If you're a person who loves live music but hates having to keep up on when your favorite bands are coming into town, there's a great new service for you. It's called Songkick, and it's been designed to help you stay on top of upcoming concert dates, as well as discover new music from your existing tastes. It's making a complicated process wonderfully simple, and I expect it to be the next big thing in live music in the same way that Last.fm and Pandora were with prerecorded music tracks.
To figure out what you like in the first place, the service makes it easy by letting you import the library data from iTunes, Winamp, or Windows Media player using a small plug-in. That same plug-in will also update the data if you add new music to your collection.
Each artist has a page on Songkick that lists some similar bands as well as pricing and direct links to buy the tickets from 17 different vendors. Users can also leave comments (called "two cents") about a band, although CEO Ian Hogarth told me they might add a bona fide rating system to complement it later on. Also on artist pages, and an integral part of the service is the blog listing guide. Songkick will scour the web and pull up any references to the band or artist in blog posts. These show up in reverse-chronological order on the band page, and can be toggled with upcoming tour dates.
To compliment the band mentions on blog posts there's a really great service the team has built called battle of the bands. Like Alexa and Compete, battle of the bands lets you compare up to three bands together to see which one's been the most "hot" in the past five weeks based on various interactions on MySpace as well as mentions in blog posts, and the Amazon.com sales rank. The system is built to accept other streams of data, so if and when Facebook begins to make the data on artist pages a little more transparent, those numbers could be integrated into the stats too.
In the future Hogarth tells me there will be music integration on the Songkick band pages as well as the recommendations so you can listen to some tracks without having to navigate offsite. The only delay has been finding a way to do it democratically with all of the music hosting services out there. Songkick already has integration on partnered sites like Qloud and Seeqpod, and in the future intends to spread its tour date and recommendation engine even further.