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Songkick helps you discover new bands and their upcoming shows

Find concerts and new bands without having to trudge through events sites or music recommendation services. Songkick does both for you and without the need for software.

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.

Battle of the bands tracks three different bands of your choice against MySpace activity and sales data. (Click to enlarge) CNET Networks

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.

This third leg of the service, called "BandSense" is a very novel concept. Bloggers who want to opt into the service can embed a line of Javascript into a single post or their entire blog template and get links to bands at the bottom of a post if they're mentioned. It's not just any a link spamming option, the service will only create links for bands only that are on tour. Clicking the band link in the blog goes straight to the tour dates and ticket pricing information, and if a user buys a ticket, the blog owner gets a cut. To compliment the system and keep bands you don't like (but mentioned) off your blog, you can create a blacklist. These blacklisted artists will get no such link love.

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.