What resources do you use to find new music to listen to?
August 6, 2017 11:44 AM   Subscribe

I’m in a rut in my music listening. Hit me with your strategies for finding new tunes! Interested in streaming platforms that might help with this, but also any other resources or suggestions.

I'm looking for ways to find new music. Whatever your habits are, I'm interested in hearing them! If there's a streaming platform that you use for this purpose and are satisfied with, I'm super interested in hearing about it. I think the dream is to have unlimited streaming on a platform that suggests new music, based on my taste, that I end up liking. But I'm not convinced that this exists, so also looking for other ideas!

Currently, I use spotify. I’m trying out the free month of premium to see if anything about it is better than the free access. But I have a problem with its suggestions… it feels like there’s some sort of bias in the recommendations it gives and the official playlists. Like if all the playlists were made by the same person, we wouldn’t be friends because I hate their taste in music… :(

Spotify seems to recommend the same sort of content regardless of what I have in my playlist already. For example, I enjoy having playlists with a specific characteristic like instrumental or French language. It doesn’t seem to distinguish instrumental from vocal or French language from English language, and once my additions to the playlist have run through, it adds a bunch of vocal music or English language music that I have no interest in.

I’ve used Pandora, but only as a free user several years ago, so I didn’t have the option of creating playlists. Any comparisons welcome. Also considering Apple music.

I’m also interested in your general strategies for finding new music. Some things I already do include trawling friends’ playlists on spotify and googling specific terms and genres. Haven't been to a record store to ask for recommendations, but I plan to do that soon!

Thanks in advance! I'm excited to hear what the hivemind recommends!!
posted by switcheroo to Media & Arts (43 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm pretty sure that I found this here but I use gnoosic.com. It's not a streaming site. You enter bands that you like and then it makes suggestions. I usually download random songs from the bands it suggests and I've found so much new to me music that I love.
posted by smashface at 12:00 PM on August 6, 2017 [10 favorites]

Apple Music has been pretty good to me - I've found a whole bunch of artists via their "you might also like..." suggestions. But recently, I've also had some fantastic luck finding new stuff via looking into collaborations between artists I like and others. Depending on the genre(s) you are into, this might be more or less difficult, but at the very least, I can say it works well for EDM and prog metal (the latter especially). You may not even know if a favorite artist has done collaborations or projects until you look specifically for it - sometimes they do side projects under different names/"band" names than usual.
posted by aecorwin at 12:01 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've found a lot of stuff on Spotify by searching for playlists by keyword, which it sounds like you're already doing. I wish Spotify could search "playlists with these artists" or some such feature.

Spotify's Discover Weekly playlist has some good stuff but it's gotten same-y recently.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:05 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Pandora doesn't allow you to save music to a playlist, since it's not intended to be a service like Spotify. It's good for finding new music, which you can acquire elsewhere if you want to be able to listen to it whenever you want.

My primary new music sources are:

* Pandora
* Music blogs
* Clicking around after finding something I like on Soundcloud
* YouTube

Other than Pandora, YouTube is the least intensive - if you find a good playlist that includes an artist you like you can listen to that for a while. But I do generally find Pandora and Spotify to be repetitive, with Pandora being a little better (at least for me).
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 12:06 PM on August 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm basically doing the slacker version of what Kutsuwamushi has talked about: I use Pandora to find new bands, (which it excels at even for free users like me), then use Youtube to check out any band that catches my attention. I've found a bunch of new stuff that way.

(I'm lazier about this because my SO routinely goes trawling for new music, so I often just hear about new stuff from her rather than needing to seek it out on my own.)

Oh, I also sometimes want to hear the rest of any song used in a TV show or movie, so I also hit up Tunefind when that happens, and that's also led me to new bands from time to time.
posted by mordax at 12:17 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have found the Google Music algorithm vastly superior to the Amazon and Pandora ones by far for both introducing me to new material and pleasurable generated playlists. They do a pretty good job of tagging instrumentals. There's a number of French language playlists but I don't know if there's automated sorting based on language.

I subscribe to magazines that come with curated samplers each month like Uncut and Mojo, which has led to some wonderful discoveries.

