You’d think that in this era of streaming, the problem of music discovery would be solved. I mean, artificial-intelligence and algorithms should have made child’s play out of providing something that perfectly fits your tastes, right? Well, to appease the major labels, the algorithms have to factor in music being promoted and pushed hard by those majors. So there’s a guarantee that you’ll be suggested something that does not perfectly cater to your taste. That’s a reality. There’s a chance that a majority of what you’re suggested is not something you’ll enjoy. That’s also a reality. Marketing campaigns play a huge role in what ends up being suggested to you.
What about human created playlists?
The problem with playlists is that they suffer the same problem that suggested music does. The more people create playlists on a platform, the more that those playlists have to go through an algorithm to get to you. The same algorithms that are designed to factor in major label music that may not actually cater to your tastes. In addition, there’s also an unregulated industry around monetizing playlists that makes individual playlist creators give in to “pay for play”. Pay them and they’ll include your music. The more money you have to throw at them, the more chance that yours is included. Who has the most money to throw at this kind of marketing campaign? The major labels, of course. Look… not all music that the major labels release is inherently bad. It’s just that the majors usually promote a very limited spectrum of genres. As such, the chance that you’ll get anything truly interesting from them is limited by the lack of quantity and sonic diversity.
So how can you discover new music?
The reality is that the best way to discover something great and new to you is by doing it the way that it’s always been done. Listening to a lot of music from a variety of sources. One platform or app alone will not provide you with an easy and consistent stream of what you’ll love. There’s simply no dependable way to be spoon-fed the new stuff that you’ll love. You simply need to do some digging. The effort to do so will not only yield something incredible, it’ll create stronger bonds with that music and memories associated with the discovery of it.
Discover by keeping your ear to the ground
Talk music with friends. Keeping your musical tastes to yourself are fine and all, but once you start talking about it with friends, you’re bound to discover shared bonds and they can recommend to you great artists and sounds to listen to and learn more about.
Pay attention to music in your environment, whether it’s played in a store, on a show, in a movie, on radio. If you dig it, do some research online to determine the song.
Blogs… yes… blogs can also help with discovery
Blogs can be a decent way to discover. Find a few active blogs that regularly post about genres that you enjoy listening to. Beware, though… there are a number of blogs that seem to only post about music from the majors, which indicates that they’re likely getting paid to post, so your luck finding something interesting from them will likely be limited. Also be wary of blogs that have absolutely no quality control and post whatever artists/labels who pay them ask to be posted. Those are usually easy to spot because they have very little in the way of descriptive content about the music.
Make heavy use of search engines with clever use of keywords to seek out and discover music similar to particular artists that you love. This can be a time consuming endeavor, but it can be worthwhile because it can help you discover new artists, labels and blogs.
Independent music labels
Find out what music labels released releases you love and check out other artists from those labels. In addition to labels that release sounds you already love, find new labels as part of your online searches. When you search for artists you love, you’ll invariably discover labels that release similar musical styles. Dig and explore their websites and artists. Many independent labels will allow you to sample their catalog in some way. Many netlabels will even let you download their releases for free!
Ultimately many of the methods we recommend seem pretty old-school, but they’re methods that work. They take effort on your part, but they result in discovering music that you’ll end up having a life-long relationship to. The more you spend time digging, the more likely you’ll discover and buy albums and songs made by artists who truly need your support. Digging for new music makes for a healthier music industry and stronger bonds to tunes you love.
Finally… may we recommend?
So while you’re here learning about various ways of discovering new music, we’d love to recommend to you our own talented roster of artists and the over 500 releases we at blocSonic have released since 2007. We’re an eclectic netlabel / record label that releases only the best Hip-Hop, Pop, Indie, Rock, Electronic, Downtempo, Trip-Hop & Singer-Songwriter. We invite you to discover some new favorites.