Discovering New Music

Are you a self-proclaimed music snob?

Are you a musician?

Are you always listening to music?

Do you enjoy discovering new music?

If you answer “yes” to some of these questions, or similar questions, where do you go to find new music? This is the main question that I’d like to explore.

Here are some effective ways in which you can discover new music…

Random acts of listening pleasure

Word of Mouth

Word of mouth and personal references are the best methods for discovering new music, according to most music snobs. Having music savvy friends, visiting your local record store, engaging in conversation, participating in online music communities, and just paying attention are great methods to stay up to date with new music.

There are no links provided here. Your personal existence and experiences are your own.

Listen to the Radio

Music is still being broadcast the old fashioned way for free (with commercial interruptions) on the AM-FM-XM radio. They tend to have a rigid playlist that has not been updated for weeks or even years. This fixed selection of music is not an efficient way to discover new songs.

If you do happen to discover something new, and you like it enough to hear it again… a smart phone with Shazam (or equal) may be required to identify what you’re listening to.

Broadcast radio can actually cause burn out – even for the most devout music fans. For example, if you listen to a classic rock station, Rush does have other songs besides Tom Sawyer, and ZZ Top does have other songs besides La Grange. However, mainstream radio doesn’t seem to understand this point. They also tend to take advertising way more seriously than music listening enjoyment.

Here in Oklahoma, we are fortunate have The Spy fm to listen to after NPR programming is finished at 7pm every night. This radio station gives us access to old and new, interesting and bizarre, local and foreign, and content otherwise determined undesirable the by corporate advertising based big media radio companies.

NPR and NPR Music offer a variety of segments and programs that offer reviews and awareness of new music. NPR programming can be found broadcast over the air, as well as online formats.

Listen to the Stream

On the other hand, online streaming of music is available in various formats, for various devices, might be free to a point, and may collect money for the “service” to allow certain options or to avoid commercial interruptions. Music selections are not rigid, and may actually take your desires into account.

streaming-03Streaming music can come in various forms such as cable tv and similar “provider based” radio stations. However, there is also the wild, wild land of digital media and dynamic content called the internet.

Many of these online destinations will provide suggestions and similar artists for your critical ear. I assume most references and playlists are assembled from other listener’s habits. They’re typically not intentionally curated and selected by an actual DJ, but rather brought to you by bots using a logarithmic analogy of typical users’ listening trends. Some channels are curated by actual human beings, and they make a big deal about it so you’ll be sure to notice.

Most online music listening services have a “like” button or “heart” indicator that allows you to “save” a song you like for future reference, bot generated suggestions and playlist generation.

I’m not going to explore each and every one of the online streaming options in great depth at this time because there are existing articles and lists available for your own research. The links that follow should get you started.

The main forms of online streaming services are considered to be internet radio, on-demand and podcasts.

Online radio streaming

Online radio stations such as Pandora, Shoutcast, Slacker Radio, AccuRadio, Soma fm, Last fm, Sky fm, Live365, iHeart…

Online on-demand streaming

On-demand music sites will cost you about $10 per month to utilize their services. Vendors such as Spotify and Apple Music (not the Beatles record label) can help you devour an artist’s catalog (once you’ve discovered them).

Then there are some free services, such as YouTube, bandcamp and soundcloud, that allow you to listen to almost anything on demand. Then you can let it autoplay on and on in much the same way as old fashioned radio… perhaps with commercial interruptions.

Podcasts are free

Podcasts won’t necessarily have to be streamed. Most podcasts can be downloaded on wifi, then listened to on the go. Music podcasts tend to be like a mix tape, compilation or playlist. It’s a curated form of radio (not on-demand) perhaps crafted around a theme or organized purpose. There may be some podcasts behind a pay-wall, but most tend to be freely available.

Music Festivals and participate

GO see a live band! Leave your digital devices in rest mode while you experience music in real life. Support your local musicians.

Music festivals are a great way to be exposed to a plethora of new bands, music and artists. At a festival, no mater how much research you do beforehand, you never know what special listening pleasure you might stumble upon.

Festivals may require a great amount of effort to travel to the location and perhaps pay an outrageous entrance fee. For example, SXSW is $149 per day for an wristband, or $900 to participate in the full music conference (plus travel and lodging). On the other hand, Norman Music Festival is $0, free. Shop around for live music and music festivals near you:

Music Blogs

Music blogs are an approximation of what Word of Mouth can do for you… if you don’t have access to cool record stores, a local music scene or music savvy friends.

Some of the bigger music blogs also offer podcast compilations, XM radio shows, music news and media content. Music blogs tend to focus on a genre, geographic local, or other differentiating factor. It may take a little exploration to find what’s best for you.

One suggestion is to search and explore a band you enjoy. There’s a good chance you’ll find a blog that mentions the band you seek. Then explore that blog to discover other bands being mentioned that might interest you. Other bands on the same blog tend to be related in some aspect if the articles have been written by the same author.

The record label’s website of your favorite band may provide a catalog of bands that are similar to your favorite. Discovering music news and other acts that fit your taste can be easier than you think. Although, not all bands have a record label, and not all record labels have a blog or a helpful website.

It’s hard to provide a definitive where to go and links… due to the plethora of blogs out there. I plan to do an in depth article in the future on this topic, but here’s a jumping off point:



About scottm 31 Articles
Scott Mellgren is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, architect and musician. His interests are as varied as this website.