How do I find new music I like?
August 20, 2021 6:13 PM   Subscribe

I am in my mid 30s and coming to terms with being An Old, but it would still be nice to find new artists to listen to. Is there a way to do this that will find me stuff I like that's more curated than streaming services?

I last paid attention to new music in a regular way about a decade ago and I was a fan of indie, folk, and Americana type stuff from the aughts (think The Shins, Stars, Regina Spektor, Andrew Bird, Punch Brothers, The Decemberists). I am glad that a lot of these artists are still recording and touring but how do I expand my horizons? Music podcasts were a thing; are they still? Are there radio stations I should be streaming? Or do I just stream music and wait to find stuff I like that I haven't heard yet? Happy for any and all recommendations.
posted by goingonit to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (43 answers total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
I would like all the songs from the artists that you listed on Youtube and let the algorithm do it's thing. That's how I have been finding all my favorites. Youtube also recommends old songs that I would have never heard of.
posted by saturdaymornings at 6:20 PM on August 20, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: KCRW in Los Angeles. Their music programming is excellent.
posted by spacewrench at 6:22 PM on August 20, 2021 [11 favorites]

Before life turned into an endless stream of Zoom meetings, I liked listening to KEXP's Morning Show with John Richards. Based on what you've said you like, I think you'd enjoy his show, too.
posted by synecdoche at 6:30 PM on August 20, 2021 [4 favorites]

community radio stations can be great. another option: 3RRR in Melbourne. here's 13 years of album of the week
posted by are-coral-made at 6:30 PM on August 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

I’ve found a ton of great stuff from Bandcamp Weekly.
posted by hijinx at 6:30 PM on August 20, 2021 [7 favorites]

Publications can be a great way to expand your horizons--I read music reviews and add things that sound interesting to my Apple music library (and then buy them if I really like them, because artists make almost nothing from streaming). It sounds like you might like a lot of artists featured in No Depression, for instance--and if you go to that link, you'll see that they are streaming their picks for the best music of the month.

Finding indie labels you like and listening to their compilations/streaming playlists can also be a great gateway to discovering new music.
posted by carrienation at 6:32 PM on August 20, 2021

Best answer: CBC Music is great for this, especially Mornings and Drive. There’s enough familiar indie stuff to smooth the introduction to new stuff from other genres.
posted by armeowda at 6:32 PM on August 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

Spotify really works amazingly well for this. (You can try it for free if you don't mind some ads.) Play stuff you already like and then every week listen to your customized Discover Weekly playlist. I regularly find new things I like that way. They also have a lot of genre-based playlists, mixes based on a particular artist you like, etc.

I also sometimes listen to streaming radio. The three stations I have bookmarked are KEXP, The Current from Minnesota Public Radio, and WPGU. It was one of those that introduced me to Rainbow Kitten Surprise, which Spotify's algorithms were apparently unable to identify as something I would really like.
posted by Redstart at 6:33 PM on August 20, 2021 [11 favorites]

Streaming services have worked very well for me! For a while I was listening to SiriusXM’s Indie channel and found a lot of great stuff. Then I moved to Pandora and found even more, especially when I customized a station with my favorites from the Sirius indie channel. Then I moved to Apple Music, and every week I get a New Music playlist that averages 4 intriguing tracks/artists I haven’t heard of, plus new stuff from artists I do know. My favorite new artists and singles in the last few years have been served up to me by the Apple Music algorithm, with friends’ recommendations running a somewhat distant second.

It’s far from perfect—the Apple algorithm fixates on certain songs and plays them for me all the time, and can’t distinguish between different bands with the same names. (I’ve been served tracks by Frank Black, Rasputina, and the Residents, that were not at all by the Frank Black, Rasputina, and Residents that I love.) but I am finding new music I enjoy as fast as I can absorb it.

(Incidentally, Apple Music does have artist-curated radio channels that I don’t listen to because they’re not the style of music that I like.)
posted by ejs at 6:55 PM on August 20, 2021

Seconding KCRW and CBC.
posted by ashbury at 6:57 PM on August 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Gorilla vs. Bear, they run a great blog and make excellent, genre-spanning mixes (the monthly ones are easiest for me to keep up with) that are also on Spotify.
posted by stellaluna at 7:19 PM on August 20, 2021

When I'm out and about and I hear a song playing in a restaurant or store that sounds good to me I Shazam it and then text the artist/title to myself.

