Pop & Hiss

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Who's playing live? BandsInTown.com tries to answer that question

May 10, 2010 |  3:33 pm

Bands in Town Logo It sounds easy. Figure out who's playing in town. Buy tickets on the Web. What could be simpler in the age of Web 3.0?

This turns out to be maddeningly difficult for sussing out mid-tier or independent artists that aren't big enough to warrant the attention of Ticketmaster, which deals mostly with top acts.

Sure, there are local listings. Most newspapers have one, including The Times. And MySpace has one of the most comprehensive listings out there. But listings don't connect the dots for people by linking them right away to a way to buy tickets.

Todd Cronin BandsInTown This is where BandsInTown, SonicLiving and Songkick come in. BandsInTown's co-founder, Todd Cronin (right), gave us a quick drive-by of how his app works on iPhone. Once you install the app, it peeks into your iTunes collection, sees what you like to listen to and takes note of where you are at the moment, using the iPhone's GPS.

It then trolls through its database of between 150,000 and 200,000 upcoming live concerts, narrows them down to the ones near you and serves up a customized list, complete with options for buying tickets. The San Diego online service works with hundreds of ticketing companies, including Ticketmaster, to keep up its extensive database of tour dates, which Cronin says covers "more than 95% of shows" out there.

"Anyone selling tickets, we likely have that show listed," Cronin said.

One word of caution: If you like music, you may end up finding more than you bargained for. This reporter found three concerts she hadn't known about, and is about to blow just under $100 for the tickets. Ignorance would have been cheaper, but it wouldn't have been as fun.

-- Alex Pham

Photo: Todd Cronin, co-founder, BandsInTown.com. Credit: Alex Pham / Los Angeles Times

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.