College is not only about learning, but learning who you are -- and that includes discovering the music you'll enjoy for the rest of your life. Yes, not only do many lifelong friendships start on campus, but it's also a place where musical taste settles after students are exposed to all kinds of new music.
The reason for this is people. College brings students together from all sorts of backgrounds and geographical areas, and with them, their music.
With that in mind, we decided to take a look at the best music apps for enhancing life on campus. We wish we'd had these back at school, so we're sharing them with you now. Pass it on.
Tomahawk: Forget about file-sharing -- Napster is so 1999. The new hotness is Tomahawk, a social music application for Mac, Window, or Linux. Once you make friends with other users via GChat, Twitter, or Jabber, you can connect to their machines to play their music, but it does all sorts of other neat stuff too, like importing playlists from all sorts of other services and playing them using a combination of your library and your friends' libraries; letting you see what your friends are listening to and joining them at that specific point in the song. It creates streaming radio stations out of the "Super Collection" of music shared by you and your friends. Tomahawk used to be sort of challenging to use, but the latest 0.2 version adds quite a bit of polish. Oh, and the whole thing is a free and open source, so even that kid with the Che Guevara t-shirt can get into it.
Rolling.fm: Much like Turntable.fm, upon which it was modelled, Rolling.fm turns people into little avatars so they can DJ music to each other in virtual rooms. Other than a few key differences (there's no limit on the number of DJs, and you can write "graffitti" on the walls), it's pretty much a Turntable.fm clone. But it's apparently used by lots of college students, because every time we look at it, it shows several rooms dedicated to specific schools. Be a hero and set one up for yours, or join the one that already exists to find the other cool kids.
Algoriddim djay + iPad + special cable: Yes, the rumors are true; parties do happen in college. Back in the day, you had to bring a crate of records and turntables for other partygoers to spill beer on and otherwise trash. These days, all you need is an iPad full of tunes, Algoriddim's full-fledged DJ app, and a $20 cable from Griffin Technology that lets you cue up the next track privately in your headphones as the rest of the party rocks out to the speakers. We call that an improvement.
Music+: Facebook famously began as a way for Harvard students to check each other out, and it continues to be a valuable on-campus tool for meeting people, making friends, gossipping, and so on. But Facebook doesn't have its own music service, and lots of the music apps that run on the platform are lame. Instead of embedding songs from YouTube, try Music+, a Chrome extension that puts play buttons next to artist names on Facebook, lets you listen to just about any artist's music on blogs, YouTube, or Rdio in seconds, and -- most importantly from a social networking perspective -- lets you embed songs in your Facebook feed so that your new friends can finally comprehend how cool you are.
A music subscription: We know -- we sound like your parents. But as great as these resources are, there's no substitute for being able to play just about any song in the world in seconds, as soon as you hear about a certain band; build playlists consisting of all your new discoveries; and take them to the library, gym, or wherever on your smartphone. You can probably even get your parents to foot the bill by pointing out how much money they'll save by not having to defend you from a file sharing lawsuit. (One of these, Rdio, now offers a family plan.)
Follow Eliot Van Buskirk on Twitter: www.twitter.com/evolverfm