Amidst a panic attack caused by the fact I am running out of interesting topics for this blog I came to the shocking realization that I never talked about finding new music. This is one fundamental subject leading to expanding horizons and musical competence and neglecting it further would be unholy.
For quite some time I have been finding different means of supplying myself with a constant stream of new artists and bands to follow. So for this post, I want to share some of my favourite (and most reliable) ways of discovering new tunes and encourage you to share your methods – maybe we can inspire each other and enrich our playlists, who knows.
The ways of discovering new music have greatly evolved in the past few years. When I was a teenager the most reliable way of finding new artists or songs was by friends’ recommendations or MTV/radio (back when it was not complete trash).
Nowadays, finding new music is not much of a challenge – exactly the opposite. New music is everywhere and it keeps attacking at all fronts – social media, music streaming platforms, direct messages, live promotions, etc. And I love that.
There can never really be “too much” music to check out. The oversaturation in the scene can become mentally overwhelming for the sole reason that you don’t know where to start and which way to look sometimes but I think the upsides are way more.
Friends’ suggestions remain as my most trusted source of new music. Example of a recent discovery I am in love with.
During the years I started understanding the importance of keeping an open mind and trying things which are out of my comfort zone. This applies to all possible fields, including the music I listen to.
Once I forced myself to give things I usually don’t like or haven’t dared try yet a chance I discovered how much incredible art I have been sleeping on. Being tied to one genre or a certain group of artists had been limiting my outlook and music competence for a very long time.
I firmly believe that listening to all kinds of “genres” (I really don’t like this word) and styles is beneficial in many ways. It broadens horizons and leads to unexpected discoveries. I never thought FKA Twigs or ASAP Rocky (or Tommy Cash, for God’s sake) would be artists whose music I would enjoy but now they are some of the acts I highly respect and often come back to.
Not to mention EDM or metalcore type of music – another thing I had been discarding without giving a chance to just to find out there are many artists who make the styles irresistibly attractive.
I have never been an EDM guy but this genre has a charm hard to resist at times
You never know what might appeal to you and condemning something just because of bias or prejudice is insanely stupid. I learned this the hard way (and it applies to all areas of life).
The oversaturation of the music scene and the constant flow of new artists is an extreme blessing but it can be tricky given the limited time you can dedicate to discovering new acts. I have identified the best ways I personally find music over the years, those have led to discovering bands and artists I now passionately follow and I also enjoy the process regardless of the final result. So here is what I’ve got:
You can read my post about the importance of live music here
Live shows are not only my favourite medium of music but also my preferred way of finding new artists/bands to follow.
Supporting acts at headline shows are terribly underrated but I consider them essential for the success of any concert. Setting the mood right before the main act and hyping up the audience is a gruelling task especially considering that the crowd you are performing for is not there to see you but someone else you are delaying the appearance of.
My brightest example is with PVIRS – a band which is now on the top of my must-hear list. Those people are truly outstanding in terms of attitude and approach in their music. I discovered them in 2015 during a Bring Me The Horizon headline show and back then I didn’t even know they exist.
This band has gone a long way since I first met them and I am incredibly excited for the next time I will be seeing them live no matter how long it takes!
After their quick 5-song set, I was completely enchanted and I followed their development closely. Their presence and incredible dynamics – Lynn’s voice combined with Alex and Brian’s irreplaceable contribution to the whole intimate atmosphere won me over forever. Two years later I was lucky enough to meet the band and have a quick chat before standing on the front row and crying my eyes out while holding Lynn’s hand at one of my favourite songs at their world tour.
The list can go on and on – The Regrettes during a Twenty One Pilots show, Vukovi thanks to PVRIS (it’s a cycle, I can’t wait to see who Vukovi will introduce me to), Saint PHNX thanks to YUNGBLUD – and I insist on clarifying Saint PHNX completely turned the tables around by playing in front of the most frustrated and anxious crowd I have seen and making them fall in love in the span of two songs.
Very much addictive
Support acts are an indispensable part of a live show and a crucial element for an unforgettable night. Also, a trustworthy source of new music – I personally prefer not to check the support before going to a live show just to enjoy the element of surprise and not spoil the moment of discovery.
A similar method to the one above is finding new music by artist features. Collaborations are something I really enjoy when it comes to music and I have a personal list of the ones I would donate my organs to see.
Features greatly contribute to the open-mindedness I talked about before. Both for listeners and artists themselves. The phenomenon usually pushes the involved acts out of their comfort zones and urges them to try out different approaches and ways of work which often lead to unexpectedly good results. Need I mention the iconic merge of hard rock and hip-hop we all are well familiar with – something that would have seemed blasphemous some years ago is now a proven music miracle.
I have numerous examples for discovering new bands thanks to them being featured by an artist I follow. Or the other way around – While She Sleeps – a band I highly look up to and had a blast seeing live is an example of an act I found out thanks to a collaboration. They were the ones featuring Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes’ in their phenomenally smashing single Silence Speaks. I found out about it thanks to Oli’s Instagram and when I heard the song I went on an investigative listening spree and came out as a die-hard While She Sleeps fan.
