Keeping Track of Live Music In Your City

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The way each of us consumes music is so diverse it’s no wonder the internet is exploding with tons of different ways to listen, share, discover, archive, and organize our musical lives. Some of us rarely attend concerts but frequently purchase CDs. Others attend concerts and prefer to download music, while some prefer radio and streaming music without ever having to own the music itself. Today, I want to focus on one aspect of my musical consumption – attending concerts.

I’ve always loved living in cities with big music scenes, but I’ve had problems keeping up with the multitude of shows going on in any given month. Thankfully, the internet has some pretty handy tools out there. I use iCal religiously and consequently it has become the hub of my musical listings. Here you’ll notice the 3 iCal feeds I use, iConcertCal, Sonic Living, and Tourfilter.

iCal concert listing subscriptions

iConcertCal is a great iTunes plug-in that generates a calendar of upcoming shows in your city based off of your music library. You’re also able to see upcoming CD releases and share this calendar with others.

After you’ve installed the plug-in, access the calendar by going to view > visualizer > iconcertcal or by using command + t. This will get you into the plug-in so you can personalize it. You can change the city and radius as well as add a show. In preferences you’re able to set your sharing options, upcoming release filters, and most importantly, your iCal exporting options. This is where you’ll see the path to your iconcertcal.ics file to import into iCal.

iConcertCal plug-in

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Sonic Living is a social network based around events and music. It’s probably the most powerful concert tool I use. You’re able to add artists automatically, using its iTunes scanning tool, and by syncing to your Last.fm and Pandora accounts. Once your artists are loaded you have a bunch of different ways to organize the information. The “Shows” page contains all of the different categories in the left hand column. This is where you’ll start.

Sonic Living calendar

All of your artists will be located in the Wishlist category. It is here that you can add shows to your confirmed list. My preferred method is to scan my Wishlist, add shows I plan on attending and then subscribing to that iCal feed. You have a ton of other options though. This is where Sonic Living really wins me over.

You are given 5 different categories that contain 8 different feeds. There’s also an iGoogle widget, blog badges, Facebook widget, and an iPhone application that is integrated with the iTunes music store. As if that weren’t enough, you can add Flickr photos of an event by tagging that photo in your Flickr account with a special tag. There’s a lot going on at Sonic Living, so brace yourself.

Sonic Living feeds

Tourfilter, the last of my concert tool trilogy, is the minimalist of the group. I started using this website in 2006 and have watched it grow to over 60 major cities worldwide. It’s no-frills but does offer a RSS and iCal feed as well as email notifications of shows in your town. You have to manually add artists to your list, but this can be a good thing for those of you not wanting to sift through a behemoth, automatically generated, list.

After you’ve logged in, the homepage is the only page you’ll ever need. It shows the upcoming concerts in your city, your complete artist list with the ability to add more, and links to other people’s lists. It’s lightweight and very DIY which is why I like it. The data is monitored by humans so if you see an error or have a question, someone will always get back to you.

Tourfilter page

Of course, my 3 suggestions are not the only options. Last.fm’s events may be all you need or perhaps BeeThere is your favorite. They both offer feeds and some organizational features. If it’s a widget you want, then OnTour is a path you might want to take. Maybe you want more than just music-centered events. This is where Eventful might be useful.

One interesting mention is a website called PodBop. Their concert listings are powered by Eventful. Here you can download a podcast of music playing in your area. It’s community driven and my city isn’t a very active PodBop community but yours may be, so check it out.

My main reasoning for using the above three services is in the instant access I have to the information when I need it most. Sometimes I’m listening to music in iTunes and I want to know if this artist is in town. A quick apple+T and I have the information. Other times I’m in my iCal and need to check to see if a show interferes with something else I have planned. I use Tourfilter and Sonic Living when I’m surfing the web or on a friend’s computer. It’s nice to have a few options.

You may wonder where a lot of these websites are getting their data. Many music websites have APIs available and this is making it easier for developers to create custom applications. Programmable Web’s article, 25 Music APIs, is a great place to start for those of you thinking about tackling your own project or wanting more suggestions. I’d love to hear what some of you use and why.

Written by Renee Valdez, A dot com junkie, music lover and frequent blogger at Shopwiki’s Overlooked, a blog showcasing overlooked products from Shopwiki’s webcrawlers.

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Comments (4)
  • chrism

    hi chris from tourfilter here – great writeup and great comparison of the three services. an interesting read …

    • Renee

      thanks Chris! and thank you Tourfilter for being so responsive whenever I’ve sent emails.

      Also, giving users some editing powers is a great idea! I know I’ve made some corrections on upcoming shows and all without having to bug you guys about it!

  • Tina

    Thanks for this incredible article Renee!
    Up to now I picked concerts with a slightly different routine. I used to look at the ticket shop calendars to see who’s in town, and eventually browse the websites of my favorite clubs. Whenever a band/artist I didn’t know sounded interesting, I would check them out on MySpace, and if they made a good impression, I would attend the show. I discovered some pretty good bands that way. But I also missed out on a whole bunch.
    My concert going will be so much more organized and less random from now on. Thank you!! :)

    • Renee

      I used to have to do the exact same thing. In fact, there is a relic folder in my bookmarks titled “venues”, that I’d load all at once and try to organize my calendar that way. So these websites changed my life…haha

      Glad it helped.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.