Tech Talk: In tune with YouTube

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THE number one music jukebox out there right now isn’t the one on your phone or iPod, and certainly not the big old one in the corner of the pub – it’s a website that was designed with sound as an afterthought.

YouTube is the destination for switched-on music lovers now – not to watch videos but just to hear the soundtrack. No matter if it’s this week’s chart or old, forgotten favourites; it’s quite simply the biggest and most accessible music library in the world. And it’s free.

But as it stands, it’s neither portable nor especially quick to navigate – and that’s where a slew of new apps come in.

Justplay.fm is at the simpler end of the app scale; it’s a website that searches YouTube’s vast index for a song or artist of your choosing. It then displays all the results in a simple list from which you can select favourites to store as a library. The YouTube video (sometimes it’s just a still frame of the record that’s playing) is displayed in a small window at the bottom of the screen. It’s better than using YouTube itself to browse.

Another website, tubalr.com does a similar job and also allows you to save lists of songs to a playlist, but it’s an app called Soundbox that takes the idea a stage further. Available at the moment just for the iPad, it’s a complete database system that meshes your iTunes library and the whole of YouTube in a single index. Search for The Rolling Stones, for instance, and Soundbox brings up scores of videos. Those you tick are added to your library.

The best PC-based jukebox is Tuberadio.fm, which searches not only YouTube but also other people’s shared playlists and your own music library. It lets you see an artist’s entire discography, too, and then save all or some of it to a playlist.

It’s a system so good it could make buying records obsolete – and that’s the catch. The record companies realise this and have blocked some of their content. So far that’s proving about as effective as herding cats... so for the moment, enjoy the music.