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Find songs, create playlists with Just Hear It

I've finally found a replacement for Songerize, which has been broken since early this year. Just Hear It provides you a list of songs to play on demand or add to a playlist.

I've been looking for a replacement for playable search engine Songerize, and this morning, I stumbled across Just Hear It, which offers a much better experience than Songerize ever did.

Enter a song title or artist's name, and Just Hear It returns a list of possible matches--including not only audio tracks, but also YouTube videos. (Songerize didn't offer choices, but started playing what it thought was the best match, and it didn't have any video content.)

In my tests so far, Just Hear It has always delivered the song I was looking for somewhere in the first-page results, though sometimes, I've had to enter both artist and title--for example, searching "Thrasher" didn't return the Neil Young song of that name until I entered Young's name.

Often, the engine turned me on to alternate versions--live tracks, cover versions--that I didn't know existed. You can play results immediately or compile them into a playlist, but you can't save playlists between searches, unless you're a member, which makes this feature kind of worthless. (Membership is currently available by invitation only.)

The site needs a few tweaks--the "search" button at the top of the page seems to return random results (maybe it's a list of what other searchers are looking for?), so you have to click the logo and return to the home page to conduct additional searches.

The fact that the entire site is a Flash application makes navigation difficult--the "back" button doesn't work, and if you click on "About," you're stuck there with no way to the home page except reloading. The light-gray text on black background isn't the best design choice. Still, this is the best service I've seen so far for hearing that song you need to hear right now.

According to the "About" page, the site is legal--it pays for licenses from the three major organizations, BMI, ASCAP, and CESAC, and it apparently pays publishers royalties based on the number of plays they receive. (I can't imagine how it's accomplishing this, given that the site's free and so far doesn't have advertising.) But although paying publishing rights is sufficient for traditional ("terrestrial") radio, Internet radio stations must also pay performance royalties, which are owned and managed by a completely different group of bodies.

There's been an ongoing debate over the last two years regarding a proposed rate increase for performance royalties--CNET's Greg Sandoval wrote a detailed account of the latest developments in February--but suffice it to say, claiming that you're legal doesn't necessarily make it so.

In other words, enjoy Just Hear It while it lasts.

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