12 Most Splendid Sources for Music Discovery

12 Most Splendid Sources for Music Discovery

The top of the charts can be an enjoyable source of music to enjoy, but sometimes you just want to listen to something new. You want to try a new genre, or find the brilliant indie players in a genre you know and like.

There has never been a better time than now for people who want to wander the amazing, vast landscape of music discovery. However, you’ll need some resources to start you on your way. Here are 12 sources that should keep you engaged for a good, long listen.

1. Streaming sites

There are a fair number of sites already for finding music. More seem to crop up all the time, and some die off (Napster suffered a few blows before joining Rhapsody, for example). The current crop of the most popular sites to stream music includes Pandora, Spotify, Grooveshark, MOG, and Last.fm. There are many more — some of them require a download of their software (Spotify, for example); some have web portals that you can listen to from any browser. Some have mobile apps; more on that below.

2. Music subscription sites

Like streaming sites, but with a different access structure and for a fee. Rhapsody is the biggest of the subscription-only sites. Rdio has a free limited streaming offer, but the majority of its plans are subscriptions for a fee. Several sites, such as Spotify, MOG, and Pandora, offer both free streaming and subscription models.

3. Internet radio stations

This category can get a little blurry. There are sites that belong to broadcast radio stations as their online presence, and there are sites that stream songs “radio style” that you might influence with your preferences but in which you cannot dictate the playlist (see Pandora). “Internet-only” stations such as East Village Radio of New York City fit the bill here. There is no shortage of choices, such as indie WFMU, Pop Garden Radio, or Radio Disney. No matter where you are, you can get online stations somewhere else, even from Canada or Colombia.

4. Regular radio broadcasts

Ah, the airwaves! This was the place most of us did our “music discovery” back when we were young. Big commercial stations aren’t the place you’ll really find what’s new today, but smaller, scrappy and enthusiastic stations often have passionate DJs who will bring what’s best to the forefront. One shining example among many: Seattle’s KEXP.org (both airwave and Internet). For the airwave broadcasts you will, of course, need to be in range. Sometimes you’ll need to find a local station’s place on your dial by poking around online for call numbers; sometimes you’ll just need to check the far ranges of your tuner to bring in a clear and pleasing song.

5. Musician-powered/DIY sites

The artists are the force behind these sites. Bandcamp is one that several indie musicians I know of recommend; apparently the pay structure when you buy music is favorable to the artist there. You can search Bandcamp by artist, track, album, or lyric; or browse by genre or location (find local music!) ReverbNation also has search and browse functions for artists by genre, location, popularity and much more, and offers ReverbRadio to let the new music come to you — plenty of tools for both fans and artists on this site. SoundCloud seems useful because sharing your finds with friends seems particularly easy. More recently, Google+ pages for bands launched (see this article on DIY/CDBaby about G+), as well as Google Music; we’ll need to see where this is going, but the mighty power of Google means it automatically receives more notice at the outset.

6. Bloggers

This takes a little more work than a simple click to one location. You can get started plenty of sites that handle all areas of new music, such as Stereogum and Pitchfork. But, oh, the specialization you’ll find! For power pop alone, I came up with 12 Most Groovy Power Pop Websites! You can search everything from Metal to Bubblegum to suit your fancy.

7. Magazines (both print and online)

‘Zines were, while I was younger, everything from national full-color spreads to scrappy local mimeographed(!) startups. The more it changes, the more it stays the same — just add Internet. You can check out all sorts of music magazines online: Rolling Stone, Blitz, Shindig, Paste, and Filter, to name a few. Do you want to hold onto a real paper copy instead? Either subscribe online or look for something a little less mainstream at your local bookseller or music shop (see number 9).

8. Apps

Most of the sources above have music on their sites, but several also offer apps. Here are two examples of apps from widely divergent sources: First, eMusic, an online music retailer, also has eMusic Radio, offering streaming playlists to their members that are curated by human beings rather than an algorithm. The second example is from good old Rolling Stone Magazine, but with a new twist; their online magazine as mentioned above has rich resources, but the Rolling Stone mobile app partners with Spotify to offer yet another source of music and info. The number of Spotify app partners is growing even as this article is written (including entries from a number of sources previously mentioned). And no less a luminary than Sting tells us that apps are the new CDs, too. The story of apps is evolving, no doubt.

9. Music shops

Remember music shops? The legend of the music shop geek who knows all the new stuff and all the history can often be true! Make use of these people as the oral historians and human “recommendation engines” that they can be for all they’re worth. Find one in your area, and get schooled!

10. Retail reviews

Sites like Amazon and iTunes (and plenty of other, smaller retailers) have a wealth of crowdsourced information on new music. Start at an album you like, read some reviews and start clicking on recommendations or “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” and you’ll be heading toward something new to enjoy. Addendum: YouTube artist channels can be mined in the same way. Start with what you like, and look to the side bar of recommendations until you start scoring some hits.

