YA Clicks February 2006

Free and Legal: Music Web Sites for Every Teen

February 2006

REBECCA PURDY AND THE WEB SURFERS FROM CENTRAL RAPPAHANNOCK REGIONAL LIBRARY

There has never been a doubt that most teens are passionate about music, but as a columnist, you know you have a hit when seven teenagers write more than three thousand words on a subject. One teen even wrote two reviews! This record-breaking verbosity has resulted in a column written almost entirely by the teens. (Don’t worry—it has been edited down to a manageable amount of text.) The real lesson here is that there is a plethora of free and legal music online that doesn’t require downloads or an MP3 player for enjoyment. Link to these sites and your teens will be humming with gratitude!

THROUGH YA EYES

allmusic
http://www.allmusic.com
All Media Guide, LLC
5I 4R 4U M J S A/YA

An easy-to-use, convenient site, Allmusic lets you access information about many diverse kinds of music, from rock to country to classical. It contains useful album and song reviews from other users and has lists of new music releases. Interesting, in-depth biographies chronicle major events of the band as well as band members and famous albums or singles that they released. Another feature is a top searches page that allows you to see what everyone else is looking for. You need to register for a free membership to access music samples or to use the advanced search option of the site, which allows you to search by country, genre, theme, or instrument. Although the site is free, it is somewhat inconvenient to have to log on to use those special features.—Chuhern Hwang.

Band Matrix
http://www.bandmatrix.com
Bandname.com
5I 5R 5U S A/YA

Band Matrix allows you to type in the name of any band or singer and takes you to their official Web page. These sites are filled with news and information; you can read about their latest albums or get information on performances. Many have message boards or even ways to contact the band or artist. You are also able to listen to their songs, watch music videos, or join a fan club. If you cannot decide what band you would like to see or if you are looking to try some new music, Band Matrix also includes the most searched bands and the site author’s favorites. The best feature of this site is its simplicity. It is so easy to get whatever information you need without searching through a complicated screen of news. You can find exactly what you are looking for quickly, but still be entertained while you are exploring this site.—Kimberly Zeitz.

2I 2R 2U S A/YA

When you arrive at this Web site, you don’t really know its purpose, so you type a band name in the box on the left and watch as the results come up . . . the band’s official Web site. Big whoopde-doo. You could just do the same thing on Google and get other cool sites as well. The only information that Band Matrix gives is where the band is originally from and their genre. If you were expecting something flashy and thrilling, this site has just one black and boring page. If you are just looking for some place to hang out, where you can randomly type some band names and see what they are all about, feel free to browse through this Web site, but don’t bother if you’re looking for tons of information concerning your favorite artist. Overall it’s a pretty worthless site, unless you don’t know how to use Google.—Laura Hernandez.

Country Music Television
http://www.cmt.com
Country Music Television, Inc.
5I 5R 5U M J S A/YA

This site has everything one would ever need to know about country music and singers, from biography to music and pictures.  There is also a feature that enables one to listen to different radio stations dedicated to certain types of country music, such as Country’s Greatest Women, Country’s Greatest Men, and Southern Rock Radio. One can also purchase music on this site, which has so much to look through and so much to offer. People of all ages would enjoy it because it features new as well as old country music. It is also well organized—a  great site where you can just have fun. —Jessica Zeitz.

JesusfreakHideout
http://jesusfreakhideout.com/default.aspx
Jesus Freak Hideout
5I 5R 5U M J S A/YA

Visit this site to find out what is going on in Christian music. Updated daily, it has lots of different features. Contests include an ongoing crazy caption photo contest and many more. It reviews the latest music and movies. The main page compiles all their recent updates and includes little blurbs from their articles and features. It’s a pretty nice layout. The archives have tons of information, so you can always find more cool stuff there to keep you occupied, such as artist interviews, song lyrics, a JFH store, and so much more. On the left side of the main page, there is an index where you can quickly find whatever you are looking for. A person could spend hours poring through all the things that this totally cool site has to see and listen to. Share it with all your friends.—Laura Hernandez.

SHOUTcast
http://www.shoutcast.com/index.phtml
Nullsoft
4I 5R 3U S A/YA

SHOUTcast is a completely free audio streaming system that grants users access to radio broadcast stations from around the world. If you’re looking for something very specific, chances are this site is not for you. But if you’re in the mood for experimenting and exposing yourself to new songs and musical styles, this is the right place. SHOUTcast is loaded with literally thousands of radio stations from all over the world just waiting to be tuned in, and they’re not limited to music. From classical stations to rock, from humor to talk shows, there’s something of interest to everyone. Although you’ll eventually find a station that fits your tastes, you might have to wade through several stations to get to what you’re looking for, especially if you use the site’s “Quick Genre” search list. You can narrow your search by using the “Comprehensive Genre Search” list. From there you would look under “Rock” and click on “Pop.” You still might have to explore some of the selections to find something that suits your needs, mostly because several stations are in foreign languages. A feature that could be added would let users limit their searches to include only stations from a certain country. Other than that, SHOUTcast is great for people who want to find some new, good music. The site is very clean and uncomplicated, and virtually devoid of any of those annoying pop-ups that seem to appear on lots of other music sites. You can limit the bandwidths of your searches to include only the kinds that are compatible with your modem speed. Who knew that Latvian hip-hop could be so entertaining?—Kristine Hadeed.

