I like finding new music but I don't really seem to be able to use ITunes to do this. Why? Because I find the best way for me to find the things that I like is to listen to a stream of new music while I work and pick out what I like by listening to the whole song. ITunes does not create this radio station like experience since they limit you to 30-90 second clips that you have to find yourself.
Everyone talks about Pandora as the best way to find new music but I find that what is plays for me is usually something I have heard before and almost never any indy music or anything really cutting edge. This may be my fault as I am picking the starting song for my station.
What I have found is a free service called The Sixty One. The TheSixtyOne does not look like any traditional website I have come across and this may be off-putting to the new visitor. The site is actually a HTML5 music player which requires flash. It uses a unique quest based system to encourage you to learn it's features and to interact socially with artists and other users.
When you first open it, it will immediately begin exposing you to new music and artists. As you begin to experiment with the controls you can make the player produce new artists based on your mood or how adventurous you are feeling at the moment. If you like a particular artist you can get the player to dwell on that artists songs for a while before moving on.
The best part is, these are not artists who are getting much in the way of exposure on radio or ITunes. I don't know how these artists are brought to this service but they do a great job finding them. The player will try to hook you up with links to purchase what you have just heard but it often fails to do this last essential part very well. I often have to go to ITunes or Amazon myself to purchase songs but that is a small price to pay for finding new music. I wonder why Apple does not look to have better integration with this service simply to move more new music. For that matter, why don't they start streaming some of their own content in a similar manner. Radio stations were always the best way to move music in the past and ITunes does not really seem to offer us any alternative to the 30 second snippet. These two services go great together.
It is a pity that there is no SixtyOne service for the iPod itself. I would love to listen in my car. There is an IPad application with a different user interface but drawing on the same idea of discovery and streaming that the flash based website provides. It is called AWEditorium and it serves up TheSixtyOne's content on an IPad.
Apple should forget or modify their Ping service and look into bringing this type of social streaming service directly to ITunes. I would sell a lot of music but If they do they should not loose the Indy feel that the service offers now.