11. Your social network (virtual version)

Feeling bored with your tunes? Throw out a plea for new sounds in your status update, and you never know what gem you may receive in return.

12. Your social network (real-life version)

You know, people you actually see face to face? In the “olden days,” we used to hang around and talk about the music we’d found. Happily, many people still do! Have your friends over for a pot luck dinner and music discussion if you’re feeling sociable, or just bring up new music at some gathering that was going to happen anyway.

New sources are popping up all the time; some the sources mentioned here are likely cover the innovations. You don’t need to completely cover every new music discovery source; you only need to fish around until you catch some new sounds that you enjoy.

All kinds of music are waiting to be discovered — go out and find something brilliant!

Featured image courtesy of Free Images Live.

Marlene Lipson

http://www.storify.com/downpourblue

Marlene Lipson is a writer and editor in New York City. Her arts and entertainment work often carries the handle Downpourblue, and you can follow her on Twitter @downpourblue or check out her posts on Storify at www.storify.com/downpourblue (and just starting off with Google+).

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29 comments
KrisCarli
KrisCarli

Great link on #music, thanks for sharing:) @terrinakamura @DinaJ @msmorev

bear_nagata
bear_nagata

@terrinakamura Terri, its been awhile, how are you there? hope all is well w/you and yours! Happy #Weekend xoxoxo

dbvickery
dbvickery

I love Pandora (and used Live365 before that for several years). I do go with the paid subscription because it is a small price to pay to avoid the interruptive advertising and have more "skips" available.

 

I've also given in to using SiriusXM. There are stations there to better suit my taste, and again...the interruptive advertising is minimized.

CFWannabe
CFWannabe

@smashfit This is fantastic - thanks for posting! I'm a huge fan of Bandcamp...

Steve Birkett
Steve Birkett

Discoverability is definitely the next big challenge for whoever become the major players in delivering our music. Nice work in bringing together a wide-ranging list of the current options Marlene! NPR does an excellent job of combining numbers 3 and 4, I would add. Their on-air programs always prick up my ears when someone else is tuned in and are complimented well by the wealth and diversity of music on their website. Check out the 'First Listen' section for pre-release album streams, for example. I also find that Daytrotter does a great job of recording very specific sessions for indie rock artists, which provide both introductions to new artists and new spins on some you already know. As much as I ADORE Spotify and the access that it brings, I have a whole post brewing about what they must do to improve the music discovery element of the service. Thanks for the extra impetus to write it!

jenjarratt
jenjarratt

If your tastes in music are more classical you can't do better than BBC 3.

healingmuse
healingmuse

Thanks for the list of Internet players! I've used grooveshark, which is awesome & will try last.fm

The other place I found great new music is soundcloud.com
People create music & upload it, rate it, comment. I also go to YouTube & search for 'top 10' of various styles such as 'indie rock' & found some people make awesome lists.

susansilver
susansilver

As a music person the #1 thing I tell people is to listen to as much as they can. There are so many great free resources out there! You never know when you are going to run into something that you will really love.

terrinakamura
terrinakamura

@bear_nagata It's been a while, but it's always a pleasure to see you, Bear. I like this new avatar! Very nice! Have a gr8 weekend! XO

downpourblue
downpourblue

@Color_Hits I even said in the article that there were so many to be found I'd surely miss some. Hadn't heard of you, but may Pin you now!

downpourblue
downpourblue

@jenjarratt Another good suggestion. I do like some classical once in a while, which I usually get from either Pandora or my local station WQXR; I will add BBC3 to that arsenal.

bear_nagata
bear_nagata

@terrinakamura Terri its great to see you too! thanx for your warmth on me, you're always so cool to me! have a wonderful week XOXOXO #LUV

bear_nagata
bear_nagata

@terrinakamura thanx Terri im always sending my supreme love to you & yours, Terri!

bear_nagata
bear_nagata

@terrinakamura yeah unattainable so cand see any kind of goal... but, i believe that will come.

terrinakamura
terrinakamura

@bear_nagata I know what you mean. It's almost unattainable, but everyone wants to believe

bear_nagata
bear_nagata

@terrinakamura thanx again for your warmth on me, please stand by Terri.

bear_nagata
bear_nagata

@terrinakamura yeah thats unforgettable through my whole life... life is always happier even if the 'happily ever after' be dissolved... ;^)

terrinakamura
terrinakamura

@bear_nagata I just remember a year or so ago, you were going through a difficult time. I hope life is happy now?

bear_nagata
bear_nagata

@terrinakamura yeah all is good but bit slightly cold i got this week... but thats okay thanx and you Terri?

bear_nagata
bear_nagata

@terrinakamura stay on Terri as mutual! *hugs* back to you 'n *bigkiss* #Blessings

terrinakamura
terrinakamura

@bear_nagata The feeling is mutual, Bear. ((((HUGS)))) to you!

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