I've often praised JamBase, which lists tens of thousands of shows across the United States. If you want to know who's coming to town or who's playing tonight, it's infinitely more convenient than scanning the listings in your local paper.
Now it looks as if JamBase has some strong competition in the form of Bandloop. It's hard to improve upon JamBase's near-perfection, so Bandloop works in basically the same way, with a few improvements here and there.
Artists and fans populate the show database, which keeps it up-to-date--the site has more than 50,000 gig listings, the company claims. Once registered, fans can search among more than 500,000 artists and add any of them to their "loop" by clicking a big plus symbol--a bit easier than the similar tracking method on JamBase, which requires you to enter band names in a blank field.
Once you've added 20 bands to your loop, you can become a VIP member, which allows you to post your own listings. To encourage participation, Bandloop is offering gift cards for Amazon.com, iTunes, Ticketmaster, and InSound.com. The more shows you list, the more VIP rewards you earn.
I still think JamBase has a much better story with local listings: it automatically lists all shows happening tonight in your area, while Bandloop only lists shows from artists that you've selected. I guess that prevents you from getting overloaded--JamBase can be a bit daunting, if you're in a city with lots of live music--but what about serendipity? I simply can't remember to list all the bands I might be interested in seeing.
But Bandloop tops JamBase with its on-site song samples. JamBase uses an embedded control from Lala.com which won't let you fast-forward to a specific point in a song. This is a problem if, for instance, you're checking out Phish and want to skip through the applause at the beginning of its cover of the Rolling Stones' "Loving Cup."
Bandloop's audio samples are powered by Seeqpod, which scours the Web for fan uploads. This might lead to some bad title information--this Phish songlist displays a couple of incomprehensible garbles--but it also leads to some great finds, like a 23-minute cover version of the Talking Heads' "Crosseyed and Painless" (I'm still reeling from seeing David Byrne play that song earlier this week, but it wasn't anything like this).
And if you get bored with the space jam breakdown in the middle of the song, there's a slider that lets you fast-forward it to the part where Trey starts mumbling the lyric "still waiting" again and again.
I'm guessing that the Lala.com control is hampered by business rather than technical limitations--the U.S. record industry for some reason continues to resist the experience of easy on-demand music, and Lala is attempting to work legally with the industry.
Seeqpod's just a search engine, and it doesn't seek any approval from the record industry--which, unsurprisingly, landed it a lawsuit from Warner Music last year.