Last June, our own Marie Look introduced readers to Songkick, an app that lets you “create a personalized concert calendar for you, based on your music and your city, and tracks your favorite artists so you never miss an opportunity to see them perform live.” As a longtime user of Songkick, I can attest that the app lives up to that description and has done a good job of helping me find, and notifying me of, nearby concerts.
Songkick has remained nearly unopposed in this category of app since it’s release last June, that is until this past February when Samuel Vermette released Shows. It’s been said that competition breeds excellence, and “excellence” is one word I’d use to describe this app. Find out what other words I’ll use after the jump.
When you start up Shows for the first time, it will quickly scan your music library and add the corresponding bands and singers to your Artists list. This is a feature that is also touted in Songkick, but Shows does it faster and does not constantly re-scan my library after the initial setup (something Songkick has done far too many times to count).
While the ability to scan your library is great, you may not have all your favorite artists stored on your phone; if you use a streaming service as a substitute for syncing music for your iPhone, you may not have any music on your iPhone at all. Since I belong to the latter category, I took take advantage of Show’s Artist Sources feature, which lets you import artists from Rdio (the developer has stated on Twitter that Spotify integration will be added), Facebook and Last.fm.
If you need to quickly add an artist, you can use the search function by typing the artist’s name into the search field and tap the plus icon next to their entry.
The ability to import a larger number of artists at a single time is great, and sure beats the heck out of adding them individually; however, you’re more than likely going to import artists you know for a fact aren’t going to be touring anything soon (e.g. The Beatles, who will be imported if you have them in your library). Shows grants you the ability to remove artists you’d no longer wish to track, and the method for doing so is incredibly easy and convenient.
If you’re familiar with Songkick, you know that un-tracking artists is a incredibly pain. First, you have to tap on the artist, which takes you to the artist’s page. Second, you have to uncheck a box and return to the main page, which then returns you to the top of your artist list (so if you need to remove multiple artists you’re going to spend a lot of time scrolling).
Show’s takes a much easier approach by letting you select multiple artists at the same time during edit mode, which can be accessed by tapping the edit icon in the top right corner. Once you’ve highlighted your soon to be unfollowed artists, simply tap the done button. If you need to delete a single artist quickly, you can do so by swiping right on their name in the Artists view (more on that soon) and tapping the delete icon.
When you’re highlighting artists, you don’t need to tap the trash can icon. Instead, just tap the artist’s name to avoid hitting the quick jump letters on the right side of the screen.
Once you’ve added and removed all of your favorite artists, your next voyage is to find where your artists are touring. Shows handles this task with two different views — Artists and Dates. The Artists view displays a list of all your artists that are playing nearby (more on what the means in a bit), and the city and date in which the artists will be visiting is displayed under their name.
The Dates view lists out individual gigs by concert date, and also displays venu (missing from the Artists view). Because artists may play a multiple venues nearby, the Dates view will show each individual date, allowing you to gain a broader view of available shows.
If you’ve noticed, I’ve been using the term “nearby” to categorize how concerts are displayed. While this term may seem broad (because it is), I use it because of Show’s method of selecting the area in which you’re willing to travel to see a gig. If you tap the location icon in the top left corner, a slider control will pop-up at the bottom of the screen. When you drag the slider you’ll see different city names appear, giving you an easily recognizable point of distance.
However, say you’re planning a trip to a city and want to check if any of your artists are going to be playing a show while you’re there. You can tap the cog icon next to the currently displayed city and search for a specific city. While it’s great Shows offers this feature (it’s really a “must have” after all), it’s a bit too hidden away for my liking.
If you want to see an artist’s tour schedule you can tap on their name in the Artists view, which will bring up a list of all the artist’s scheduled gigs. If you tap on an individual gig you’ll be transitioned into a new page that allows you to favorite an event (signified by the “OMG Yes” button), which will push the event to the top of the Dates view. From this page you can also share the concert information via Facebook, Twitter, text message and email.
In contrast to Songkick, Shows does a lot of things better. You can add artists by multiple methods, manage your lists of artists easy and not at all tedious, and the overall look and functionality (a heavy use of gestures) just makes Shows more enjoyable to use. However, Songkick does support a feature that Shows is sorely missing, which is the ability to view ticket information.
For all of Show’s excellence, having to exit out of the app and use my browser search for ticket information is not exactly the most convenient experience. Until this ability is added to Shows, there most certainly will be some iPhone owners that won’t give it the time of day, especially when you consider Shows is $2.99 and Songkick comes with the much cheaper price tag (free).