Spotify has compiled a library of over 15 million songs, all cross-referenced and categorized. (On a more personal note, I check my own musical pulse using Spotify by simply searching for an artist I’ve been listening to recently and bam! – a list of similar artists emerges.)

Website and iOS app offers a fun, social, and interactive way to share music, in the form of virtual rooms where people can listen to music together, just like in the olden days. Simple and entertaining, lacks the “robot” feel of some other music recommenders.

How it works:
Ever wanted to DJ? offers hundreds of rooms where anyone can join, or you can start your own. Up to five DJs select songs to play from Turntable’s vast library, or from the tracks on their own computers. Each room is set up like a music venue, depicting your avatar and DJ queue, for when you work up the courage to take the stage. We recommend joining a room showcasing your favorite genre, sitting back, and relaxing while chatting, listening, and sharing music with other actual people.

discovr1Discovr Music

Discovr Music, one of the most popular music discovery apps to date, presents virtual map of the musical world. So far, Apple’s iOS keeps this app to itself, though similar apps such as LivePlasma exist on other platforms.

How it works:
Simply. Discovr compartmentalizes the music world, creating a web of artists and musical tastes based on your input (in part with data from The Echo Nestpublisher of But it doesn’t stop there. Discovr also includes organized bounty of information ranging from bios, reviews, blogs, and even artist MySpace, Facebook or Twitter pages.


Quite possibly the first music app of all time, Shazam existed before the smartphone as an answering-machine-style recorder that would text early adopters with the name of whatever song was playing around them. Now, it’s a popular utility not only for iOS and Android (t’s the fourth most popular app in iTunes of any kind, i.e. not just music apps), but also Windows Phone- and Blackberry-powered devices as well.

How it works:
There is nothing complex about Shazam, where the user is concerned. Hear something you like on the radio, in a nightclub, or anywhere else, tap the app, and in a few seconds it will probably identify the song and artist. (Shazam can even ignore dialogue on television or from people talking around you, although it doesn’t work with super-static-y radio.) Once it has identified the song, Shazam conveniently links you to the appropriate mobile music store where you can purchase the song you’ve discovered. The app lets you share your find via Facebook, Twitter or email, and it includes lyrics, YouTube videos, album reviews, and artist tour information to boot.


If you love finding new music to love, look no further. Hitlantis takes the Discovr concept and pushes it in a more social direction. Released for the iPad in February 2011 and the iPhone in May, Hitlantis brings artists and listeners together in a virtual universe:


How it works:
Artists (or their people) can create profiles containing everything from their biographies and songs, to tour information and videos. The goal of the app is to place artist promotion in the hands of the artists and the fans. It gauges popularity by weighing fans, revenue, song downloads, song plays, and album purchases, through which they can win prizes and exposure. For music fans, the app places an emphasis on visualization of who is hot and who is not.

There you have it: five top-of-the-line music discovery applications to scratch your new music itch. Enjoy, and happy holidays!