Now out of beta, Livekick.com is a site that gathers a list of your favorite artists and tells you when they will be touring near you. What sets it apart from other similar sites is its connectivity, offering RSS feeds and calendar subscriptions notifying you of upcoming events. The site isn't perfect (and likely thanks to the recent media attention was pretty slow when I used it) but it's fairly new and does have a suggestion tracker where you can add or vote on improvements.
I had already been using a similar site, Songkick.com, for quite a while and always wanted more from it. Songkick offers a better looking site (it gets credit for the nice Sonic Youth photo on the front page) and better photos (pulled from Flickr) but there was no way I was going to add every artist I listen to by hand. They now have a program that will scan all your artists but it's limited to Winamp, Windows Media Player, and iTunes (a pretty big list, I'll admit, but I don't use any of those). Even if you do manage to get your artists imported, there's the problem of getting that information out of the site.
This is where Livekick comes in. It allows you to import your artists from your Last.fm account (this was the big one for me) as well as iTunes, Rhapsody, Pandora, MySpace, iLike, and Blip.fm. There is also a downloadable client for Windows and Mac that will scan your existing music library (supports iTunes, iPod, Winamp, Windows Media Player, and your Windows music folders and most filetypes including MP3, WMA, and AAC). There is also a recommendation/suggestion engine in which the site asks if you like a certain artist and you can say "Yes," "No," or "Skip." When you say "Yes" the artist is added to your favorites. If you say "No" it will add the artist to your "Removed Artists" list. The suggestions are useful but not unproblematic, as you will see later.
Once your artists are imported, the site creates concert listings calendars based on your location (it knew my location before I signed up! IP Address, I assume). The best part of LiveKick is what you can do with these calendars. You can subscribe via RSS, Twitter, e-mail, and a calendar program (either Outlook or iCal). LiveKick has a fully AJAX interface going for it, as well. As much as I hate the term "Web 2.0," I have to say Livekick is really a Web 2.0 experience.
When you actually get to the point you want to go to one of these concerts, clicking on the listing will give you a surprisingly useful page featuring the time, an embedded Google Map of the venue, share links for Facebook, MySpace, and e-mail, a video of the artist playing live (pulled from YouTube), and, most importantly, a dynamically generated listing of available concert tickets. The other features are nice and fuctional (although the embedded map doesn't do anything, not even allow getting direction) but the best feature is the tickets list. It searches Ticketmaster, LiveNation, eBay, TicketsNow, TicketNetwork, and StubHub for tickets. It then displays the section, row, quantity available, price, and a "Get Tickets" button. Whew! That's a lot and it's not as gimmicky as you might expect. The information seemed to be accurate and the links to the outside sites works well. You can even sort by any of the columns (the default is, smartly, by price). This feature was surpisingly useful, finding PJ Harvey tickets on eBay for $45 in a buy-it-now auction, among the usual Ticketmaster and LiveNation results. Granted, this will vary wildly when you use it, but the fact that it did find real, useable, well-priced tickets on its first try is pretty amazing.
Not everything is perfect, though. I have 844 artists in my music library and 500 on Last.fm but only 128 are currently showing up on Livekick. That number seems to be slowly creeping up, though, so we'll have to see if it's still indexing everything. I haven't been able to get the RSS feed into Google Reader yet, either.
Another problem is the recommendations. Some are great, others are seemingly random. My library is filled with alternative, punk, post-punk, and indie and the site seemed to think Burt Bacharach would be a good fit in there (maybe it's trying to add some variety to my library?). Also, I had to tell the site that I don't like Puddle of Mudd about five times before it got it (big Puddle of Mudd fans on the site?). In fact, the amount of generic 90s nu-metal was surprising given that the most similar artist in my library is probably Deftones. It still hasn't removed Death Cab for Cutie even though that was one of the first I said "No" to. This is a place where I think Songkick really beats Livekick. The recommendations there were typically more nuanced and reflected a better understanding of what I listen to. Obviously, Songkick is trying to appeal to the more independent music loving crowd, what with the giant Sonic Youth picture on the front page. Livekick seems geared toward a more general crowd.
The recommendation problems seem to seep into the calendar integration as well. Similar artists are put onto your calendar, which can be really cool except that, as mentioned above, the recommendations are a bit off target. So my calendar currently features Mandy Moore, U2, Stone Temple Pilots, Melissa Etheridge, Daedelus (never even heard of them), Cursive, Death Cab for Cutie (again!), Micheal Cavanaugh (apparently has to do with Broadway and Billy Joel, two things I don't want on my calendar), Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Heart, and Our Lady Peace, among others. The other problem with the calendar integration is that if an artist you like is opening for one you don't like, you only see the artist you don't like. For example, Matisyahu is currently on my calendar. When I open the calendar entry it doesn't mention anyone other than Matisyahu. When I go to the site I learn that the reason it is on the calendar is that Cowboy Junkies are opening. It would be nice if there was an option to have the artist on your list set as the title for the event. Or, at least show the openers when you open the event detail.
The last minor issue I noticed was that on the tickets listing page, the first two results, Ticketmaster and LiveNation, were basically blank. The link the their site seemed to work, though.
Overall, though, Livekick really is an incredibly useful tool and if it keeps improving will be the center for concert information. As is I will keep using it and I hope it eventually, between Last.fm and the Windows client, will import all of the artists in my music library.