Music mining

The human ear is tuned for music; it's in our very make up (barring some of the scarier Australian Idol auditions, perhaps). Just look for all the white earbuds the next time you're on the train or bus: a tell-tale sign of an iPod user migrating daily in the urban jungle. Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs even remarked in a 2003 interview with Business Week, "Music is not new... it's been around for thousands of years and will be around as long as humans exist... We're taking a giant market and bringing it into the Digital Age."

Well, after a wait so long that it felt like Apple had forgotten Australia was still alive and kicking, the company finally launched its Australian iTunes Music Store.

What's interesting though, is that the service brings with it a marketing blitz to cement in non-techie minds just how convenient the Internet can be - not just for buying new music, but also for finding it.

At time of writing, Australia's iTunes Music Store had just announced that it would be offering Sony BMG's catalogue (including artists like Franz Ferdinand and your favourite Aussie Idols) which - like all iTunes content - can be previewed for 30 seconds before purchase. Amazon.com employs a similar 30-second preview philosophy and features often-useful recommend­ations based on what other music people are also buying.

No more feeling embarrassed about lugging a tower of CDs to the listening booth in your favourite music shop, then. But that's just me and that's one way I that like to use such sites. I love to sift through music I haven't heard of and come out with treasures.

All Music Guide

www.allmusic.com Realising this, a colleague switched me onto the All Music Guide years ago - see Figure 1 - and I was instantly hooked. I was working in a call centre at the time and while parroting a script about something or another, I'd be uncovering all this cool new music by clicking on "this artist has worked with or is similar to" links (my position was later replaced by a recorded voice message).

Beyond its artist biographies, reviews and new release audio pre­views, what I continue to appreciate about AllMusic is that that once you've registered for free, you can explore your musical tastes down to the smallest of subgenres, mood, theme, country, instrument, related artists and more. I'll sum it up like this: The All Music Guide is to music what the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) is to movies and TV.

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Danny Allen

PC World
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