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One of my favorite programs is Tiny Desk Concerts. On the NPR Music App, you can watch video of these concerts. They feature the artists performing live in the NPR offices, with stripped down instrumentation. It’s very much like “unplugged” music that was so popular in the 1990s. However, there is no requirement that the artists use only acoustic instruments. The performances are minimalistic because it’s difficult to have a huge electric band performing in an office. It’s unique and offers a new perspective on an artist’s material.
First Listen is another great NPR program. When a new album releases, you can listen to the whole thing on First Listen. It’s a very generous offering. This is a great way to discover new music, or find out if your favorite artist’s new album is worth buying. Don’t expect huge, major label artists to debut their albums here. However, you’d be surprised at how many successful artists participate in this program. They featured the latest Dinosaur Jr. and Spiritualized albums. It’s a great way to market an album.
NPR Music offers an iPad and iPhone app. Both are exceptional. Of course, the iPad version offers more functionality. It features an elegant, magazine-style layout which is easier to use. Live concert broadcasts are only available on the iPad app. You can even use AirPlay to beam these onto your TV. This is great for busy people lacking free time. You don’t have to go out clubbing to check out the new band with all the buzz. They have even done live broadcasts of some larger acts, such as The Shins.
The iPad version also features an enhanced playlist. One can save the playlist’s content for offline use. That’s great for those of us with wi-fi-only iPads. The iPad version will also make recommendations based on your playlist. You can even get recommendations based on your iTunes Library.
The NPR Music app is amazing, but it doesn’t completely replace Music and iTunes. NPR Music is about exploring music and finding new artists. It offers a wealth of free content. Don’t expect to download the new, top-of-the-charts pop album or use this as your music library and go-to music player app. This app is a great way to discover new music and find out more about music you already love. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, what are you waiting for?