There’s certainly no shortage of music-related sites offering all kinds of info and selling opportunities on the Web, but there are a few that have better chances of survival thanks to their strategic alliances with well-established entities worldwide. ArtistDirect.com has been able to stay afloat thanks to the connections it has forged with many established high-profile artists and its links to ubl.com, a search engine with a database of over 100,000 artists and millions of links.
Once viewers visit the site’s home page, browsers can see these exclusive relationships right away. On the day sampled, one could find a slew of impressive giveaways and music downloads connected to the likes of Madonna, Cher, Blink 182, and the eels. There was even a chance to win a pair of red velvet pants worn by Ricky Martin.
As is the case with most music sites, there are plenty of opportunities to download a healthy selection of tracks, read about the latest votes for the best album of 2000 (Radiohead, U2, Badly Drawn Boy, David Gray or PJ Harvey? You make the call!) or buy that Britney Spears navy bucket cap for $19.99.
The site’s news section is well-organized and easy to digest, and seems to be a good way to find out about the movers and shakers of the music world. It’s also well-wired to lead to all kinds of artist-specific links, as well as connections to Q Online and Wall of Sound’s CD reviews.
The Artist Links corner claims it can “find every site for any band on Earth,” and when we tried some obscure groups, it did a fine job of delivering the right addresses. The info section also includes a healthy collection of trivia about Ezines and print publications devoted to music, and we especially got a kick out of the Artists Picks area, where you find out, for example, that Dan Wilson of Semisonic, likes to listen to Joni Mitchell, R.E.M., Nirvana and The Beatles.
If you’re a member, you can also enjoy check out the “Uncensored” section under the general video umbrella. This section gives users a unique opportunity to listen to Henry Rollins’ views on pain, or Aimee Mann’s musings on how music can save your life. The weekly editorial columns by Michael Goldberg, which run under “The Drama You’ve Been Craving” header, are well-informed and have a breezy, notes-from-a-fellow-music-fan feel to them. In a recent missive, for example, he wrote about his fondness for U2’s “Pop” album, which was unanimously panned again when the band’s new, supercool album “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” project hit the stores.
Also noteworthy is the Musician Resources corner, where the frazzled musician can find all kinds of info about helpful Web sites dealing with anything from keyboards and drums to bass and guitars.
What ArtistDirect lacks is Launch.com’s customized music profiles, and Savage Beast’s experiments in a “music genome” database compiled by expert listeners. In this brave new world, you’ve got to keep up with companies like Music Buddha, which offers up musical subgenre samples at a mere click on the cursor, and can predict the visitor’s musical taste after a few visits.
Nevertheless, Music Buddha probably only wishes it could offer Ricky Martin’s clothing.