Music may have been around since the dawn of time, when our ancestors were banging sticks together, but it took Napster breaking all of the rules to make music big on the internet. Since then, services have been appearing left and right, all promising to give you the moon…or at least any song you wish to hear. The RIAA may not yet be fully comfortable with all of this, but technology moves forward and the recording industry, despite its best efforts, cannot stop the future from happening.
But, along the way, we’ve lost a lot of the freedom in finding new music, and somehow YouTube — a video site — has become the best place to find music for free. There’s tons of great music focused services today, from Pandora and Google Play All Access to Xbox Music and iTunes, but none are free. Even the old fashioned radio was better than this, if you simply wanted to find new music for free.
That’s exactly why you need to check out Earbits.
Start Me Up
“Earbits was designed with one goal in mind – to make it dead simple for artists and music lovers to find each other, and create meaningful connections. Earbits is streaming music built by musicians and music lovers, for musicians and music lovers”.
That is how the service describes itself. Our task is to see if it lives up to its own hype.
To begin exploration, head over to Earbits, where you the service is free and no sign-up is required. With that said, you can register an account to save your favorites — an option I would recommend. An email and password is all you need, but customers can also use Facebook login as well.
The main page is simple, with a list of editor’s picks from various genres. It looks rather simple, but there is a bit more going on behind the scenes, just waiting to be discovered.
Find and Listen to your Tunes
The most obvious choice, the Editor’s Picks, is simple — click whatever category you want and music begins streaming automatically. The play screen is rather simple, but that is meant in a good way. Tracks come up with a simple media player with controls across the top of the screen and a minor bit of additional information at the bottom, including links to artist bio and albums, and provides a way to leave comments for artists and other listeners.
As for the player, it allows for a bit of social interaction for those so inclined — customers can share tracks via both Facebook and Twitter, as well as “favorite” a song to save it. Starring, or favoriting, a tune gives the option for sharing it as well, but you are not forced to do so.
Favorite songs will all be stored in your own personal database, which is something we shall move along to in the next section of this review.
While many web services provide an easily visible menu that propagates itself right across the top of the screen, just as software applications do, Earbits seems to want to keep the user experience a bit cleaner. The result is a rather more hidden menu.
Customers need to search out the access method for the list of options. Thankfully, you are reading this so you shall receive the free hint. Click the tiny down arrow to the right of the company logo, which is located at the top left of the screen.
The menu is rather simple, but sometimes less is more. It provides a search option and a link to the homepage. More importantly, though, is perhaps the options for favorites songs, which gives an easy way to access music you liked in the past. Complimenting this, there is Play History, which provides the rather obvious list, but a bit of detail. Those details include not onyl song title and artist name, but also how long ago you grooved to the track, as well as links to favorite it (in case you forgot) or buy it.
The menu does not end there though. Yes, there is more — how about Genre Channels, access to your own custom channels, links to artist profiles and the ability to go full-screen. Okay, that last one may be a bit much, as most of us want music as a background service, but it is still a nice touch.
Don’t Forget the Little Green Robot
Earbits operates mainly as a web app, but the service is not limiting itself to a single platform. To that end the company is pushing an Android app — though not too hard, as it can only be found as a small link at the very bottom of each page. Look for “Get the Android App”, or simply head over to the Google Play Store to grab it. The app is free and has a very minimum requirement of Android 2.2 or newer.
The service promises “It gets better. On Earbits, you won’t find commercials. You won’t find unrelated ads. And you won’t find subscription fees”.
Tune In, Turn On, Burn Out
But thankfully not “in the radiation”! All of this does not mean there is no popular artists here, though, that may have been your initial impression. Truth be told, you will find Primus, Widespread Panic, My Morning Jacket and other awesome musicians with strong followings.
For the grand sum of “free” this service can not be beat. In fact, even for a few dollars per month it would be well worth while for its capabilities. Discovering new music and listening to up-and-comers on the charts can not be beat. The capabilities for saving tracks and checking history are also nice touches. Now, the only question is what you wish to listen to today.