The Week’s Best New Music Apps: Music Communities, Wedding Plans & Ben Franklin
Evolver.fm interns Peter Amara and Connor McKnight offer the latest weekly music app roundup for Apple iOS, Google Android and on the web. This week's focus is on music communities, wedding planning and… Benjamin Franklin.
- Play by AOL Music (free): Social music app Play by AOL Music connects you and your favorite music with friends using a feed-style interface that links up with Facebook, Twitter, and AOL’s own Play app social network. Standout features include the ability to listen to your iTunes music through a mostly-nicely-designed player, access to a regularly-updated library of free songs and albums, and streaming radio from over 47,000 Shoutcast radio stations in a wide variety of genres. (We had issues with some of this stuff; check out our review.)
- Frenzapp Music (free): Frenzapp Music combines social networking and music listening in a different way: to help people discover music together. Listeners can “favorite” songs and as they come across them and track of friends’ favorites, as well as sharing tracks on Facebook and Twitter. The recipient can preview and purchase the song in iTunes. If you like this take on the social music discovery, a sister app called Frenzapp Apps, an app for apps, if you will, brings social networking to the process of discovering new apps.
- My Wedding Music (free): If you’re writing your vows but struggling to find the music that says it just right, this app could save you another pricey consultation with a wedding planner. My Wedding Music guides your decisions– not the killer ’80s cover band you booked six months in advance, which was a no-brainer, but the ceremonial stuff that precedes the open bar. Recordings by the app’s developer’s musical group, Will Taylor and Strings Attached, are organized by where they fit into the ceremony as complete recordings (as in no clips), with free access to whatever he adds to the app’s catalog in the future, and you also get some videos and a podcast about how to choose the right one.
- iArmonic2 ($2, pictured): Unlike its sound-alike, iArmonica is not at all related to the reed plate harmonica you may be thinking of, but rather to an entirely different wate-glass instrument called the “glass armonica.” Originally invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761 (adapting the name “armonica” from the Italian word for “harmony”), the app brings Franklin’s curious design to life in app form with rich, crystal-clear graphics, and high-fidelity sound sampled from an actual glass armonica. You can zoom and pan for easier playback, while a library with several pre-transcribed songs gets you started performing songs with this odd virtual instrument.
- AirMusic ($3): As the trend towards wirelessness in all things electronic shows no sign of abating, AirMusic provides a solid solution for streaming music from an iDevice to your Xbox 360, PS3, any PC running Windows Media Player, or another DLAN compatible device over your WiFi network. This essentially turns your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPod into a remote control/music source for playing stuff on all of those devices. It’s probably worth noting that the app can only stream tracks that are free of Digital Rights Management (DRM), so older iTunes purchases won’t play. For most of us, songs with label-imposed playback limitations are little more than a bad memory, so AirMusic should make it easy to enjoy your iTunes music through your game console, home theater system, or whatever speakers you can connect to a Windows computer.
- Spotify (free): The Spotify app allows US users to stream the recently introduced Swedish music service from their Android phones (the app also available for iPhone and other platforms). Using the app requires purchasing a $10 per month premium subscription to the service, which not only keeps you out of the waiting room for a free invite, but allows unlimited mobile streaming of over ten million tracks over WiFi or 3G, syncing with your own library, and caching of playlists for offline playback.
- Electrum Drum Machine/Sampler ($4): A versatile, pattern-based composition tool and programmable drum machine, Electrum helps you create songs and beats from your own loops and samples. You can import your own WAV files and record stuff from your iPhone’s mic within the app, allowing for quick sonic sketches as well as more professional-sounding arrangements. Electrum can also incorporate samples from the MP3s on your Android phone device with the purchase of Sonic Chop Sample Ripper ($1, available separately). The app is capable of programming up to 32 patterns which you can arrange and merge in a composition, or rearrange live as the song plays.
- Voloco (free): If you’re a fan of auto-tune effects and karaoke apps, Voloco appears to offer the best of both worlds. With vocal processing, pitch shifting and automatic key sensing for any song in your library, Voloco merges your love for karaoke with the justifiable desire to sound like a pitch perfect robo-diva, and lets you do it all with whatever song you want. Just hum or sing along to any track and the app will dial in on the proper pitch for cool vocoder-style harmonization effects.
- Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player (tiered pricing plan): With many music fans weighing their options for storing music in the cloud, it may help to know that Amazon recently announced a “limited time” offer to address some of storage limit and price concerns associated with competitors Apple’s iCloud and Google Music. In addition to offering its web-based Cloud Player app for the first time on the iPad, Amazon now charges $20 for a 20GB Cloud Drive with unlimited storage for MP3 and AAC files. (By contrast, Google Music currently uploads up to 20,000 tracks for free, and Apple’s soon-to come iTunes Match will mirror non-iTunes purchases to iCloud at 256 kbps for $25 per year, meaning that for now, Amazon lets you sign up to store more music for less.) Users who subscribe during the promotion also receive free storage for all Amazon MP3 purchases in the future as well as those made prior to the launch of Cloud Drive and Cloud Player.
- Like.fm Music Profile (free): Available in the Chrome web store, the Like.fm Chrome extension creates an evolving collage of artists from your listening trends to share with friends and fellow fans. This app/extension currently tracks plays through web apps like YouTube, Grooveshark, Pandora, Earbits, Meemix, Live365, beta.deezer, and Rdio to create a listener profile that offers detailed user statistics and scrobble to Last.fm, and it lets follow your recommendations’ impact on your friends’ listening habits.