Have I ever revisited these links? No I have not.
posted by bendy at 7:23 PM on August 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

The playlists on the streaming services are curated and they're going to give you a far broader range of artists than some nonsense terrestrial radio station (no matter how good it is). Pandora (even the free version) is great for finding new music. Just type in an artist you like and it starts playing stuff it thinks you might like. I've found TONS of music I like on Pandora. I use Apple music now and they also have fantastic playlists from which I've found tons of fantastic music. Also, check out Bandcamp. They have sections devoted to different types of music and they feature new releases every week.
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:31 PM on August 20, 2021

I subscribe to two newsletters that talk about artists I wouldn't hear about otherwise.

One is all about New Music/Contemporary Classical and it's called Night after Night. He does a (sort of) weekly roundup of new releases, usually with Bandcamp links.

The other newsletter I find useful is from Spellbinding Music--self described as "a blog which curates contemporary, modern classical, roots, electronic, jazz and folk music…and everything in between" with a focus on smaller labels.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 7:45 PM on August 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

NPR's All Songs Considered fills this role for me. It's been particularly useful for introducing me to genres/artists that I wouldn't otherwise think to seek out (or even have known existed, tbh).
posted by experiencing a significant gravitas shortfall at 7:57 PM on August 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

+1 on John Richard (KEXP) and Spotify. I also check out Tiny Desk Concerts on YouTube. WMBR's Breakfast of Champions too!
posted by jdl at 7:59 PM on August 20, 2021

Fellow Old Millennial here, also have been a fan of some indie/folk/Americana/other music.

Streaming services can do the recommendations very well. I personally use Spotify. It does a good job of making recommendations based on what I've listened to and liked, which tends to be all over the place.

For streaming radio stations, I was going to recommend Minnesota Public Radio's The Current and see that it has already been recommended! I've regularly heard artists on there that were new to me that I ended up liking quite a bit. With your musical taste, I think you might like it too. (I am not from Minnesota, I just like it.) They play an interesting mix of new stuff and older stuff.
posted by wondermouse at 8:03 PM on August 20, 2021

College radio stations are great for finding new stuff - you can stream them via wi-fi but they don't make any recommendations for you or stuff like that. Two that I like: KBOO in Seattle and WVFS in Tallahassee. I tend to favor the latter because I live there and so I can pick it up on the radio in the car, too.

You can stream in your browser, or you can use MyTuner on your phone, or if you're older school, you can stream in something like WinAmp.
posted by TimHare at 8:18 PM on August 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

When I'm being lazy or just listening for a bit then I'll let the algorithms do their thing. Otherwise I'll listen to episodes of the Strombo Show.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:21 PM on August 20, 2021

Very strong +1 on the Spotify and YouTube suggestions already given here: this is what I do as An Old.

Don’t just use your Discovery Weekly stuff on Spotify (but do definitely use those lists!), also see what user-made playlists your favorite artists are coming up on and try some of those. It’s like getting recs from someone whose taste is similar to yours.
posted by verbminx at 8:46 PM on August 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Until last autumn, Maine Public Radio used to produce an hour-long show 4 nights a week that featured music similar to (or consisting of) what you like: In Tune with Sara Willis. Unfortunately, due to financial pressure at the radio network, she took early retirement in October 2020. Her past shows are still available online to stream, though. So if you start listening now, you’re not going to hear anything new. But maybe newish.

Memories of listening to the music Sara had picked out, from the small transistor radio in our friends’ Maine beachfront cottage at night, over the sound of the waves, is literally one of my happiest thoughts.
posted by hhc5 at 9:01 PM on August 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Listen to some shows on, a low power local Portland station. I personally think the shows are more thematically cohesive than KCRW (which I also adore and suggest). I've been exposed to some really cool genres of music through xray, and loads of world music that I wouldn't normally think to seek out.

All of saturday and most of sundays are phenomenal. There's a great reggae hour, chicano soul, tons of good psychedelic and world music (which has bad connotations, but, not on xray). There's a show that's just these amazing deep dives into music from the 40's and 50's. Radio Bandelero is one of my favorite DJ's on there, and they turned me on to Zambian rock from the 70's, which was an absolutely delicious rabbit hole to explore. There is always something on Xray that I both enjoy and would never have run across before, nor probably would.