Songfacts.com
http://www.songfacts.com
Songfacts, LLC
4I 4R 3U J S A/YA

Diehard music fans will love Songfacts. It supplies you mainly with facts about the song and information about the band, but it also offers a place to post information yourself. For certain songs, you can find the lyrics. I looked up the Beatles and found out what they were feeling and what was going on in their lives at the time that certain songs were written. Among a few music-related games is a quiz that tests your knowledge on music facts, such as what music group requested that only brown M&Ms be served backstage. Songfacts is mainly for teens but is easy enough for computer illiterates. There is even a basic “why?” page that can answer the majority of your questions and offers links if your questions were unanswered. What really struck me was that there was a place to e-mail the creators of the site to get even more information. It is a good thing that the site is easy to use because it is filled with good information. I really liked that and the fact that you can be e-mailed updates on the site. If you’re into sharing what you think about the music or band, then you’re able to do so. What can be improved? I really like to chew out a site, but this one is not too bad. The only thing I didn’t like were the ads on the sides of the information, but they are so common that it probably won’t bother the avid computer person.—Jael Cooper.

Song Fight!
http://www.songfight.org/black
songfight.net
2I 5R 3U S A/YA

The idea of Song Fight! is a simple one. Every week, a song title is released by the site. Using that title, anyone can then submit an original song. A recent title was “The Red Door,” which had twelve entries. Site browsers vote on which song they think is the best and the winner is displayed on the site. All the submitted songs are available for download as MP3 music files. These “fights” on the site are designed to let songwriters get their work out there. Packed with the songs of new, talented songwriters,Song Fight! offers something unique. It gives songwriters the opportunity to get their music out to the public without going through record companies and the other hazards of making an album. It allows listeners to hear new, fresh, original songs every week. Best of all, it’s free. In addition to music, Song Fight! also accepts cover artwork submissions, one of which is chosen for the weekly song title. If you have even a passing interest in music, Song Fight! is for you. It isn’t very difficult to use, although those new to Web browsing and computers in general might have some trouble. An FAQ section accessible from the home page is helpful, but some of its explanations could use some work. It’s the MP3 files that can cause problems. For those who don’t know, MP3 files are digital music files. If you want to listen to the music on the site, you will need a media player. Chances are that you already have one, which will just pop up and play your song. For anyone with less-than-excellent computer skills who doesn’t have a media player, the process can be a nightmare. At the bottom of the homepage are links to common media players, but the site gives no real help otherwise. If you want to submit a song to the site, the other major problem is creating an MP3 for your song and uploading it to the site. Those who have done computer recording before should have no trouble, but for those who haven’t, the site offers no explanation as to how to create your MP3. Song Fight! is great entertainment for anyone who likes music.—Dylan Vasey.

Yahoo! Music
http://music.yahoo.com
Yahoo!
3I 4R 5U M J S A/YA

By using a well organized layout, the Yahoo! music site makes it easy to find specific topics. It is very informative, showing the title of each category, such as music news or music videos, at the top of each divided frame. This site gives easy access to information while allowing the user to listen to new music and watch music videos. The music video section is separated into  categories of music genres and top music videos. A search makes it easy to find a specific item. There is a link to a variety of radio stations for the user to listen to. Each radio station category has numerous stations and a browse link to view all the stations, giving the description of the type of music and bands that each station plays.—Rebecca Zeitz.

KUDOS FOR LIBRARY TEEN SITES

TeenLinks
http://www.hclib.org/teens
Hennepin County Library (Minnesota)

This site is fun! Teens are empowered right from the start when they choose a color for the site’s decorative background circles. If you change colors often (hey, it was research!) and are in the Teen Topics section, you’ll find a fun surprise in the picture of the woman with Elvis. Advocating for teens, Teen Topics Web sites include everything from information for gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens to money management. Only a few Web sites are initially listed for each category; anyone ready for more can click “Show all websites” for a comprehensive list. Booklists on a variety of subjects have been created. These lists are clear  and easy to read, showing users instantly whether a title is also available in other formats. The vital role of teen participation is not forgotten—Teens Online is a volunteer group that helps with several aspects of TeenLinks creation. On top of current trends, RSS Feeds are also available for many areas, and links include Author Blogs.

[Note on the Kudos section: If you think your site is worthy of consideration, please e-mail me at rpurdy@crrl.org. The Web Surfers and I will surf submissions and choose one to showcase for each column.]

Rebecca Purdy is the Youth Services Manager at the Headquarters Library of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library system in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Web Surfers are a collection of teens willing to volunteer some of their time to see their names in print and help all of you young adult librarians find some good sites for your Web pages.

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