Despite Apple’s iTunes software being a closed platform, there have been some pretty cool extensions/addons available to it recently, in particular the well-integrated (not to mention useful) iLike sidebar. In this review I’ll talk about another addon, called iConcertCal that allows iTunes users to not only keep track of upcoming concerts from artists in their iTunes library, but of upcoming album releases as well.
First of all, iConcertCal is unlike any other iTunes addon I’ve ever seen. In reality, it is a visualizer, which are usually computer-generated patterns of color and shape meant to add visual effects to playing music.
With iConcertCal, however, gone are the fractal patterns, instead replaced with a calendar. The calendar is hands-off as far as the user concerned (no setup is necessary, in other words), and offers a couple features I found particularly useful.
Fist, when using iConcertCal, the iTunes user needs to do absolutely nothing. The iConcertCal extension automatically scans the user’s iTunes library, and looks for all the artists contained within it. An online database is then querried, and all upcoming concerts in your area by those artists are added to the calendar.
If that was all iConcertCal did, it would still be useful, but iConcertCal offers quite a bit more. In addition to being able to simply view when upcoming concerts are scheduled in your area, you can actually use iConcertCal to start a ticket purchase! Just click on the date of the concert (if a ticket icon shows beside the listing), and you’ll be taken to a website where you can purchase your tickets.
In addition to concerts, iConcertCal has the ability to look for albums. Using the same searching techniques, iConcertCal looks through your library to find the artists in it, then finds out when those artists are releasing new albums, and adds them to a calendar on a separate tab. Of course, since not all artists are releasing new albums, you have the ability to filter the results, to show (or not show), compilations, EPs, and other categories, so you see only the results you’re most interested in seeing.
And, similar to the ability to purchase tickets using iConcertCal links, you can also order your copy of an upcoming album simply by clicking on the album link provided.
All in all, I was pretty impressed with the functionality, look, and ease of use offered by iConcertCal. It does a couple things that should interest even the most casual fan (when does my favorite artist release his/her next record, and when is his/her next concert in my area?), and does them simply and well. Using iConcertCal costs nothing, and in my use didn’t affect playback or memory usage (aside from the initial iTunes library scan), in any manner.
So if you’re a big music lover, and you use iTunes, I’d recommend giving iConcertCal a try.