There are fans, and then there are fans . Once upon a time, the former, while browsing through the stacks at the local music mart, picked up the latest CD from a favored artist and dutifully trotted to the checkout counter. Fans haunted the websites of the objects of their devotion and, when a new release was due, camped out at the door of this self-same music mart four hours before opening in order to be the first to clutch the disc to their bosom.
Now that the bricks-and-mortar music mart is on its way to becoming as relevant as the drive-thru dry cleaner, what will fans do? Those whose allegiance borders on the pathological will continue to find ways to get an artist’s work early — through peer-to-peer networks or diving into recording studio dumpsters. But if your loyalty is slightly less intense, I can recommend something that’s likely to appeal.
That something is Kevin Savetz and Eric Wagner’s TunesTracker, a free service that automatically emails you when new releases from preferred artists hit the shelves of the iTunes Music Store.
To take advantage of TunesTracker travel to the site and enter your email address. In short order, an email message containing a link to the registration server appears in your In box. Browse to this server and enter and confirm a password. Click Configure and, in the next screen, enter artists names in up to 50 fields. The service checks the iTunes Music Store every evening at midnight and if it finds new releases that match your queries, it sends you an email to alert you to the existence of the new music. That email contains the name of the song and album as well as a link to the song on the iTunes Music Store.
I’ll let Kevin provide additional background:
I found myself searching the iTunes Music Store every week or so looking for new songs by my favorite artists. This isn’t just waiting for new albums to come out. Occasionally, for instance, Norah Jones will have a single cut on some new album, so I want to know about it. So I created TunesTracker for my personal use — I thought it made sense to have a computer do the obsessive checking, not me.
It works by querying Apple’s iTMS server for each search term. The server sends back an encrypted, compressed data file, so the program goes through some gyrations to decode it and ends up with an XML file describing the hits. It parses the XML file and compares the list of songs to yesterday’s list of songs. If there’s something new, it sends an email alert.
Right now it searches only based on artist name. Eventually (in my copious spare time) I’d like to add the ability to search for song titles (so you can be notified every time someone does a cover of a favorite song) and composers. I’d also like to improve its handling of clean/explicit song variations.
I can attest that it works as advertised. If you’re even mildly obsessive about your music, check it out.