A BASINGSTOKE businessman has launched a new music website aimed at

Dan Benson, from Old Basing, is the owner of computer repair business Basing IT and told the Gazette that the company struggled with reduced custom during the pandemic.

He decided to use the “extra time” to develop a “different kind of social networking site”, called Digmusic.

Dan describes it as "the poor man's Spotify", with well over half a million albums on the site that can be played for free.

The 51-year-old noticed that there were a lot of albums on Youtube and not all of them were posted by people trying to share music illegally.

"Many people post albums they themselves have made and own the rights to on Youtube,” he explained.

“There are also many small record labels publishing albums on Youtube as well as old, obscure and deleted records found in junk shops which would never see the light of day unless somebody took the trouble to post them."

When Dan realised just how many albums there are on Youtube, he wrote a program to "dig" as many out as possible. The script probes Youtube 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for new content which it adds to the Digmusic database. At the time of writing, there are more than 550,000 albums across numerous genres, with one to two thousand being added each day.

Dan, who also developed Basingstoke.co.uk as one of the town’s first social networking sites before selling it, is critical of how the Internet has developed since he built his first website.

“The early days of the world wide web were magical and exciting times. Before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Myspace there were millions of personal homepages made by people using basic html and a liberal sprinkling of animated gif images. You never knew what you would find, nothing was as flash or slick as today's internet, but then neither did it feel as sterile and moribund as it does now.

“Every website you visit today looks the same. They have the same cookie policy warnings, the same adverts, the same menus etc. It’s all so corporate.”

Dan was therefore determined to give Digmusic a “retro” feel.

He continued: “Digmusic is the antithesis of these type of corporate websites. I pride myself on its retro look and ease of signing up. Registration is so easy in fact that there is no registration. You simply log in with a username and password of your choice, even if you have never visited the site before. As long as the username is untaken, you will be logged in instantly with that username and the password you used will be your password. You don’t even have to supply an email address, though you enter it optionally into your settings for the purposes of password resetting or notifications.

“Of course, you don’t have to create an account to enjoy the many thousands of LPs on DIgmusic, but if you do, it allows you to define your own shelves which enable you to organise all the great music you find. You can also view other people’s shelves and copy and move albums between shelves.”

Dan says he is adding new social networking features to the platform regularly, and hopes to see it go from strength to strength. He invites Basingstoke music fans to help him beta test the site and its social networking features before the rest of the world gets involved.

To get involved, visit Digmusic.online