Weekly iPhone Recommendation: Music Archive
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Most jamband fans have long been aware of http://www.archive.org/ , that one stop on the web for thousands upon thousands of live shows. For years it’s been the stop to stream or download concerts by bands such as moe., Phil Lesh and Friends, Rusted Root, Assembly of Dust, etc.. It’s all perfectly legal, with each band having given written permission to allow soundboards or audience recordings on the site. At over 70,000 shows by close to 3,000 bands, there’s never a shortage of something to listen to. Ahhh, but if you could only take all of that with you? What if you could have access to everything streaming that site has to offer, and just slip it into your pocket? Sounds impossible, right? A dream come true if only someone was able to sync that site to an iPhone application. Thanks to Josh Bergen and Hippyotamus Software (I see what you did there!), for $1.99 you can bring that entire site with you wherever you go.
Want to stream a recent Furthur show? Go right ahead! The Big Wu? They’re there! God Street Wine, Al and the Transamericans, String Cheese Incident? Stream ’em all!
Your startup screen is one wildly long list of bands that, like the Energizer bunny, keeps going, and going, and going, and going. The only saving grace from an endless finger slide down is the alphabet on the right. This allows you to skip to the first letter of the band you’re looking for with a single tap (when you’re talking almost 3,000 bands, this is a HUGE time saver). Once you find your band, you get your list of shows, sorted with the most recent being on top. Find your show, click the play icon on the bottom, and let it go. If you wanted to skip a few songs, down, a simple tap will play that particular song. It also saves a history of what you played, and allows you to keep a favorites list. VERY handy. The sound quality appears to be 64kpbs mp3 which, given the device, does the trick. You’ll get no complaints from me given the vast amount of music here.
To be fair, there are a few very small complaints. The list of letters on the right are very tiny, and more often than not I’ve found myself not quite at the letter I need to be at. Generally I’ve found myself off by one, so it’s not that big of a deal. The other issue is to not have the ability to fast forward to a specific part of a song. It’s not a huge issue if you’re listening to something by Tishamingo, it is if you’re listening to a 30 minute Dark Star.
The only real complaint I could possibly have is the listing of certain shows. Some bands, the Grateful Dead being a prime example, have multiple sources for many concerts, also including at least one soundboard for most. The source is never listed in the app, making it trial and error to find which one you’d like to listen to. Again, in the grand scheme of things, it’s as minor as could be.
The pros of this app heavily outweigh the cons. There’s another app that’s associated itself with archive.org called audiobop. It’s free, but with a horrific interface and selection, audiobop nothing compared to what’s on music archive. If you’re a music fan, especially a fan of improvisational music, the music archive app is the best one out there.