How do you find out about good music?

    by Mark Glaser
    May 8, 2006

    It used to be that we relied on commercial radio to hear new music by artists we like. But with stale formats and ever-more advertisements, FM radio is losing its allure. Now we can subscribe to and download podcasts or listen to millions of Internet radio stations or pay for satellite radio. Amazon and other online stores suggest artists based on what we’ve bought in the past. There are music blogs and music-swapping sites to help us even more. So how do you find out about good music? From friends? From particular websites? From commercial radio playlists? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and I’ll feature the best ones in next week’s Your Take Roundup.

    • Lets see, first off the word ‘good” is SO subjective. Of late there is the PMN, or Podsafe Music Network, a network where artists seeking to avoid the “major label” routine and/or unsigned artists have been gathering. It’s a pretty deep and diverse collection, growing by the second. As for “good” music, as far as I’m concerned it’s up to the listener. I’ve found my share of “rougher” cuts or underproduced cuts but also a plethora of amazingly well produced tracks that are very enjoyable and a wonder why I havn’t heard them on major radio. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    • Its all about podcasting. I’m an attorney and I drive well over four hours a day. I am absolutely sick of commercial radio and what has happened to the music industry. About a year ago, I learned about podcasts, and my musical world has been reborn. I now only listen to and purchase “podsafe artists.”

      I highly recommend The Podsafe Music Network which is Adam Curry’s clearinghouse for artists and podcasters to find each other. In terms of podcasts, I recommend Accident Hash where CC Chapman plays the best mix of podsafe music on the web. Shows can be downloaded directly through I-tunes or an ‘aggregator’, most of which are very simple to use. I can listen to what I want, when I want, as much as I want.

      There is such a vibe in the podcast community. It is unlike anything I’ve been a part of before, and if you aren’t checking into it, you’re missing out.

    • Ken

      Probably the most misleading word in use today is Podcasting. Just the name makes the casual observer think an iPod is required. Quite the opposite is true. I listen to music related Podcasts exclusively on my personal computer.

      All the music I listen to these days comes from independent artists (indies). I discovered this by listening to the many Podcasts (like JTS above). It is an entire and endless world of artists that are every bit as goodand in many cases betterthan those represented by major labels. The indie artists seem to enjoy making music for the art and not the revenue. They have the freedom to explore their art without the obligations of and to the man (and all that implies!).

      Today, with the proliferation of indie artist Podcasts and web sites, there is no longer a need to tune into mainstream media. Of course, the masses still follow the normal routes to experience music. But, the determinedthose that want to dig around a little morehave more options than ever before. I suspect the Podcast (featuring indie artists) will one day have the same impact on the mainstream media that the development of FM had post-WWII.

      Note that FM radio was patented in 1933 and the first US FCC license was issued in 1937. Thus, we probably have a few years to go!

    • I have not listened to the radio in almost two years so all the music I discover is either through personal reccomendations or from podcasts.

      I of course have a personal bias towards the Podsafe Music Network, but it is where I find new music every week for my own podcasts. The amount of independent music that was going unheard on the scale that it is now that podcasting has come along is staggering. Every day I find another artist that makes me just stop and wonder what is wrong with the current state of radio and record companies.

    • Let me break my answer down into two parts– how I currently find out about new music and how I’d LIKE to find out about new music.

      Currently, I hear great music on a local “Adult Alternative” station; 92.9 WEHM in Long Island New York. I write down the stuff I like and buy it on iTunes.

      (Also, when my wife’s car is being serviced, I enjoy listening to XM on the “loaner”. I think the fact that satellite receivers display song title and artist is the “killer app”of this new medium!)

      The way I’d LIKE to find out about new music would be on podcasts that aren’t limited to “podsafe” music. Why can’t the music industry figure out a way to license copyrighted music to podcasters???

    • I have a (mostly) music weblog that posts ten free and legal downloads each day, so i am constantly looking for new music. Luckily, artists, labels, and PR firms send me music, but I only post what I personally enjoy.

