There are plenty of ways to discover new music nowadays: pretty much any music-related app will try to recommend you new artists based on your taste, and that isn’t even counting the media and most importantly, your friend’s recommendations. There are also plenty of ways to find information and videos from your favorite artists on your iPad.
However, is there any way to do all of those with one simple app? If you’d like to have an all-round music app that can help you find information, videos, and much more stuff from your favorite artists while navigating a simple and pretty iPad app, then you might be interested in Groovebug. Let’s take a look!
Groovebug is powered by “The Echonest”, which is a music platform that powers many other related apps and provides them with accurate information and tools. So, everything that you find in it like news, albums, and other kinds of information, will be in a big part provided by The Echonest.
Now, it’s hard to describe an app like Groovebug, as it really does a little bit of everything without really settling in one place. Let’s leave it at “a very complete music app”. With it you can access your whole library of artists and see a bunch of information about each one of them, like their albums, songs, videos, news, and related artists. Not only that, it also works with events and genres. But the best thing is that all of this is done with the ease and speed of a mobile app.
Navigating the app is pretty easy. Once you get to the front page of the app, you’ll see a main area with a bunch of frames, each one of them with a different music genre or relevant recent event. On your right side you have the library, in which you can navigate through the artists that you have in your iPad’s iPod app.
As you navigate through the app searching for relevant information, you will be taken through pages and pages of stuff, which you can go forward and back from by simply swiping your fingers to the sides. In your bottom right corner, there will always be a small “Home” button, which will quickly take you to the front page. And as you access an article through the in-app browser, or a video as a small YouTube window, you can always go to the corresponding full app by going to the “Open in Safari/YouTube” buttons.
If you select any of the artists that you have in your library; a menu with information will presented. This is divided into a few pages, and as you browse them there will always be a changing background picture from the artist. The first page is a biography pulled from Wikipedia. The second page is the music, in which you’ll be shown the songs that you have from the artist in your library, as well as the iTunes previews for the rest of their music. From here you can access iTunes or simply just preview songs directly in the app.
The third page has videos from the band, which are extracted from YouTube. The fourth page is the news from the artist, which are usually pulled from popular websites like Pitchfork and Paste, but also have some nice other not-so-well-known sources. The last page is the “Related Artists” page, which is nicely shown with pictures from each artist and with a cool vinyl animation.
Genres & Events
The “Featured Content” is the main frame while you are on the front page, and it has a bunch of recent events and all kinds of genres that you can choose from, and they are all arranged by compatibility with your own library. The events, which usually consist of festivals, will show you the lineup with links to each artist, and some useful quick links (like to the main site of the festival, the site where you can purchase tickets, and links to the festival’s social network profiles).
Then there are the genres, which are probably my favorite thing about this app. You can choose pretty much any genre and get a brief and very humorous introduction to the genre by the app’s developers, along with a number of artists related to the genre and a list of recent news from it. I don’t usually like labeling music by genres, but I think this is a great way to get to know new music, even more so than by the “related artists” thing. I see it as a kind of “editorial picks” section, and I found a number of great artists here that I had no idea existed.
The “Chicago Blues” genre has some real gems in it, check them out!
I have a small capacity iPad, so I don’t keep much music (if any) inside it, just a couple of playlists. This is why the app doesn’t exactly work for me in certain aspects, like the genre/event compatibility and the ability to choose artists from my library (because you know, I don’t keep my full library in my iPad). I think it would work much better, especially for me, if you could somehow link it and use information from your Last.fm profile or your computer’s iTunes library through the wireless library feature.
There’s also something wrong with its looks. I like the interface and the navigation, I find them very simple and easy to access, but the design isn’t as pretty as it should be. For example, the pictures that it pulls from the internet to display once you pick an artist are sometimes pixelated, distorted or have captions from websites. This, coupled with a few bad font choices and a few other details, take a little bit away from the experience of using this app. This isn’t really a big deal, but for people who enjoy good design it might feel a little bit awkward.
I like the idea behind Groovebug. I think it’s executed nicely, and I think I might even go back to it after this review. The thing is, there are already plenty of sources for me to do what this app does, whether it’s finding news or watching videos; and most of them are better at it than this app is. It’s just that none of them really integrate with my iPad so nicely and come together as this app does.
I think there could be some improvements that would make it go from a good app to an excellent one, but for the price of free there really isn’t much to complain about. Instead, go try it and tell us what you think about it!