Online Music Guide 2005

Whether you're searching for the next big hit or creating a personal web radio station, our top 20 music sites will get you in the groove

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BUDDYHEAD.COM Warning: this site--while it can be crass--is habit forming. In addition to off-the-cuff interviews with up-and-coming superstars, you'll enjoy its music gossip pages (Courtney Love did what?) and its Medication MP3 Blog, which offers great singles from a variety of indie stars.

SECONDHANDSONGS.COM Do you know how many artists recorded All Along the Watchtower after Bob Dylan first laid it down? The answer is 20, if you count Tito Schipa Jr.'s Italian-language rendition. This cover-tune database, which goes all the way back to the Tin Pan Alley era, is a great way to discover new music and answer nagging trivia questions.

WHATSTHATCALLED.COM Unfortunately, 30-sec. TV commercials don't roll credits at the end. If you're dying to know the name of that killer tune playing during your favorite VW ad, visit this site to find out who's behind the music.

SOUNDTRACK.NET/TRAILERS Movie trailers usually feature mesmerizing songs that are, incidentally, not always included on the movie's soundtrack album. This site tells you what's playing in the trailers, plus an abundance of information about scores and their composers too.

MUSIC.MYSPACE.COM The Friendster for musicians--and for music lovers who want something better than Friendster. Look up your favorite bands, and find out what they're listening to--you might be surprised.

• ROCK EXCHANGE

GARAGEBAND.COM Where musicians go to post their own tunes and rate others in a blind round-robin competition. A good place to hear the best--and worst--of independently produced music.

ARTISTSERVER.COM For would-be Mobys or Fatboy Slims who don't get satisfaction from the rock-oriented Garageband, this is where electronic artists swap tunes. Even if you have nothing of your own to share, you can download what you like, free.

CDBABY.COM The CD retailer for the starving artist, CD Baby will stock and sell anyone's homespun album as long as it has a bar code. Many CDs are also sold, through CD Baby, on iTunes.

MAGNATUNE.COM "We are not evil" is the slogan of this free-preview indie-music distribution site. If you want something, you'll have to pay, but at least you can first listen to the whole song or album for free, and in the comfort of your own home.

MUSICGIANTS.COM For those who think MP3-quality audio is too shabby, this service, developed under the supervision of highly regarded sound engineers, allows you to download classic albums and new releases in true CD quality for $1.29 a track or $15.29 an album.

ARCHIVE.ORG/AUDIO/ETREE.PHP The Live Music Archive is where hard-core fans go to find high-quality live recordings. It is a "noncommercial" (meaning free and legal) service, but many big acts turn up on the site, including Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz and the Grateful Dead.

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