I Want My Lala.com!
It may not mean "I love you" (that would be "Lalalalalalalalala.com," according to the Delfonics), but Lala.com has a whole lot to give, as do the other sites below.
Lala.com is one of the few music-sharing schemes that involves transferring actual molecules--in this case, trading your old CDs with other Lala members. Sign up with Lala and post the names of the discs you're willing to surrender, as well as the ones you desperately crave. If another Lala member wants something from your collection, you'll receive an e-mail message containing instructions on where to send the disc, and you'll get a CD from your wish list in return. Total cost: $US1.75 for shipping and handling.
But Lala is also a digital music service. So you can take the CD you just got, rip it into MP3s, upload the tunes to Lala, and access them from any Net-connected computer or sync them to your iPod. Or you can cruise other Lala members' playlists, stream 30-second samples to your PC, and get recommendations from the popular Lala forums. If you discover a CD that you like so much you can't wait for a trade, you can buy it through the Lala store. In many instances the site will automatically add the appropriate MP3s to your Lala playlist so you can listen to them without delay.
As its name implies, iLike is more about sharing tastes than about swapping tunes. But this social network/music site also serves up plenty of free MP3s, along with links to online music stores and concert tickets.
When you download the iLike software, it installs a 'sidebar' that sits beside your iTunes or Windows Media Player software. Play, say, Crowded House, and the sidebar displays recommendations for similar bands (along with 30-second samples), offers free downloads from lesser-known artists, and shows you other Crowded House fans on iLike. Click the Friends tab, and you can see what your iLike buddies are listening to; meanwhile, the Artists tab gives you the downlow on your favorite bands.
If you don't use iTunes or WMP, you can accomplish the same things from within the iLike site, or add a widget to your MySpace or Facebook profile. The Facebook app is particularly slick: Fill out a quick survey on the artists you like, and it creates a Facebook page that displays news about the bands as well as song samples.
5. Songza and SeeqPod
You need to hear that special song right now or you will simply die. We know, we've been there. That's why God invented sites like Songza and SeeqPod that scour the Net for tunes that other people have posted, and then stream them to your PC.
Songza is dead simple to use. There's no registration, no software to download, and barely any interface. Type the name of a song or artist into the search box, pick the one you want from the search results, and click on it. A flowerlike menu appears that lets you play the song, rate it, watch the YouTube video, embed it on your blog or social networking page, or e-mail a link to friends. You can also create a playlist, which will be available the next time you visit Songza (assuming you ever decide to leave, that is).
SeeqPod offers similar features in a more conventional (and commercial) package. Hit the Search button to find songs and videos from your fave artist and enjoy them in the site's embedded media player. The Options button lets you share the tune with friends, embed it on your blog, scan the lyrics, get news and tour information, and buy CDs and download ringtones from partner sites like Amazon and Jamster.
Clicking 'Discover' leads you to similar artists, though it's a bit more hit-or-miss. A search on Nick Lowe leads to Elvis Costello, The Jam, Ian Dury, and dozens of other new wavers. But Graham Parker serves up Meat Loaf, Peter Frampton, and--I'm not sure I can even type this--Rick Springfield. The horror, the horror!