There are a few tunes that I've been trying to track down and listen to for a while now: an EP of Fall covers by Sonic Youth, called 4 Tunna Brix and anything by the Desperate Bicycles, about whom I wrote last year.
4 Tunna Brix, recorded for the John Peel Show may years ago, was never released officially, as far as I know, while the Desperate Bicycles oeuvre never made it to CD.
It is all to be found online but the MP3s of the songs are scattered around a variety of unofficial fan sites and can't be downloaded. So while you can listen to them, it's a relatively cumbersome process, compared with the simplicity of putting on a CD or firing up iTunes.
Anyway, the other day, a friend told me about Seeqpod, a combined music search engine and player. It lets you search for MP3s and then, via a vaguely Apple-ish interface, put them in playlists and listen to them through an on-site flash player. I tried it, found Tunna Brix and a chnk of the Desperate Bicycles' output, stored the playlists and can now listen to them whenever I want.
So Seeqpod is great. It apparently has eight million MP3s indexed, it's easy to use and the sound quality through the player is fine. You can also use it to search for music videos and articles. I've got a couple of minor quibbles with the usablity of the interface and the log-in seems a bit unreliable (it hangs sometimes for no obvious reason) but I'm sure these wrinkles will get ironed out.
You can't download your MP3s on to iTunes, as far as I can tell though I'm sure some clever person will find a way. You can, however, use it on your iPhone.
Now, it will surprise nobody to learn that a good proportion of the music found through Seeqpod is copyright-infringing and Warners is suing. Seeqpod's defence is to say in essence, that the music is not on its site and it's just pointing to it, in the same way that Google does, and nobody's suing Google.
Maybe the music industry will succeed in getting Seeqpod shut down. However, my hunch is that Seeqpod is about to become very big indeed and the record companies will have to swallow their pride and find a way of working with it.