I have a separate youtube account set up specifically to listen to music on. I only listen to known quantities on that account, and quarantine it off from my regular account. I don't listen to anything with too much repetition, because then the algorithm feeds you only that one song, or one artist and doesn't branch out; if something goes into regular rotation it gets purchased or listened to on the 'regular' youtube account. There really are some great channels out there of folks putting up full albums of out of print, impossible to find stuff (that doesn't readily show up on streaming services writ large either).
posted by furnace.heart at 10:08 PM on August 20, 2021 [4 favorites]

Algorithms are great *but* don’t go to any guilty pleasures or allow any other person to use your account, unless you want those choices feeding into it. I don’t know a way to come back from the pollution of one’s algorithm. (I found *great* new bands until I allowed this to happen)
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:18 PM on August 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

I need my music algorithm-free;

I find a lot of things trundling round tweeter punching in county names and hash tags I think'll find interesting sounds in London and North and South UK. I'm originally from South UK and still like things noisy .. and new.

Doing that I'm finding a lot of great, antiracist (loving how these have taken back the anger from the racist parts of Oi!) and simply noisy music; Shame on KEXP (which is awesome for hearing new things), Sleaford angry political eloquent hiphop/punk, Devlin drill/grime, Burial Lambeth!, Benefits and find interesting things off their twitters and links.

I hear a lot of new things via Radio NZ's music101 and the sampler, they can be quite out there, they do a lot of live, mid-afternoon, totally uncensored like Sleaford Mods, Tiki Taane
posted by unearthed at 11:14 PM on August 20, 2021

Best answer: Third CBC. Why not give SOMA.FM a try?
posted by james33 at 5:57 AM on August 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I know it's an algo but I often find good new stuff in the Spotify Weekly playlist that they make. I save what I like and skip the rest.

For other radio stations not yet mentioned
WFMU has 4 different streams and a really wide and sometimes funky variety of shows. (schedule)
KPISS a fun station with some sass

One thing I've found is it isn't just an entire radio station that I find I love, but a particular show. When I stumble on a show I love, then i bookmark it and check in every few weeks. For example., here's a KCRW show by Liza Richardson. She is a music supervisor for film/television shows and has excellent taste which all comes out in her radio program.
posted by Jungo at 6:50 AM on August 21, 2021

Best answer: FIP from France.

(FIP has been playing an expertly curated, eclectic range of music - jazz, rock, classical, electronic etc since the 70s. You will hear French music but also artists from all over the world - with an emphasis on lesser known musicians. No commercials and they talk little - maybe 5 minutes per hour for news and local events. Best time to listen is between about 6am and 6pm CET).
posted by rongorongo at 8:01 AM on August 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

This is the most "fellow geriatric millenial" suggestion, but yeah, I just listen to tiny desk concerts.
posted by athirstforsalt at 9:07 AM on August 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

We definitely have some taste overlap -- I often browse r/indieheads and listen to the New Alternative Top 40 playlist that's updated weekly (both in Apple Music and Spotify playlist form). Some things miss but a lot of things hit.
posted by thebots at 11:30 AM on August 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

KUTX is on in our house almost all day. It is the UT Austin college station. They play a nice mix of rock/indie/Americana/some hip-hop, from new artists but also older "college rock" stuff from the 80s forward. They push new music/new artists into their mix and seem to rotate them every few weeks. You will definitely hear the old Alt-Country/Americana type stuff (Wilco, Andrew Bird, Old 97s, etc.) but also, like, Leon Bridges and Anderson Paak. I also appreciate that it is pretty consistent in its playlist/vibe all day long, which is unlike many college stations that swerve from one genre to the other every few hours.
posted by Mid at 2:15 PM on August 21, 2021

Join a music piracy site, such as Orpheus or Redacted, and you can sup at a firehose of most of the world's released music, tagged by genre. You don't have to torrent anything, you can browse tags you like for promising-looking artists and look them up on YT/bandcamp/streaming-service-of-your-choice.

