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Bandloop and the hunt for local music

A Bandloop developer talks up two aspects of show-tracking that I overlooked: geo-coding of clubs and more listings for obscure local bands and venues.

Last week, I posted about Bandloop, an online service that helps music fans find out when their favorite bands are playing a show in their area. I noted its similarities to Jambase, and mentioned that it's hard to compete with Jambase's "near perfection."

Bandloop's Google Maps mash-up.

On Thursday, I got an e-mail from Bandloop developer Owen Grace, who pointed out a couple of key areas where he thinks Bandloop tops the competition. First, every venue entered in Bandloop's database is geo-coded with precise coordinates, which makes it possible to map out an evening's entertainment precisely. For example, check out this mash-up created by Effing Music that combines Bandloop's gig listings (accessible through an API--developers can inquire here) with Google Maps. Bandloop also offers a similar mash-up based around your ZIP code.

Grace's second claim is that Bandloop lists many more gigs by local bands at relatively obscure venues than Jambase does. He pointed me to some evidence a couple of venues in San Francisco, but I had trouble getting the same level of information for Seattle. Why? Because Bandloop doesn't let you search on the name of venues but only on the name of bands. Rather, you have to back into venue listings by searching on bands and then clicking on the venue name, or by going through the Google Maps mash-up on Bandloop's site. (Grace says they'll have search-by-venue on the site soon.)

This gets to the reason why I didn't blog about these features in the first place: while they're impressive technically, I'm not sure how useful they are when combined with Bandloop's interface as it stands now. For national bands, yes, I want to subscribe to updates and be informed as soon as they announce a date in my area. But when it comes to local music, I'm either already a fan--in which case I'm probably on their mailing list and know when they're playing a show--or I'm simply looking for something to do in a particular neighborhood where I'm meeting friends or having dinner. In that case I'll just look up the Web site for a couple nearby venues to see who's playing.

Of course, if Bandloop contained every obscure Seattle band I'm interested in, then I might simply subscribe to all of them and plan my evenings around particular shows. And if it's missing a few favorites--well, I could always enter them myself.

Overall, it's a pretty darn impressive service, and I look forward to checking out their iPhone app later this month.