Discovering New Music
Last month, I discussed the overwhelming nature of music discovery and band presence on the Internet. Facebook’s music API now allows for one-click, immediate access to any band’s music. Pretty cool, right? That said, what if you are looking for new music, but not from any band in particular? Music discovery still remains just as overwhelming. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of websites that guide users through Top 40 Hits, under-the-radar bands gaining traction, the average bedroom-musician’s GarageBand tracks, remixes and more. To the point of my previous article, the resources are overwhelming enough to just make you hit up iTunes for your Top 25 Most Played.
Ahh…home, sweet home…
I’m here to change that for you, oh loyal LTM reader. Your most-played songs are like comfort food: delicious but only good for you in small doses. Expand your horizons. Take advantage of the never-ending array of music available to you. You know, when settlers first moved out West, they were probably overwhelmed too. But then they found California.
Not pictured: Everything between the East Coast and California
So, I want to help you find your California. Your metaphorical gold mine of music. Often, when I’m using the resources I’m about to share with you, I hear a song I’ve never heard before. And sometimes, that song is full of so much groove/hook/melody/etc. that I get upset. Upset that it took me so long to discover that one song . . . or rather, for that one song to discover me. Within a few minutes, however, I am on top of the world, relishing a new found nugget of music that, in most cases, comes from a fairly under-the-radar source.
In my opinion, there’s a two-fold benefit to using these music discovery services. Knowing that a lot of the artists featured are either just starting out or on their way to something great, you catch their songs at a great time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not one to “like the band before they were cool.” The potential world-wide word of mouth that comes with the embedded social networking tools means smaller-scale artists have the ability to reach much larger audiences. With some of the services listed below, just listening to “Popular – Now,” you’ll probably hear songs you dig in genres you hadn’t even thought of before.
Further, users aren’t limited to so many skips an hour, so many hours a month or so many advertisements a song (a la Pandora or Spotify). You’re entirely in control. Don’t like a song? Skip it. I guarantee whatever plays next will be of completely different sound (barring the dub-step variable, more on that later).
- Hypemachine. Hype Machine is awesome. My go-to website anytime I’m yearning to hear something new. The overall format of Hype Machine is similar to a few other sites out there – elbo.ws being the most notable. The name of the game is music blog aggregation. What does that mean? Similar to how Google aggregates websites for accurate results in search strings, Hype Machine combs the Internet for blogs that have posted audio files and makes them all instantly accessible without ever leaving hypem.com. There are two main paths on Hype Machine: Latest and Popular. Within each, you can further tailor the music to your preference by picking a genre you’ve (never) listened to before or telling Hype Machine not to play remixes. There are a lot of remixes out there. Too many for me. But if that sort of thing is your bag, you can tell Hype Machine to aggregate only remixes. Everything on Hype Machine is displayed in an aesthetically pleasing list form. A simple play button streams the music directly to you via the source blog’s server. And if you make an account on Hype Machine, you can easily “love” songs for revisiting at a later time. Some of the artists I’ve found out about thanks to Hype Machine include Penguin Prison, Brothertiger, Crookers, Hoodie Allen and SomethingALaMode. I’ve also found some great remixes of songs from The Roots, The xx, Holy Ghost! and Chromeo, among others.
- thesixtyone. Thesixtyone takes hearing new music and turns it into a game. You get hearts each day by logging in, listening to music and completing quests. Quests include listening to the least played genres on the site, “loving” a certain amount of songs over the course of one weekend and listening to the playlists of other users for a minimum amount of time. Like Hype Machine, you have the ability to “love” a song, but you only get a certain amount of hearts to use. In other words, you better really like the song you’re loving. Complete a quest and you get hearts and XP. Get enough XP, and you level up! Leveling up allows you to “love” a song multiple times in one listening session, thereby contributing to the songs popularity. Thesixtyone’s users are wholly responsible for which songs find success on the website and which ones don’t. It’s a brilliant idea, and it seems not enough people know about it to make the site what it really could be. Named after Bob Dylan’s classic Highway 61 Revisted, thesixtyone lets anybody and everybody upload their music to an interactive, informative interface. As a song plays, the screen fills with promo shots of the band, as factoids breeze by. Often, you can download a song directly to your device; otherwise, there are links to purchase the song. There is an element of social networking to the website, but finding your friends is very difficult, and it seems thesixtyone hasn’t been updated on a UI level in months. Still, new music is always popping up on the site. Artists that I’ve found out about through thesixtyone include Niceness, Oh Land, and SoKo. If you decide to get into thesixtyone, find me! My user name is hoisin. (I’m on Level 6.)