How Do You Discover New Music?

How do you discover new music?

I love that there isn’t a perfect system for discovering new bands and artists. Instead, there are a plethora of systems that people can use depending on their tastes and preferences. You have the classic word of mouth in addition to iTunes Genius, Pandora, and YouTube, as well as the more recent Spotify.

But you also have these little niche websites that are absolutely fantastic. I’m sure I’m missing some, and I’d love for you to add to this list in the comments. Hopefully one of these will mesh well with your style.

  1. mySpoonful: This is my favorite of the bunch. If you like indie rock, go to this site right now and subscribe to their subscription list. Every day you’ll get exactly one e-mail with a link to a new song that’s free to play and free to download if you like it. I love the daily deal aspect because you don’t have to remember to go to the site every day, and it’s only one song, so you can listen to it while you brush your teeth in the morning. One and done. These are bands you’d otherwise never hear of, but many of them are excellent.
  2. thesixtyone: This is a beautifully designed website that can keep you transfixed for hours (or just for a few songs). Basically, you go to the site and it picks a song for you to listen to. You can listen to it in the background or you can watch the screen as little tidbits about the artist or band pop up around the screen. If you like the song, you can buy it from the site.
  3. 8tracks: Remember back in the days of CDs and cassette tapes when you could make a mix tape and share it with a friend? 8tracks brings that concept to the cloud, and you don’t even have to own the music to share it. You create the mix tapes right there on the site and then share it with friends and the general public. Or you can just listen to “tapes” that have already been created on the site. (Do you remember your first mix tape? Mine was made by my first high-school girlfriend and only contained two songs, but I listened to it over and over: “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits and “All I Want Is You” by U2.)
  4. This is by-invite-only so far, but I love the concept. I’d say that it’s Twitter for music. When you go to the site, you join a “room” of random people listening to music, and you take turns selecting a song for everyone to listen to. There are many other ways to recommend songs to people, but I think the key is that it’s live–everyone is listening to the same music at the same time, so it’s a shared experience (like watching a movie in a theater). Full disclosure: I haven’t tried this site yet, but I love the concept and have heard that it’s all the rage in Silicon Valley.

15 thoughts on “How Do You Discover New Music?”

  1. My problem is I already can’t afford to buy all the music I like. So I tend to not use these types of websites much, basically sticking w/ bands people tell me about, info from Rolling Stone or the Riverfront Times, and seeing bands play on late night TV.

    However, I have heard a lot of good, new stuff on, which often includes entire albums streaming (for a limited time), concerts, and videos. (Also, considering there were only two cuts, that’s a really kick-ass mix tape your GF dubbed.)

    • I had forgotten about late-night TV. Do many people watch that? It is cool to see a band “live” on those shows.

      I’d definitely still recommend mySpoonful. Like I said, the songs are free.

  2. First and foremost from watching television- Grey’s Anatomy fuels the large majority of my new song/artist finds. And Scrubs even though it’s not really on anymore.

    A great website that you can download entire albums from rising artists for free (and legally) is It’s where I discovered Darren Flowers and Ben Rector, both amazing artists. A Matt Nathanson/Mat Kearney feel to them- perfect for situations where I want to listen to the whole album (road trips, long projects, etc)

    • Nice, thanks for the recommendation. I had forgotten about commercials and TV shows–I hold my Kazaam app up to the TV to figure out what those songs are.

      I’ll have to check out noisetrade.

  3. One of the students today heard a CD I put together for work and recommended these other sites to discover music:

  4. OK, so here are my secrets.
    1) go see live music. go see lots of live music. check out (fb is a great source) what other people are listening to, or what shows they are going to see.

    2) find out who the influences are of the bands you like. find out who’s influenced by them. i wish there were a “web of knowledge” for music!

    3) youtube is a wealth of knowledge. the stream of suggested similar videos sometimes leads to great things! sometimes i click randomly and am amazed at what i find. i like grooveshark, too, but more for just finding the stuff i’ve seen or heard referenced. i prefer RADIO. yes, i said it, RADIO! iTUNES radio stations are a lifeline for me here in europe. right now, Peter Gabriel is singing me In Your Eyes and I couldn’t be happier.

    4) talk to people. what do they listen to? especially when in coffee shops or stores or places like that. i’m always asking “what is it you’re playing?”. this should probably be the first suggestion, but it’s sometimes more fun to find it on your own. 😉

    • oh, and that used to be a good site, though i rarely get my music through review sites like these.

      5) see who’s playing at festivals like sxsw or cmj. i used to go to macrock often, which was local. and awesome. i do miss those days!

    • I knew you’d have a great answer to this question. I like your idea for the “web of music”, and YouTube is a great recommendation. Somehow the visual aspect of it really helps create that “web” of artists.


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