When it comes to streaming services covered in digital music news, things are typically divided into two categories: on-demand streaming like Spotify and Rdio, and internet radio like Pandora, iTunes Radio and Songza. However, that certainly doesn't mean that these types of sites are the only way to find and listen to music online.
A new interesting service that has popped up recently is Upbeat, a community where new music is shared by a user and then other users vote the songs up or down to the top (or bottom) of the forum. If you've ever used Reddit or Hacker News, the process works very similarly to those communities.
All the internet radio services listed above have features that play songs based on your listening history and feedback. And while these are great ways to find music that you’ll likely be interested in, that doesn't mean that it’s always the best way to discover new bands and songs.
Upbeat can be a great addition to your digital music library, particularly if you have eclectic taste in music and/or like to find bands on the cusp of success or outside the mainstream. The format also inherently provides interaction with a community that can lead to even further exploration.
The way the service works is dead simple, including how you post and listen to songs. The service is tied to SoundCloud, so essentially to post a song you search SoundCloud until you find it, and then it will be posted to Upbeat automatically. From there, you can play posted songs directly from your browser, and you also can play from directly from the mobile site. For every song you listen to you’ll have the option to visit the SoundCloud page, post the song to Twitter or buy from Amazon.
As mentioned before, users on the site opt to up vote a shared song, down vote it or do nothing at all. This determines the song’s placement in the order of the site, with the songs getting the most up votes rising to the top. You can sort your list by genre (Pop, Electronic, Urban, Rock or Metal) or you can get a list that includes all categories. In addition to voting on the songs, users also can comment on the songs that are playing.
The appeal to independent artists, of course, is that assuming your music gets noticed by the community, you can create an entirely new place to find fans. Landing that initial notice, however, is a bit easier said than done - just like any online music marketing.
Another thing that separates Upbeat from other internet streaming service is that it would seem they have no hurdles to clear to ensure that all the songs can be legally streamed on the site. Since all the songs are hosted on SoundCloud, Upbeat essentially just acts as a middleman facilitating music discovery.
Or, as Upbeat puts it: “Upbeat is the internet’s music charts, a place where you can find new and popular songs voted on by the users.”