6music from the UK. FM4 from Austria.
posted by BobInce at 2:32 PM on August 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

4ZZZ in Brisbane, I've found so much great new stuff through them in the past 12 months.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:50 PM on August 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm a lover of old and world music, and I often time-travel via radiooooo. You can choose your countries and decades and mood and let the curated shuffle rip.
posted by ikahime at 10:19 AM on August 23, 2021

My boredom threshold for music extends to "I don't want to listen to anything I've heard in the last 6 weeks."

In Spotify: add a bunch of songs you know that you like. Go to 'Liked Songs' and shuffle play. When it plays a song that you're really into at that moment, "Go to song radio". Add more songs that you like as you hear them.

Next, for songs that you like, click the band name. Scroll down for "Fans also like". Play each of those. Dig it? Add it.

If you have a favorite time-boxed genre, don't assume it's dead. It's not! And there's dozens of bands making new songs and they're posting them on Spotify or Bandcamp or Soundcloud.

70s psychedelic rock? Try Jess And the Ancient Ones.
80s synth wave? Tons of new stuff. Search for retrowave, synthwave, 19A0s, r/outrun.
90s postmodern? Try Boy Harsher.
New Doo-wop? Yep. Modern Soul? Definitely.

Finally, mix nationalities with genres. "Russian Gangster Rap", "Irish Punk", "Pakistani Prog Metal".

Good luck!
posted by Unxmaal at 12:31 PM on August 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

For all kinds of rootsy stuff, a lot of it by musicians outside the US and UK, I recommend the two free monthly podcast shows below:

Podwireless. "The monthly podcast from the world of folk, roots and unpop." Hosted by Ian Anderson (not that one), editor of the late lamented fRoots magazine. The mag's slogan was "Local music from out there", and that philosophy guides the podcast's selections too.

Andy Kershaw Plays Some Bloody Great Records. Long-standing BBC radio DJ returns to music broadcasting. Session guests so far have included Half Man Half Biscuit and Martin Simpson. Kershaw's always good company as a DJ and has introduced me to so much great African stuff.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:43 AM on August 24, 2021

2nding the youtube, NTS, and Bandcamp Weekly, Daily, lists, and features, suggestions, as those are all great sources of musical discovery.

Some other suggestions, which might require a little more work, though not much more, is to visit the websites for the labels that released/release the music you dig, as well as check out the other music they release by going to their youtube/spotify/bandcamp/etc pages.

Additionally, a lot of record stores have "channels" on youtube/spotify/bandcamp. You might dig what the Vinyl Factory posts? One of the channels I often return to is the Mississippi Records youtube mixes.

Also, whenever it's safe, and if you can afford it, support the artists/labels/record stores by going to their shows, buying records and merch, and donating wherever possible. This pandemic has hit the music world pretty hard.
posted by nikoniko at 12:45 AM on August 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

John Kelly on Mystery Train, RTE Lyric FM Sun to Thurs 1900 -2100. Great music, little chat, a bit Jazz-heavy but i like that. You might also.
posted by Wrick at 9:42 AM on August 24, 2021

Seconding All Songs Considered, I'd also recommend BBC Radio 6 Music. I've also found some good stuff through music or band-related Facebook groups I'm a member of.
posted by Panthalassa at 2:22 AM on August 25, 2021

Best answer: I came here to recommend FIP from Radio France but I'll settle for seconding rongorongo :) I only recently discovered it and absolutely love just about everything I hear them play. When I'm in the mood for something more offbeat-to-me or maybe of a world/classical/avant-garde bent, I check out New Sounds on WNYC.

Thanks for asking this question, I have heaps of recommendations now for other sources of new music thanks to all of these awesome answers.
posted by jacquilinala at 10:26 PM on August 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, this is all fantastic! Here's what I've enjoyed most so far:
  • Drive from CBC (I can only stream live since I'm south of the border but at least I get my choice of 4 timezones)
  • KCRW's best new records of 2021 so far (their Eclectic 24 stream is...too eclectic for me)
  • BAGeL Radio and Folk Forward
  • FIP's Rock and Monde stations

posted by goingonit at 7:26 AM on August 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Radio Paradise
posted by Calibandage at 7:54 PM on August 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

It's interesting in that it's run like an old-school radio station with time-blocked DJ shows rather than constant streaming of channels.
posted by rhizome at 8:51 PM on August 27, 2021

Spend some time with Double J (Aussie radio station for those of us who've aged out of the 'youth' station JJJ).
posted by d-no at 4:56 AM on September 22, 2021

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