Ask Abbytron: How Can I Discover New Music?

Dear Abbytron,
Requesting an article on tools to discover sweet new music. Pandora? Spotify? What do you use and what do you like about them? Can you make recommendations for certain demographics or particular music interests? Which new tools have you excited? And which have been your trusty go-to music services?
— T.

Hi T.,
I’m glad you asked, because I’m constantly hoping that people will take my advice when this subject arises.

Discovering new music is as easy as simply paying attention. It’s always out there, so as long as you’re looking, you’ll find it. The simplest advice I can give you is be open to suggestions. If you have a friend on Facebook who posts a link and writes, “This band is so awesome!” or “I love this song!” do yourself a favor and click the link. You may not always like it, but sometimes you might. Take a step further, if you do like it, and look up the artist on iTunes or Amazon or Google and buy an album. You’re off to a great start!

Pandora is tedious and I still have yet to discover how Spotify is anything more than a clone of my iTunes library. I know plenty of people will have positive things to say about these programs, but for my purposes, neither one has much value. There are four reliable methods I regularly use to discover new music:

  • BANDCAMP: I cannot stress enough what a phenomenal tool Bandcamp is, and if you’re one of the surprisingly many people who still haven’t heard of it, let me explain. This is a place where independent musicians go to stream/sell their music. There are a few reasons why this is great: a) You can listen to full albums before you buy them; b) A huge majority of money earned on each sale goes directly to the artist; c) It’s the best place to find stuff that you’d almost have no chance of hearing of otherwise. Oftentimes, music is offered for free or pay-what-you-want, so it’s also pretty awesome for deadbeats who think they shouldn’t have to pay for music. Each Tuesday at hearingade, we publish our Bandcamp Pick of the Week, where we highlight a Bandcamp album available for free download, but don’t be afraid to buy some albums there too. I’ve struck gold in the past with such artists as The Woodlands, The Coasts and Golden Bloom. The site allows you to browse by genre, so you can find exactly the type of music you’re looking for.

  • TUESDAYS: For years, I’ve looked forward to Tuesdays each week because they are New Movie & Music Day. If you have a holiday to celebrate each week, it makes life feel, like, a gazillion times more awesome. Every New Movie & Music Day, I go onto Amazon and scour that week’s new album releases for things that look interesting. Sometimes this is a new album by an artist I love, or sometimes it’s just a new album that has a title or a cover that stands out to me. I’ll listen to some samples to see if the music’s any good, and sometimes end up with some fancy new tunes in my library. You can also do this on iTunes. I’ve found some of my very favorite bands this way, including The Morning Benders and the now-defunct Paper and Sand.
  • TWITTER: A lot of people don’t get Twitter. They don’t know why or how to use it, so they just don’t. I was that way once, many years ago. I joined Twitter for work, and was really opposed to the idea, until a handsome gent named Archie Powell followed me. I followed the link on his profile to his music page at MySpace, loved his music, and the rest is history. It was then that I understood why Twitter was actually one of the best Internet tools of all time. By following many different music resources on Twitter, I have a constantly updating feed of news, reviews, recommendations, etc., to show me everything I need to hear. You can customize your feed to show you what you’ll like. Add publications such as Prefix Magazine, NPR’s All Songs Considered, Alternative Press or whatever site writes about the kind of music you listen to (Spinner posts links to new album streams every week for free!). You can even get real local with it by adding sites that publish region-specific music news.

I hope this helps answer your question, T.! If anyone else wants to ask me about music, just submit this feedback form, and I’ll post a response in a future Ask Abbytron article.

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