Rolling Stone doesn’t have an app. Neither does Billboard Magazine. Spin‘s iOS app – most recently updated last August – is still pushing Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs in its Latest Reviews section (the newer iPad version is much, much better). Such smartphone music magazine inadequacies beg the question: Where can you go to find the most popular music magazines in an easy-to-peruse format?
Last October, iOS developer Jacob Lindgren answered that question with the free Music News, an iPhone-, iPad-, and iPod Touch-friendly RSS aggregator that culls article previews from Rolling Stone, Billboard, Vibe, Spin, NME.com, Blender (thought Blender is now defunct), Alternative Press, Mojo, and Paste Online.
A no-frills operation, Music News provides users with a one paragraph preview of each article that hits their sites. A click-through button in the upper right corner allows you to view the full story in an integrated browser, share it on Twitter or Facebook, or send it to friends as a link in an email.
Positives: Because Music News is really nothing more than a glorified RSS feed, it’s easy to use and awfully self-explanatory. See it, tap it, read it. All of your (admittedly paltry) options are laid out in front of you, and navigating forwards, backwards and between is a cinch.
Negatives: The nine publications covered under the Music News umbrella certainly have all had their days in the sun, but many of them have become desiccated or — in Blender‘s case — deceased. Paste folded its print version last summer, while Vibe underwent a giant editorial overhaul that’s made a pretty non-essential magazine. What’s unfortunate is that there are ways for Music News to change this and improve on its pull. If Lindgren were able to scrape Pitchfork’s content, for example, or The Guardian‘s articles, users would have a more legitimate reason for downloading the app. Also, Music News should offer a search function to make finding articles about specific artists easier, and it lacks any actual music to listen to.
Who It’s Great For: Anybody accustomed to turning to the traditional kingpins of music journalism will find this app useful, but go elsewhere if you’re looking for anything more than an aggregator, or if you’re already used to reading music blogs.