Sick of being last to find out that your favourite author, director or musician has released new work? Being a fan doesn't necessarily mean you have to keep track of every single release. Set up your own automated alerts and keep on top of new releases as they happen.
Most artists don't release content frequently enough to warrant then staying on your radar all year round. Even if you think of yourself as a media hound — always digging through reviews, news and blogs — it's easy to lose track of a new release every now and then. I often find people saying to me "You didn't realise so and so had a new book? It's been out for months!" So I decided to give up on my own discovery skills and get notifications for a few of my favourites.
Get Release Dates for Your Favourite Authors
Authors are particularly tough to keep track of because years will often pass between new novels. However, it's quite easy to keep track of authors. One option is to use Google Alerts. Here's how to set it up:
- Head over to Google Alerts and type this into the search box: inauthor: "author name" (or you can do intitle: "subject" if you want alerts for, say, books about the US Civil War)
- Select "Books" from the Result type drop-down menu
- Select the interval for how often you want Google to check for your search under How Often
- Select "Only the best results" under How many
- Select the email address you want the alert to be delivered to.
If DIY isn't your thing, a number of web apps exist that will send you an email when an author releases a new book. We like Track New Book because it's simple to set up, and it doesn't send you any junk.
Get Updates When Your Favourite Musician Releases a New Album or Tour Dates
Musicians and bands are constantly releasing new albums, remixes and singles year round. If you have a few standby favourites you want to keep on top of without digging into music blogs or magazines, it's easy to do.
For notifications via email or Google Reader, we like Album Reminder. All you have to do is enter in the artists you want to get updates about, and Album Reminders will notify you when an album is released. The handy thing about Album Reminders is the fact you can also create an RSS feed for notifications so your email inbox doesn't get cluttered. The result is a feed that displays the album, release date and artwork if it's available. No extraneous info — just a simple update.
For live shows, Songkick is a service that will alert you when tickets go on sale in your city for bands you care about. Songkick also integrates with Spotify and automatically scans your library to display shows you might be interested in.
Get Releases for Your Favourite Directors, Actors and TV Shows
We've shown you how to use IFTTT before, and it's pretty simple to set up an alert for your favourite director or actor. In this case, we'll use the Release Date RSS feeds from Movieweb (either theatre, DVD or TV). Here's what you need to do:
- Create a new recipe in IFTTT and select the RSS button.
- Click the "New feed item matches" box.
- Enter the actor or director you want to follow in the "keyword or phrase box", and paste the feed URL from Movieweb.
- Select how you want to be notified.
- Create and save recipe.
Your final result will look something like this recipe that adds any Nicolas Cage movies into your Google Reader. Simple as that.
If you're an iPhone user, we like Flickd for a simple tracking method that keeps an eye on actors, directors and movies.
How to Keep Track of All This Info
Announcements are handy, but what are you supposed to do next? If you plan on buying something, it's easy enough to preorder online for just about anything. If preorders aren't an option, you can use Amazon's 1st to Know Notification Service to get an email when you can buy a book, album or movie.
If you're not sure you really want to buy it straight off the bat on release day, you can also integrate those releases into your calendar. Personally, I keep a separate calendar filter dedicated just to different media junk (movie releases, books and the like), so I remember to check back in and look at reviews.