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May 23, 2012

Music maker: How the Internet can turn you into a rock star

Long gone are the days of mix-tapes compiled from stacks of old cassettes, and music video compilations recorded off the television onto worn-out VHS. If you want to share your favourite tunes with your Twenty-First Century music-hungry mob, the computer’s where it’s at. So let’s have a closer look at some of the websites that have amplified word-of-mouth into a phenomenon that can propel a musician out of garage-band obscurity and into the million-dollar mainstream.

A sound choice for musicians

So you’ve got your lyrics and your bleeding-fingers solos sorted and the track’s been laid; now it’s time to upload your opus to the web. First stop these days is SoundCloud – a web-based service with additional desktop and mobile interfaces, which lets you record and share your tracks, monitor your listens and comments, and promote your sounds to the world via social media. Because it’s free Soundcloud is an increasingly popular tool for aspiring musicians – and, with over ten million users as of January 2012, it’s an excellent way for the online musical community to explore new artists outside the chart-driven environs of commercial radio.

Always hit the spot

We certainly can’t afford to ignore Spotify, CNET reckons it’s the ‘best free music option since stealing’. Launched as a start-up in 2010, and now backed by former Napster-mogul, Seán Parker, it’s already reaching the giddy heights of file-sharing fame – and it’s far safer than the legally-problematic Napster, because Spotify, like YouTube, is a streaming service. With a huge (and growing) sound-library that anybody can update and access,  its Amazon-esque ‘related artists’ function allows listeners to leap from one artist to the next in a leap-frog game of musical discovery. Because it’s linked to Facebook, you can see, and listen to, what your friends are listening to – and their friends can see them enjoying your own recorded tunes. Musical stalking that benefits everyone – we love it.

The sharpest way to share tunes

Finally, there’s the newest-kid-on-the-block, Tomahawk – an open-source, self-styled ‘social music player’. Unlike Spotify, which is subscription-based if you want unlimited streaming and can’t be bothered with adverts, Tomahawk is entirely free and eminently, well, social – it integrates with your twitter, Google, Jabber and accounts to broadcast your collection, and it lets you remotely stream not only our own music collection, but also your friends’. And if you want to play tracks you don’t own, well, hook Tomahawk up to your Spotify subscription to integrate the lot. A listener’s dream, definitely, but also an artist’s – once your own tunes are on your hard-drive, just make sure your Tomahawk account links up with plenty of other users, and your tunes will get streamed all across the planet. Nice.

Are you a musician? We’d love to hear your online word-of-mouth success stories here or at Nokia_Connects. Which other music-sharing services have rocked your world?