How are you discovering new music?

Maybe you’ve read the article David Byrne wrote for the Guardian about how the Internet will suck all creative content out of the world. I’m not sure I agree with him. I think creativity can be really enhanced by the Internet. I think creativity will take new forms because of the Internet. The old model of the music industry obviously no longer applies. But there are artists like Macklemore and The Weeknd using the Internet to reach audiences. I think in general, the Internet has made audiences much smaller–there’s so much content out there now. But is that a good or a bad thing?

David Byrne is down on Spotify, and I don’t blame him. But I use it to listen to music these days, for one reason–it makes it really easy to find new bands. Not only does it recommend bands to me based on what I’ve already listened to, but I can follow my friends and even music artists to see what they’ve been listening to. You can share playlists with people. There’s probably more it can do that I haven’t figured out yet.

My two favorite discoveries via Spotify:

Rival Schools

Joe Pug

How are you discovering new music?


14 thoughts on “How are you discovering new music?

  1. Spotify’s pretty good, but even there the selection is limited. If I do find something new, it’s generally from a friend who similar tastes who recommends something. In fact, a music review website created by someone with almost identical tastes to mine introduced me to several of my favorite bands–“oh, he likes Rush, Savatage, old Genesis, Queensryche, etc.–I bet this other stuff he likes is good too.” Pandora makes for a great way to listen to at least some of this recommended music.

    What’s so awesome about today’s music world is that the big music businesses don’t have the power they once had. I’ve spoken with a musician who’s now part of My Fair Fiend (a Utah band) who told me that it’s entirely possible to make a living–albeit a small one–by creating your music and selling it online. It’s a wonderful opportunity for musicians to make part or all of a living, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for fans to be able to listen to more than just radio fare.

  2. It’s Pandora for me. 5 or 6 years ago I was in a big music rut and figured I’d give it a shot. I probably quadrupled my iTunes library within just a few months. I have a Band of Horses station that I’ve been honing for a good 4 years through all the thumbs-ups and thumbs-downs.

    I will say that I’ve sort of found myself in a rut again and could use some more help but I have a tendency to be picky when it comes to music.

  3. Tim, I’ve only ever run into one band I couldn’t find on Spotify, and if I remember right, it was Tool. Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell what I’m listening to from my own library though.

    Tim J what genres are you into?

    Ben S, yeah me too!

  4. Yeah, so turns out I like some pretty obscure stuff. Eternity X’s “The Edge,” for example, is highly regarded in some circles (I think most Queensryche fans would be huge fans if they knew of its existence), but the band doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, and certainly doesn’t get play time on Spotify. I haven’t listed to Spotify for a year or two, but there was quite a lot of stuff, including some not entirely obscure European metal bands and various progressive rock bands, that wasn’t showing up there. (I’m talking about bands popular enough to do a good Europe tour–but not popular enough to do an actual, more-than-one-or-two-shows tour in the U.S.)

  5. Oh I see. I haven’t tried Spotify for metal at all. Well except for Mammifer, which I recommend, btw. Ex-Isis.

  6. I use spotify pretty exclusively. Although the selection isn’t perfect, and can be a little hit and miss (e.g., they have the first Crash of Rhinos album, which I absolutely love, and is fairly obscure, but not the second), I’d say it is very, very good.

    The metal selection is very good, at least for my tastes. E.g., they have the entire Converge catalog, including various singles, along with lots of other interesting deathwish stuff. Plenty from Profound Lore. All around, most of the metal that I’m really interested in, they’ve got it.

    I’ve found that, overall, it’s an absolutely amazing way to discovery new stuff. I can get playlists from friends, I can build pandora-esq radio stations, and I often use the spotify curated playlists when I’m feeling uninspired. All around, I’m listening to way more great music in my 30s than I ever expected.

  7. I mostly listen to music on Spotify at work these days. Huge selection. They just added GNR’s library so I’ve been listening to that a lot (it’s been a while and I forgot how good they were).

    I use the Pitchfork app in Spotify a lot. Basically you can listen to new albums while you read reviews. That’s where I found my favorite album of the year so far, “Dreamhouse” by Deafheaven.

    I subscribe to SiriusXM and mostly listen to XMU (indie) and Liquid Metal (ok but I only like maybe 10% of what they play). XMU has a program called Blog Radio for 2 hours every weekday morning a different blogger will host a show and play pretty much whatever they want. Two of them are really good. Brooklyn Vegan on Wednesdays and Aquqrium Drunkard on Fridays. Both have good blogs as well and are worth checking out. BV has good metal coverage in addition to indie stuff and AD is more about finding old gems and other odds and ends, like stuff from 60’s and 70’s garage rock, African rock, funk, soul, some indie rock, just great stuff, a lot of which you’d have a hard time coming across elsewhere.

    My other great source for finding music is Susan M. She’s turned me on to more good stuff than anyone else over the past several years.

  8. I’m a big Spotify user too. When trying to find something specific and new, I’m in luck about 85 to 90% of the time. I also spend a fair amount of time on Soundcloud.

    As for what to look for, I have the most luck simply looking up the bands that are coming to town each week at my favorite venues. If they’re touring, they usually have new music out, and if they’re playing at one of my favorite spots (small hole-in-the-wall places, like The Earl, or the Drunken Unicorn, or the Masquerade), there’s at least a decent chance it’s something I’ll like. I use Songkick on my phone religiously to see what’s in town. I also check out the regular suspects (like Pitchfork) on a fairly regular basis. The Guardian, for example, has a page called “New Band of the Day” that’s pretty good. And NPR’s music page is really damn good.

    I also find a ton of stuff on Facebook. I set up a separate page that has nothing but music stuff on it — local musicians, local venues, music blogs, music columnists, live music die hards, etc. I get tons of new leads from that too.

    And Susan, back to your opening point, I just don’t follow Byrne here at all. I have never seen good music exploding like it is now. Maybe, for someone like Byrne, it’s never been an issue finding the best new stuff. But for the rest of us mere mortals, things like Spotify open windows and doors to new worlds that we would never have found otherwise.

  9. When I go to the library I browse the newly arrived CD section and always try to pull at least one CD of a band I am not familiar with. Sometimes that works out (recently Paramore) and sometimes not at all (most infamously Godsmack).

    Sometimes I see a video on the internet (recently Con Bro Chill).

    And then my five kids will sometimes surprise me (my now 20 year old got me hooked on Rilo Kiley a few years ago)

    Otherwise I here things on the Scott Mills podcast and other TV shows.

  10. I find that Pandora has a tendency to get stuck in a rut after a few weeks. If you keep creating new stations, it seems okay, but as you continue to listen to the same station, you tend to hear the same music (typically, music from the same genre and the same two or three year period).

    I like Slacker Radio for their selection, and I still like the idea of having new music curated for me. I’ve found a lot of new music that way. I also like SiriusXM for similar reasons (though I only have it via Dish Network on my TV).

    Trading music with friends is always a good method. I also like to browse Amazon and see what they think I’ll like, and what they recommend. Sometimes Amazon’s recommendations are way off, sometimes spot on. Sampler (usually free or cheap) albums from record labels you like are also a great way to discover new bands.

  11. The new iTunes radio has been vastly better for me to discover new music than either Spotify or Pandora. You have three settings of how “far” it looks for music. You can keep real close to what you specify as the ground of the station (typically popular music). But if you set it to find more obscure stuff you find some really amazing music – often with a vibe very much like the original.

    I miss not being able to do playlists like Spotify but the selection is so much better…

    I have to confess I sometimes search bit torrent for “best of” lists as well.

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