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