Warning: Iconic screams incoming
Grandson is one of the artists I keep a very close eye on and highly respect for his innovative methods of spreading his message and great conceptual build-ups. If it wasn’t for Mike Shinoda and his track Running From My Shadow it would have taken me way more time to get on board but I’m glad this duo collaborate and I firmly believe they should do it more often.
The majority of the good music I have discovered during the years has been thanks to my friends’ recommendations. One of the most secure ways of getting your hands on fresh new tunes is by suggestions from people who know you well and are aware of what you will most likely enjoy.
I consider myself extremely lucky for having such a great collective of people I can call friends. They are also extremely rich in terms of music taste and it is often those particular people who introduce me to artists that become some of my favourites.
Thanks to my lovely friends I got introduced to bands and artists like Lauv, Raleigh Ritchie, Brockhampton, Anderson .Paak, Mac Miller, Alt-J, ASAP Rocky, The Wombats, Dub FX, and many, many more – all astonishing artists whose music I truly enjoy and constantly replay.
I really don’t want to imagine how limited my understanding of music would have been if it wasn’t for my friends.
I have had controversial opinions about this one for the longest time. It all depends on the next algorithm change but I am pleased to say currently I am very satisfied with YouTube and Spotify’s suggestions.
An algorithm built well can be a great source of new music. As long as it properly analyses the things you listen to most and replay regularly it can’t be that hard to suggest similar artists or songs you can lose yourself into.
I have had some terrible experiences with YouTube and it took me the longest time to start trusting Spotify’s weekly discover but thanks to them (and taking the brave step of leaving my playlist in their hands) I managed to get introduced to artists like Palaye Royale, Merkules, Still Corners, and Two Feet who have turned into honourable guests to my music library.
Following music media has brought me a lot of new music and worthwhile experiences. I browse the likes of Alternative Press, Rocksound, and Kerrang! on a daily basis mostly for stories related to bands I already follow. However, by reading thoroughly and thanks to the capable collective of editors making finding out what to expect from a certain band easier I managed to find a great deal of new bands to get into.
Examples include Hey Violet, Parkway Drive, Motionless In White, as well as Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes – bands that were incidentally in issues I purchased for a headline story related to a band I follow. By taking the time to read a few interviews, album reviews, or short columns in the said issues I was convinced giving a chance to those artists will be worth it. And here I am today, once again a loyal follower.
The magic about magazines is that you are able to peek inside the mind of the artist before you have even heard the music. This makes everything way more clear and comprehensible and it also allows you to be more personal with the artist, in a way, at least. It’s just more intimate when you hear them talk about their art and then dive into listening to the record they have poured all of their passion into.
The same goes for blogs – since I started writing about music I have been paying more and more attention to independent or music media related bloggers and everything I said above applies to them as well. Sometimes it is even better – a non-professional blog run by a fellow music enthusiast often offers a way more interesting insight straying away from the formulas followed by professionals and lets you understand different artists in a better way.
Rononsreviews, for example, is a blog I recently discovered and I can recommend for some great writing and quality suggestions on the heavy side of music.
Social media is a double-edged sword for musicians – it is the easiest way to reach people you know will love your music but at the same time, it is so incredibly oversaturated that capturing (and keeping) the attention of potential listeners is almost impossible.
We are constantly bombarded with individually targeted ads and for a person already following a lot of bands/artists, it is real chaos. I personally get at least 5-6 sponsored ads by new bands trying to make it in the scene every day.
This in itself is a great source of new music and most of the times I really like what I hear. But a more secure method I have been a “victim” of is getting personal messages from the bands themselves.
This was the case with DND7 – I got a message from their drummer who politely asked me to check their stuff out since he saw I am following bands that have a similar sound to their music. I ended up loving their stuff (and interviewing the band – check it out).
The examples are a lot again – The Veer Union – a neometal/hard-rock formation I discovered after they messaged me on Twitter. Holy Moly and The Crackers – a band I am currently obsessed with I found thanks to an Instagram ad.
As long as you keep your eyes and ears open and you remain positive about “modern marketing” the music will find you and you don’t even have to look for it.
I cannot allow myself to skip this very important and interesting way of finding good music. It was quite alien to me until a few months ago but I have started discovering more and more great tracks thanks to movie/series soundtracks.
I see the art of matching a song (or composing one) for specific movie scenes where a certain story needs to be further emphasized truly fascinating. It is a science of its own and the effect of combining the art of cinema with the art of music is a next-level experience.
I have discussed the topic before so I won’t go into details – my point is movies and series can be a wonderful source of new music. I have The End Of The F*ckin World and Atypical to thanks for a large number of my playlist additions those past few days.
The soundtrack of The Mall is one incredible experience telling a story of its own as well.
Thanks to Atypical
That has been quite the rant but I think this topic had to be properly covered. Finding new music is something incredible and all those methods have their unique charm in my eyes. I would love to hear what you resort to when you feel your playlist has been too repetitive lately.
I’m sure there are many other ways of discovering your next music obsession and I am always open to suggestions.
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