Ways to find new music, direct from the minds of the music-obsessed
Jun 18, 2019 · 5:14 PMTyler Hayes
This audio was generated using Microsoft’s artificial intelligence.
Khalid’s low-key anthem for teens’ use of modern technology, “Location,” probably wasn’t on many people’s radar until sometime in late 2017. A few short years later in 2019, Khalid is a household name to anyone who even remotely dabbles in popular music—or keeps their ears open while in public spaces.
There's a smaller sub-set of people, however, who had played “Location” to death before Thanksgiving 2016 was over and were looking for the next fix to fill their music obsession.
While the coveted A&R position inside a record label, trying to sign and secure music rights to the next big act may have faded from its former glory, there remain people who treat new melodies like another breath—never content to live off the same breath for too long.
Places people find new music
It's easy to get stuck in a rut, listening to the same playlists or albums, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Sometimes what it takes to break out and find some new tunes is hearing how the people obsessed with music discover it themselves.
Dallas Osborn is the host of several radio shows on the San Francisco rock station ALT 105.3 FM and on Sunday nights he brings the Bay Area new local artists.
“I find new music through a few ways now such as music blogs I trust—I check back weekly with several of them. These are blogs like iHeartMoosiq, Indietronica, and Hilly Dilly, where I find songs I love every time I check them,” says Osborn. “The other main way for me to discover music is Spotify playlists; especially New Music Friday, Discover Weekly, and several others from curators I trust.”
Jonathan Menjiver, a senior producer at Pineapple Media and previously of This American Life and NPR's Fresh Air, says some of his music discovery places include Pitchfork and Said the Gramophone.
"I’ve crowed a bunch about the Deerhunter Sunday Night Radio Hour playlists that Bradford Cox posts on Spotify; I’ve taken his recommendations and let the Spotify algorithm suggest new stuff," Menjiver says. "And I still listen to the radio! WFMU comes in loud and clear at my house in New Jersey. Michael Shelley and Faye Kahn are my favorite DJs. Plus, there’s my 9 year old. She’s mostly keeping up on new pop music."
David Porter is president at Feature.fm and the founder of 8tracks.com, a site that enlists music fans to build playlists around moods and activities—8 songs long.
Some of the places he cites for finding new music include the obvious: 8tracks, but he also uses Spotify’s Discover Weekly and Release Radar automated playlists.
“I’ll typically pick from one of [8Tracks] recommendation sets, or I'll search/browse by tag (e.g. minimal + chill, or [artist name]),” says Porter. “For the Discovery Weekly and Release Radar playlists on Spotify, I just tune in. When I hear a song I like I favorite it and add it to a playlist (usually both).”
Passive or active discovery?
Finding new music and adding new artists to a streaming library will take a little more work than relying on casual discovery—hearing ambient music at a restaurant or only when you’re in public spaces.
“I think the vast majority of music discovery is passive, lean-back discovery,” Porter explains. “There's prob a 3-5% share of listeners who do active discovery which is also why heavily lean-forward discovery tools/apps/sites typically don't get much adoption.”
It’s true, music discovery is becoming easier from automated playlists and curated stations, but people still need to take the step to sign up and use Spotify or Apple Music and feed the services the types of music they have liked in the past.
Dallas Osborn has a few recommendations for people looking to expand their listening habits and break free from the same albums on repeat.
“Is there a YouTube channel you trust? Check out their new uploads on a weekly basis. Listen to Spotify’s New Music Friday and try the Discover Weekly, Release Radar playlists that are catered to you.
"Also, is there a radio station you like? See if they have a show dedicated to new music or a time slot for playing new songs. I host a new music show on Sunday nights and its purpose is to help people discover new music that they’ll love. Most alternative stations have a show dedicated to music discovery.”
For one more recommendation on how to find music, try the website Musicbutler.io. Unlike other sites which feature new artists you may or may not like, this site tracks all the artists already in your music library and lets you know when they release new songs or albums.
The hard part of listening to a lot of music is keeping track of it all. Musicbutler does a great job of letting old favorites not get lost in the shuffle.
Tyler Hayes is an independent creator and not a representative of Bing or Microsoft.