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World Music Features

Global Web Trends

By Carl Negro
Published February 15, 2008

Overwhelmed by the crush of music sources on the ’net? If you’re a world music fan and you want to research it, buy it, watch it or chat about it, we’ll point you in the right direction with our Global Web Trends.

The rise of the internet has opened up an endless spectrum of new opportunities for both lesser-known artists and bigger bands from around the world. Here are a few sites— for neophytes and experienced web-surfers alike—that are helpful sources for learning about, downloading, watching or otherwise consuming great music and music videos.

 

YOUTUBE www.youtube.com

 

YouTube single-handedly created the online video craze when it launched in 2005. The site still boasts more videos than all of its competitors combined—over 100 million videos are streaming there daily. It has a reputation for sillier videos with teenage pranks, bizarre chemistry experiments (Diet Coke and Mentos) and “dramatic chipmunks”, but over time YouTube has developed a surprisingly large cache of rare music videos, live concerts and documentaries from across the world. For instance, check out Jethro Tull and Fela Kuti (!) live in Munich in 1983, or the grip of videos featuring the Balkan gypsy band Taraf De Haïdouks. All videos on YouTube are free and anyone can upload to it. The only downside is that audio quality can be suspect, and some videos may contain text-overlay advertisements now that the site has begun to draw up licensing deals with content providers (like Universal, Sony and Warner) to avoid infringement lawsuits.

 

 iTunes MUSIC STORE

 

www.apple.com/itunes

 

Although it’s geared mostly toward major label releases, iTunes does have a decent amount of new and reissued world music recordings. It’s also got a lot of bandwidth, which makes for very fast and sometimes deadly impulse buys like the Darjeeling Limited film soundtrack, which has everything from The Kinks to Asha Bhosle to Ustad Vilayat Khan. The toss-up is Apple’s AAC audio format. It truly can be a pain if you want to move your music to more than one computer or if you use a non-iPod mp3 player, and it has limitations on how often you can burn music to a CD.

 

MYSPACE www.myspace.com

 

MySpace has more or less eliminated the need for artists to build stand-alone websites. Just about every artist on the market, new and old, hip or square, living or dead (no joke) has a MySpace page. A typical page usually includes a few embeddable videos of live performances or a music video, and anywhere from one streaming track to an entire album. The problem is the actual website. It’s badly constr