Recently I was chatting with someone I’d just met about classical music. We exchanged favorite composers, and then I asked him about the last time he went to a symphony concert. “Actually . . . I don’t know if I’ve ever been to one. It just doesn’t occur to me to go.” It got me thinking- how many people out there love listening Tchaikovsky or Beethoven on their mp3 players but don’t know the first thing about finding a live music concert featuring their favorite composers or pieces of music? It goes for other genres too, like jazz and folk, especially for artists and presenters that can’t afford to saturate the mass media.
There are a few different services that suggest live concerts based on your existing music library and listening habits, and Songkick and last.fm are the most prominent. I also just discovered GigZme, which shows you all the concerts coming up in your area on a map, separated by genre (but they leave out country, jazz, classical, and folk- what’s up with that, GigZme?).
Songkick’s database isn’t set up to handle classical music, where “artist” can refer to any number of people (Composer? Conductor? Ensemble? Soloist?) and “track” titles are either ridiculously long (String Quartet in G Minor No. 10 Op. 90, Movement 1: Anime et tres decide) or completely unhelpful (Allegro). Songkick does, however, automatically import concerts from last.fm, so you don’t have to enter concerts into Songkick if you don’t want.
Last.fm, on the other hand, is much more suited to classical music, with artist pages for composers long dead. If a composer is tagged as being an artist in a concert, however, this has the comedic effect of advertising that the he or she is “on tour”.
The nice thing about entering concerts into the last.fm database is that you can tag not only artists, but albums and works, and sometimes you can embed previews of the music, all within the last.fm site by using simple buttons at the bottom of the editing page. That way, if someone has Puccini in their library, or has made the track “O Mio Babbino Caro” one of their “favorites,” a concert featuring Puccini will show up on their recommended events.
After entering both symphonic concerts and folk concerts into last.fm (anyone can add an event), I found it much easier to input the folk concerts. It’s very simple to embed previews for songs and links to albums because the names of the songs and albums don’t change. For classical music, however, it was much harder to dig through all of the tracks for a certain composer to find the right one I wanted to preview (because of the data inconsistently mentioned above). I found it easier to embed YouTube links to performances of the pieces. It was simple to tag the artists and composers, though. In the end, last.fm might be easier and more useful for orchestras’ pop concerts rather than their all-classical or “masterworks” shows, even though it’s doable for both.
No one wants one more site that they have to list all their concerts on. Believe me, I’ve spent enough time interning, I understand! But services like last.fm, unlike most events listing sites, can link your organization to existing fans of the artists you present. I think it’s worth it- why not try it out?