      Friends and readers often send mix CD’s or suggestions, but lately I have found the mp3 blog aggregators (especially the Hype Machine) to be an invaluable way to hear a variety of artists in a short time. Pandora.com offers personal radio streams that feature music similar to an individual artist or song. I have discovered several artiststhrough Pandora’s free service.

    • I draw from some tried and true old-fashioned means mixed with some “newer” options.

      I listen to terrestrial college radio in my car (or online at work). I tend to favor WZBC here in Boston. They post their playlists on Spinitron so if I hear something I like while driving in, I can note the time and look it up when I get to work (song, artist, CD, label). I can then search for any other info or reviews or blog entries about that artist (if it’s someone I haven’t heard of).

      I also read music sites like Pitchfork and Brainwashed and subscribe to the weekly newsletter from the NYC music shop, Other Music. Each review in their newsletter is accompanied by a couple of audio samples — so that’s a nice combo of editorial commentary and ear candy.

    • I seem to find most of my new music these days through NPR or friend’s recommendations. I’ve played with sites like Pandora — but never seem to take action on anything from there.

      The majority of the CDs I’ve bought in the past five years were because I heard them on NPR.

    • I live in a town with 4 excellent college radio stations, one of them devoted only to jazz. They all stream online and I listen at work. I also subscribe to the Aquarius Music listserv out of San Francisco who post a monthly what’s new list. I find their recommendations a lot more in tune with my tastes than those of Pitchfork.

      Beyond that at least one independent record store here and two clubs are providing podcasts or “yuck” myspace accounts where they update on new music. Free instores in music stores I can see on my lunch break. I’m also a beta tester of an interesting new music service called Mog http://www.mog.com which folks should check out.

    • David

      Lots of options are out there for the dedicated follower, and here are three. 1) KEXP, my local indie station, consistently plays great content across numerous genres, with positive attitude and smart DJs, especially John, Kevin, Cheryl & Don. They stream, podcast, archive most shows and live performances as well as weeks of past playlists, all at KEXP.org. 2) CBC Radio 3 has flat out the best music podcast going, with the passionate Grant Lawrence talking up all kinds of great Canadian indie music. 3) Take the SXSW attitude and go to any live show that piques your interest. Pay the cover, buy the CD, buy a beer, and the band will make out well enough to keep making great music.

    • I still listen to radio, but now over the Internet. Thus, I can listen to other countries music and new artists. I use mainly iTunes for online radios, but there are a bunch of other services available.

      I also subscribe to some podcasts and RSS feeds, like Rolling Stones and NYT, and read some friends (and friends of friends) blogs to read about new artists. If I find it interesting, I download some songs from a p2p network and in case I like it, I buy the CDs (old school, I still love to keep the original CDs instead of buying mp3s).

      Finally, I use a lot http://www.music-map.com to find new artists somewhat related to the ones I already know.

    • I read international magazines and newspapers such as the french LesInrocks and Rolling Stone, and go around googling all that seems interesting. Finding bloggers that have a similiar taste in music is a good option. The beta tool on ITunes Store is quite useful and shows things that you might like. Mostly, I do a lot of shopping around ITunes, their “Indie Spotlights” usually have interesting things.

      • My older brother.
      • My friends.
      • My co-workers.
      • Emusic.com.
      • Pandora.com.
      • Last.FM.
      • XM Radio.
      • NPR (rare occasions).
      • Salon.com.
      • Pitchforkmedia.com.
    • Finding out about new music is almost always a 3-step process for me these days:

      1. Read about it online, usually on a blog or all-music review site

      2. Try it out by downloading the first 2-3 tracks from a file-sharing site like Soulseek

      3. Buying it online if I really love it, or potentially taking some of those downloaded tracks and making a custom CD-R compilation to listen to in the car

      I almost never buy anything completely sound-unheard anymore, because I dont need to everything is available for tryout somewhere, whether its a 30-second clip on Amazon.com or an entire file obtained legally or illegally. Im finding that even LP (vinyl)-only independent releases pop up on file-sharing sites days after theyre released, as its quite easy to create a CD from an LP in about an hour, with only 10-15 minutes of real work & the rest of the time being the time it takes to play/upload the LP to the computer. Its an amazing, amazing amount of music that can be sampled for free right now, and its completely changing the entire dynamic of music purchasing.