And I pay attention to some bloggers and people I follow on Twitter to see what they recommend.
posted by Candleman at 12:20 PM on August 6, 2017

Useful strategies on Spotify:
- listen to "radio" based on a song or artist you like.
- listen to playlists that contain a song or artist you like.
- Discover Weekly (but this only becomes useful once you've built up some listening history).
- artists also have "similar artists" suggested in their profile
posted by ClarissaWAM at 12:22 PM on August 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

I get really obsessive about finding new music. I use Spotify and YouTube mostly.

I dive through "related artists" on Spotify. I start with someone I know I like, and then I look at every single entry in the related artists list. If there's one or more that I like, I listen to them and then go through their related artists list. And so on and so on. This is how I wound up listening to Italian prog rock, and how my girlfriend found this sweet Korean cover of Whiter Shade of Pale.

I do the same thing with YouTube, looking up a song I like and then clicking through the related videos until I find something that really grabs me (I'll open multiple tabs so I can check it all out). YouTube works better for more obscure stuff, because there's a lot of stuff on there that is long out of print and not available streaming.

I don't generally look at playlists, because even if they include a band I might like, it might not be a song I'd like -- I've gone years thinking I didn't like a band, when in fact they were exactly my thing, and it was really just that one song I heard somewhere that I didn't like. And yeah, the way they're curated isn't always in line with my tastes.

I've also found good stuff on Pandora. And of course, asking people for suggestions always helps, too!
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:24 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Honestly my primary strategy here is to work and hang out with people of different ages/communities/cultures than me, and pay attention to what they're listening to. Sometimes I'll discover something new from something a coworker plays at a party or a friend plays in their car, and immediately add that to Google Music on my phone so I don't forget later. I'll also make sure to play any unfamiliar music link my friends, family, and coworkers post to social media even if it doesn't look like my thing. I have probably doubled my music collection in the past 10 years with this strategy, and definitely discovered a lot more modern music that I like this way (I tend toward classic rock otherwise).

Similarly, I've discovered a few new artists I like through what the driver is playing during Lyft rides.

My other strategy is to follow artists I like on social media, and check out whatever they recommend, since it's likely that if my favorite band likes another band, I might like them, too. This is also why I always show up for the opening act at concerts--the band I'm there to see picked them to tour with for a reason! If I end up not liking it, I can always go hang out at the bar, in the lobby, or outside.
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:26 PM on August 6, 2017 [8 favorites]

I use AllMusic and Pitchfork to see new stuff that's coming out. I also use Spotify's related artists feature. And there's always an interesting article somewhere about trends or top albums, like the Top 150 albums by women that NPR posted (recently), or the recent article on an Elton John album I'd never heard, or a recent article on corporate cultural appropriation. A recent passing by the Turkish music therapy innovator Oruç Güvenç, spawned this article. There are signifiers everywhere, I'm just relentless in scraping ideas from anything I read.
posted by SoundInhabitant at 12:36 PM on August 6, 2017

There are also music nerds like me who are itching for an opportunity to talk your ear off about music! Seriously, giving recommendations is fun because it's a chance to think about our favorite stuff and share all the cool stuff we've found over the years. Making mix tapes (and later, mix CDs) used to be a thing I'd do when I met someone (my girlfriend knew we'd be a great fit when we made each other killer mixes). I can't discount how much great music I've been exposed to because I have friends who wanted me to hear cool stuff. If not IRL friends, friends online...
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:46 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've used last.fm in the past. Basically, it triangulates your listening habits with other users, and returns your lowest listened in the overlap. Found a lot of good stuff there.
posted by lmfsilva at 12:51 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

2 main methods for discovery...

Pick an album I love; Google "album name review"; look at reviews on pages 2, 3, 4 etc. of results, pick out smaller music blogs I've never heard of; read review, if it strikes a chord, bounce around said blog for related taste examples, maybe bookmark it to periodically check back on now and then.

Pick an artist or DJ I love; search for them on discogs ; check out the "appearances" section for mix albums / compilations that feature them; check out some of the artists on those releases.
posted by protorp at 12:54 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't use the official Spotify playlists but I do listen to random people's public playlists and I've found tons of good music that way. Enter a search word, then go to playlists and pick ones that look like they were made by people who aren't english speakers or live overseas or are much younger or older than you (avatars and names) and listen away. This has been golden for me for finding new bands and rediscovering old ones in all genres and particularly for dance music and remixes. I also find Pandora and the official playlists way to same-y.
posted by fshgrl at 1:06 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I try to catch the Onion AV Club's "Undercover" series, which often has bands I'm not familiar with (covering others' songs, natch, but I can sort of see if I like their style). I also listen to NPR's Tiny Desk concerts.

