Discovering new music that's to your liking is simple and fun with the help of a few well-chosen applications for your smartphone.
Shazam, by Shazam Entertainment Ltd., is a free app for Apple and Android that does one fine trick. Say you are out and about, and hear a song you like. Shazam will listen to a few seconds of music, identify the song, and link to all sorts of information about it. You can "tag" a song and share it on Facebook and Twitter, or send your find by e-mail to anyone or to your "Shazam friends."
From the screen that appears with the song identification, the app can play a sample snippet from iTunes, just to confirm your find, and it links to iTunes, where you're welcome to buy the song.
Or you can follow links to related YouTube videos, artist information, concert and tour details (and, of course, buy tickets for the next show).
If "lyrics" is also in the list while a song is playing, a tap will start the printed lyrics scrolling in time with the music. It did a good job for me with Dave Matthews' lyrics even as the family dogs barked at each other in the room.
A paid upgrade for Shazam allows its use for playing tagged songs in Spotify or Pandora -- the latter of which is described below -- and eliminates the banner advertising. The cost is $3.99 for a year, or $5.99 for a "lifetime" upgrade.
NPR Music, is a free Apple app from National Public Radio that is excellent for exploring new music. An Android version is said to be in the offing.
From the home screen, you can browse live concert videos and public-radio programs such as Mountain Stage, The Thistle & Shamrock, or Philadelphia-based World CafÃ©.
Or, tap the "radio" icon and pick a genre. The rock list includes scores of regional stations and feeds from NPR in Washington with labels such as "All Songs 24/7" and "the Ultimate NPR Workout Mix."
Tap "artists" for a bewildering directory of music names that link to reviews, interviews, and performances. Create a playlist of your selections from all over the app, and watch or listen at your leisure.
Pandora Radio, by Pandora Media Inc., stays on my personal list of most-used apps because it continues to please me with an inventive selection of music based on my identifying most any recording artist. The free app for most devices starts with a song by an artist of your choice, then adds similar music from other artists on a continuous playlist.
You can create an endless menu of these custom "stations." Give any song you don't like a thumbs down, and it won't play again.
The introduction of advertising on the once-ad-free Pandora has displeased some users. A paid service, Pandora One, eliminates the ads, but for $3.99 a month.
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