    • Grant

      I have found that there are a growing number of websites and newsletters that discuss and critique various genres of music. Subscribing to one or more in the genres you enjoy will generally supply you with weekly or monthly updates, reviews and the latest music.

      For instance, I’m a fan of electronic and DJ music, and a monthly newsletter called earplug (www.earplug.cc) generally gets me to add one or two new CDs to my collection, most of which I really enjoy, especially with the added background provided by the review.

    • Lori

      In addition to everything other folks have named above, I’ve really been enjoying Napster’s new “free preview” feature lately. They have a huge library, it’s free and it’s simple. So much better than the 30 second clips.

    • Most of the good music I have purchased lately comes from NPR. They often review music that I enjoy … but the best source on NPR is to look at the show logs that reveal the names of songs they play between news segments.

      Other good sources:

      • Last.fm
      • Pandora
      • VH1
      • Wolfgang’s Vault

      Many years ago, there was a site known as mp3.com that provided thousands of tracks from bands you’ve never heard of. Unfortunatley, the owners of that site succumbed to money filthy lucre. Now, it’s just another download site.



    • I feed my PC about 10 tracks a day on average, mostly through MP3 blogs like Soul Sides.

      The procedure goes like this:
      1. Surf sites at work and tag specific MP3 files as “adrock1999cast” via del.icio.us

      2. Convert the del.icio.us RSS feed into a podcast using Feedburner
      (I only had to do this once)

      3. Paste this Feedburner link into iTunes as a podcast (again, only once)

      4. All the music I find at work is magically downloaded to my home PC and then my iPod!

    • Good music… Well, I rarely find good music. Alot of good music finds me. As an owner of a couple of internet radio stations, I am sought out by indie bands, artists, promoters, etc.. just trying to get heard. From networking on myspace, I run into alot of new bands that are simply awesome.

      I rarely listen to regular radio anymore. Morning shows really, and the drive home from work. Thats about my exposure to it. If you really want to find good music, attend a live performance. See who’s also on the bill. They are still unspoiled by deadlines and contracts. They have a clear message usually, and 80% of the album will have sincerity. It’s their magnum opus.

      Sincerity, I believe, is what makes music ‘good’. It’s the culmination of an unspoiled artistic impression. You will rarely see that in commercial radio. You have to look beyond it. If you stick to that, you will always find ‘good’ music, regardless of genre.

    • An interesting question, but one that has a parallel on the other side of the fence

      As an artist, how do you get people to find your music? Particularly if you are not signed. To be honest, I expect anyone reading this to assume I am link whoring – and in some ways you would be right, but have you any idea how hard it is to get music out there for people to listen to?

      Its a shame, but the self referencing blogosphere is as hard a nut to crack as the jaded A&R types in the industry.

      Id appreciate any ideas.

      blatant whoring link: http://ukchill.wordpress.com

    • hey my name is carmen

    • Well, I’d say part of the problem with finding “good music” at least from listeners is that too many people want to be “spoonfed” entertainment ala American Idol. They’ve become far too perfectionistic, far too jaded and arent’ willing to give those artists who are ‘off the grid’ a chance. It doesn’t help matters that so many jaded people in the music business aren’t passionate about music, it’s all about the corporate suits going for the almighty dollar…so they’ll put up formualic McMusic ‘created’ on pro-tools as long as that it sells! No one wants to take a chance on originality or creativity. It’s truly a shame. I’d say it’s time for folks to stop being lazy, get off thattreadmill, think for themselves and maybe give some of those some of the “raw” but still original talents a chance. They may find themselves pleasantly surprised!

    • Check out GogruMogru.com to listen and download hindi songs

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