The weakness of these approaches is that I miss a lot of electronic artists, rap/hip hop/R&B, or mainstream pop, but it's also pretty low commitment.
posted by dismas at 1:09 PM on August 6, 2017

I follow some music related Facebook pages, like Heppest of the Hep. I watch non-blockbuster movies and note which songs I like from the soundtrack. I watch YouTube videos and check out the YouTube suggestions. I use Shazam a lot to identify music in non-corporate restaurants and retail stores, and sometimes on tv commercials. And I used to find out about a lot of new music when I had Sirius XM radio. I really miss my satellite radio.
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:21 PM on August 6, 2017

Jamendo is free and has thousands of independent artists in different genres.
posted by maurreen at 1:21 PM on August 6, 2017

Best answer: My main method of music discovery right now is streaming shows on wfmu.org, seriously.

I really prefer this to streaming algorithms, partly because it's someone else's algorithm (the DJ's personal taste) and it doesn't feel like I'm caught in a feedback loop of my own taste. A lot of the stuff I discover is in fact old, though, but it's still out there. I've heard things that become obsessions, but they might be 60s bands I'd never heard of before or Japanese electronica.
posted by maggiemaggie at 1:25 PM on August 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

I listen to WFMU.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 1:30 PM on August 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

I use KCRW, KEXP, Tiny Desk and All Songs Considered along with Spotify Discover and Twitter recommendations from musicians I like. I get a lot of music in particular from DJs Cheryl Waters, Jason Bentley, Robin Hilton and Bob Boilen.
posted by cnc at 1:49 PM on August 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

The BBC sorts music by genre if you use the "filter by" button at the top. Some shows generate playlists which I find helpful.
posted by Botanizer at 2:06 PM on August 6, 2017

Stereogum has two features I periodically check: top 5 new songs this week, and album of the week. Keeps me plugged in to both more well known and more indie stuff.
posted by too bad you're not me at 2:20 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I prefer the radio for discovery because I think it is more interesting to hear "music a person who knows a lot about music is good" rather than "songs similar in some way to what you already listen to." I feel you're more unlikely to unlock new things. Although maybe I have a high tolerance for listening to things I find unpleasant.

I really like Late Junction for playing all kinds of stuff. I suggest you try and listen to it a few times even if you don't like everything that you hear.

For electronic music Benji B, Mumdance, Norwood Soul Patrol and Josey Rebelle.

The whole of NTS' output is worth browsing as well. Particularly Throwing Shade for global music and interesting background on choices. Most random but wonderful show I found on NTS: Afghan folk and Pashto pop from Pirate Modernity
posted by Erberus at 3:01 PM on August 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

When I'm in the car I listen to SiriusXMU and sometimes, but not all that often, find new stuff there. My other main way to find new music is to create a Spotify radio station based on an artist I like, and then start exploring the artists that I find interesting that show up there.

My other other main way of finding new music is to listen to SomaFM, specifically Indie Pop Rocks! and BAGeL Radio. I've found a lot of good stuff that way.
posted by ralan at 3:41 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, and my other other other main way of discovering new music is that when I go to see a live show, I always make sure to see the opening act. I've found a number of artists that I would have never heard of otherwise by making sure I was there for the opener.
posted by ralan at 3:43 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Some of you know that I work for Paste Magazine. Now, Paste does some things well and some things not so well, but every six months a real highlight of working there is getting to see everyone's choices for the best albums of the year and half year. I've discovered TONS of new artists I never would have known about. Highly encourage you to check out here.
posted by michaeldunaway at 4:01 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sound Opinions on WBEZ Chicago is a radio show/podcast by a couple of long-time music critics that are pretty passionate about what music is and what it should do. I don't always agree with their opinions, but their show is a good way to learn about new acts and get some context for them.

