Music

Due to restrictions at WordPress.com, I cannot embed the music players shown below at this particular site. You might want to click through to Desire2Blog to see this same information with embedded players that can be used on the page.

If part of your educational game plan is to provide music listening choices to your students, you have an increasing variety of choices for how to accomplish that. You can direct them to any of these sites or you can embed selected playlists into a blog post (as shown here) or inside your VLE or any other webpage where you have authoring control.

My favorite for some time now has been imeem.com. Below is a reprint of part of my post when I made imeem my #5 free web tool for 2007.

imeem is now my (free) music provider of choice. I still like Pandora which was on my 2006 list, but imeem has gone a long way toward making it legal for me to listen to almost any full-length track that I want to, in the order that I want to, as often as I want to. You can create playlists using any music that you can find on the site, such as the one embedded below with a selection of holiday music. Here is the link to this playlist at imeem.

imeem.com music embed

The fact that you can embed a playlist like that on any webpage also makes it extremely useful. I like the fact that I can put it on any blog I choose, but I can also put it on any other webpage where I have writing permissions, such as on a page inside a VLE (virtual learning environment such as D2L or Blackboard) for an online class.

Notice that not all the songs in that playlist are full-length. When I am logged in to my imeem account and using the playlist at their site, they are all full-length. By embedding the playlist, some songs are shortened to 30 seconds depending upon licensing agreements between imeem and the music company in question. Songs on imeem will be only a 30-second preview if the artist or record label has not signed an agreement with imeem giving approval for full-length streaming. Their interpretation of copyright fair use principles indicates that a 30-second preview is acceptable. When you search for a song on imeem you’ll see right away whether it is a preview or full-length.

For songs that you already have on your computer, you can upload them to your imeem account and listen to them full-length, regardless of whether imeem otherwise has permission for that song.

You can use your imeem account to store and play audio and videos, and also to store and display photos. It can easily be used for podcasting, as explained here in their FAQ section. Although I haven’t done it, it would be easy to embed the player inside your VLE, then each time a new podcast is uploaded it will appear in the player for students or other subscribers to listen to. For video files, imeem supports many different file types, but recommends .MPEG, .MOV, .FLV, and .AVI for optimum results. The suggested video size is 400×300, but other sizes will work as well. For music files, imeem supports mp3s only, with a recommended sampling rate of 44.1 kHz. At this time there are no maximum file size limitations for uploading video or other file types.

imeem certainly has it’s critics since some people don’t like anything that is ad-supported. But come on, they’re doing all the heavy lifting by dealing directly with the a-hole record companies, they’re helping make it legal to access your music from any Internet connection, and they’re enabling you to legally share the music of other account holders. In my book, that’s a pretty good deal. Did I mention that it’s free?

Another choice: Songza

Songza is a little bit like iMeem, although doesn’t yet seem to have as much functionality built into it. First thing I noticed is that Songza is built on the Skreemr music search engine. Apparently one way that they are solving their copyright issues is by providing mostly live versions of songs, and some of which are clearly not the “official” version such as from a live album. Still, I was able to find many songs that I liked and able to build a playlist of songs to be saved for my next visit, such as this version of Black Betty. (Click image to go to song at Songza.)

Songza embedded player

iMeem has a better interface, has more songs available, allows you to save more than one playlist, and allows you to embed a playlist as opposed to a single song as shown above from Songza. As of this writing, I very definitely still prefer iMeem, but I’ll be keeping my eye on Songza.

Another choice: seeqpod

Seeqpod.com is another fast-growing music site. Here is a playlist that I threw together rather quickly, but it somewhat mirrors a train of thought and discovery that I followed. I searched for a .38 Special song that I like, and from that I let the Discover button lead me to lots of other music that also fits my musical taste buds. .38 Special led me to Molly Hatchet, which led to Creedence and then Skynyrd and then James Gang and Rick Derringer and on and on. It was actually a lot of fun. (Click image to go to playlist at seeqpod.com)

Seeqpod music embedded playlist

Oldie but Goody: Pandora

Based on the Music Genome Project, Pandora allows you to customize your own music channels so that you can listen to your favorite songs or artists, and other tunes similar to those. From the website: “Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or “genes” into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song – everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It’s not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records – it’s about what each individual song sounds like. Over the past 6 years, we’ve carefully listened to the songs of over 10,000 different artists – ranging from popular to obscure – and analyzed the musical qualities of each song one attribute at a time. This work continues each and every day as we endeavor to include all the great new stuff coming out of studios, clubs and garages around the world.””Over 400 different musical aspects are considered when selecting the next song. Examples of these are rhythm syncopation, key tonality, vocal harmonies and displayed instrumental proficiency.” (from Wikipedia)

In the screenshot you can see that for my Natalie Merchant channel, it first played My Skin from her Ophelia recording, then played a song by Sarah McLachlan, then one by Jessica Stone, then the Guilded Cage, and then another song by Natalie Merchant, This House is on Fire.

This is great to have open in a browser while you’re working for a little background music. You can even train it to provide more of the music that you like and less of those that you don’t like. Overall, it is very cool. No download, all web-based, access your channels from any Internet connection, and totally free.

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