Other than that, I've been scoping out the Best New Music playlist Pitchfork has on Spotify and the All Songs Considered playlist as well, although is hasn't been updated in awhile. I've heard people rave about Spotify's Discover Weekly mixes, but I haven't been bowled over by them personally.
posted by Fister Roboto at 4:02 PM on August 6, 2017

Also, nthing KEXP, WFUV, KCRW. Support indie radio dammit! ;-)
posted by michaeldunaway at 4:21 PM on August 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thirding KEXP. John in Morning for me.
posted by synecdoche at 4:32 PM on August 6, 2017

When I'm out and about, I use Shazam to identify songs that catch my attention.
posted by delight at 5:11 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Your local library probably has a CD collection you can check out. (Ours does) It's a great source for older stuff you never got around to listening to. Not so much on the new stuff. But it's free, and the patronage helps them stay alive and funded.
posted by cfraenkel at 9:09 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I follow the This Week's Releases playlist on Spotify; it includes anything reviewed on any of about 20 review sites. It leans towards indie but I've got plenty of pop, hiphop, grime etc from it.

For local (New Zealand) music I'll use the Friday music posts on Public Address, the Under The Radar site, and emails from the Flying Nun label.

And then I hit Metacritic and listen to anything with a rating of above 80% or so.

You could also try playlist.net, where people submit their own Spotify playlists. You can browse, or search by artist or song.
posted by Pink Frost at 11:39 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

seconding SOMA FM. If you can't find something there you like, you're dead.
posted by james33 at 7:20 AM on August 7, 2017

posted by Baphomet's Prime at 7:54 AM on August 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hey switcheroo! My sincere and emphatic recommendation is Rateyourmusic.com's new-and-improved beta site, Sonemic.com, which allows you to browse through the top-rated and -reviewed charts of albums, at least according to the users of the site.

This is where I do the majority of my searching nowadays. It does allow you to clarify and modify the charts by selecting only certain genres of music, or even characteristics + styles of music, which seemed to be one of your big points. I find that if you go a level deeper and start adding in your own music to your 'library' within the site, you can even filter out the things that you already listen to, giving you an even deeper and more novel look at the world of music you haven't explored yet. It's great.

Alternately, I also keep up with anydecentmusic.com, which is more personal-feeling than Metacritic (a similar site), and trawls many more semi-professional music review websites than the other does, as well. I've found some great, recent stuff that way.
posted by a good beginning at 8:14 AM on August 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Plug some groups you like into music-map.com.
posted by dbx at 8:37 AM on August 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'll also recommend NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series. Their guest artists span all genres, and the archive of performances is enormous.
posted by aecorwin at 8:44 AM on August 7, 2017

I just bought a new car and have been experiencing satellite radio for the first time. It's a free trial right now but I would absolutely pay for it.

I'm a Spotify premium user and discover a ton of music through there - some based on personalized suggestions from Spotify, some from going down rabbit holes of clicking on related artists or playlists.

TV and movies are a big source. And if I enter the name of a TV show in the Spotify search and look at the results under Playlists, I often find that some other user has already created a playlist of all songs used in the show (not just official soundtrack songs). IMDB can be a good resource for identifying a song from a particular episode.
posted by treachery, faith, and the great river at 10:20 AM on August 7, 2017

The Boiler Room channel on YouTube is mostly DJ sets of many, many genres, which itself has gotten me listening to a lot of things I haven't heard before, but it also includes an eclectic range of art music performances (I'm currently listening to an evening of Steve Reich compositions by Slagwerk den Haag).

The Metafilter front page has also hooked me up with things I would have never considered listening to.
posted by ardgedee at 6:40 PM on August 7, 2017

I have found music I liked by going to contemporary / modern dance shows and seeing what music they used.
posted by batter_my_heart at 8:26 PM on August 7, 2017

I use Hype Machine - create an account and add music blogs in categories that you like. Then from mobile or desktop you get an uninterrupted stream of all the songs that those blogs are posting. If you hear something good you can "like" the song to make your own favorites playlist, and click through to the blog post to read more about the artist. There's apparently some Spotify integration now for the favorites playlist but I've never got that integration working.

I also listen to a lot of WFMU and KEXP. Usually if I hear something I like I'll add it to my Spotify, which helps train Spotify on giving me better music in my weekly Discover playlists.

Also every year when the "Best Of" polls come out I'll make the effort to listen to everything that's posted.
posted by Gortuk at 7:51 AM on August 8, 2017

One more for WMFU.
Cruise the playlists for shows with tastes that resonate.
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 9:14 PM on August 8, 2017


Is my goto, especially if you load the listentothis subreddit.

It's the perfect radio station for me.
posted by LansLeFleur at 3:26 PM on August 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

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