Where I Find New Music

By June 3, 2010Blog

Until about a year and a half ago, I used to run a music blog called the Fabulist. I actively pored through various outlets prowling for new music, including other blogs, radio, magazines, television, friends– you name it. I was on the hunt.

When I stopped actively contributing to the blog, I turned my efforts elsewhere and my ravenous appetite for new music waned. And so did my up-to-the-minute awareness of where individuals hunt for new music now.

A friend of mine yesterday sent me to the HypeMachine popular list. I’m deeply familiar with the HypeMachine; I got in early on their blog lists with the Fabulist and emailed Anthony, one of the individuals at the helm, a fair bit back and forth in the beginning. The HypeMachine is a good snapshot of current popular music– but it’s a snapshot of a particular niche of music-lovers. And it’s a far different snapshot than, say, the charts at Last.FM And different yet again from the charts on Spotify.

Each place you go hunting for music gives you a different overlay, a different niche audience of music-lovers. It used to be the case that most people got their music recommendations from a small number of sources: homogenized radio stations, MTV, a few major record labels.

Now, there are an infinite number of places to find channels of music distribution. Out of curiosity, I did a very informal, very unscientic survey of about twenty-seven people on Twitter, and asked: “How do you normally find out about new music? Also, if you normally find new music through blogs, what blogs do you read?”

Surprise: almost everyone named a completely different source for music discovery. There is no one place or one person.


Individuals– either friend connections or trusted connections– and “the internet” rank highest. But both of those categories are made up of very specific different details– each person has a different friend they rely on, or a different trusted source. A different music blog they love or Twitter feed they follow.

Which is to say, we have all become hunters and gatherers of music.


I’m asking for selfish reasons. The back of my brain spends a lot of time whirring over music marketing: how to do it, where, what’s most effective. Which mountain should you climb to the top of and what kind of bullhorn should you use?

After you have a shiny stack of hopefully good music in hand, there are an equally infinite number of marketing strategies as there are current music distribution channels. Everyone is guessing at the next move, and stacking up their chips accordingly on what is, effectively, a risky bet.

But: people are consuming more music than ever before. The music industry has gone through the equivalent of the Big Bang. And everyone has scattered to their own private corner of the universe, with their fractional piece of the music world.

What does that mean? Pay attention to everything? Pay attention to nothing, find your own corner of like-minded peers and drill down? Both? Neither?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Maybe the lesson here is to be flexible, adaptive, and not marry any one method. If most people find new music from their trusted connections and the internet– which probably have a lot of overlap between them– then the answer is to make good music, and trust that if you put it anywhere, then it should find its way into the hands of the people who will love it by word of mouth. Spreading your music across multiple sources just ups the chances it will get seen.

But ultimately: “The number one success-driving factor in your online exposure is NOT what station you broadcast on, but how strong your signal is.” *

#whereifindnewmusic tweets

kylecassidy: @olganunes the “current music” tag on livejournal posts by people who seem cool. or i find cd’s on the street.

klagor: @olganunes from @toosunnyouthere frequently (impeccable taste), artist/writer blogs, going to random shows, @fm949sd #twitterpoll

towelinmonk: @olganunes Historically either by listening to the radio (@phantom1052 , specifically) or via friends

tumblenc: @olganunes through friend recommendations, or from bands who go: “oh this is amazing! They toured with me!” and usually it’s good ^^

vampandora: @olganunes in the last year or 2 it seems to be from @neilhimself or a degree removed! 🙂

MsRedPen: Music blogs are my primary source. –> RT @olganunes: How do you normally find out about new music? #twitterpoll

PenguinOfWar: @olganunes Browsing @Spotify. Discovered two bands this week.

DiabaLorena: @olganunes I download ALL free songs from Last.fm. If I listen to anything interesting,I look for further information about the artist.

klagor: @olganunes sometimes pitchfork, found AFP through Neil’s blog,@sddialedin’s blog’s great, boing boing

thisfred: @olganunes: http://daytrotter.com, http://rcrdlbl.com, cmj new music monthly, paste magazine #whereifindnewmusic

thisfred: @olganunes: also I wrote a spider that keeps track of mp3 blogs for me so I don’t have to: http://is.gd/cA64j (expand) #whereifindnewmusic

thisfred: @olganunes: oh, and the always excellent (but Dutch language only)http://3voor12.vpro.nl #whereifindnewmusic

jamesmcgraw: @olganunes #whereifindnewmusic is the internet, or by listening to what is playing in Yumchaa (lovely London tea shop)

Athenasbanquet: @olganunes Mostly Pandora, but Joss Whedon’s shows are almost always good for a new band too.

lbc42a: @olganunes a lot I find music in commercials or movies and then research out from there. #whereifindnewmusic

dwneylonsr: @olganunes blogs, tweets, youtube, facebook and always the traditional “you’ve GOT to hear this!” 🙂 #whereifindnewmusic

mollydot: @olganunes You & AFP thru NG’s blog, tho Dolls on radio 1st. Boekbinder thru AFP. Emile Autumn on youtube. Florence & the Machine via friend

mollydot: @olganunes In summary, mostly through social media, whether via someone I know or not.

pcbeard: @olganunes Groove Salad.

everyueveryme: @olganunes Usually,via random links at HypeMachine & Last.FM.Also spying on other peoples’ profiles at social networks#whereifindnewmusic

neilhimself: @olganunes from You.

herasings: @olganunes miss the fabulist… through friends, blogs and sometimes just walking by (love shazam for iphone) #whereifindnewmusic

herasings: @olganunes good for finding out what song that snippet in the ad/movie/random place is.. but mostly online stumblings..

Kambrieldesign: Often new bands will come to me for stagewear & I end up liking their music as much as they like my designs! @olganunes #whereifindnewmusic

skyekat: @olganunes Does the back matter in Phonogram count as “from a public individual whose taste you trust” or via comics? #whereifindnewmusic

LATACO: @olganunes going to shows, xmu radio, music blogs, Twitter

Nullh: @olganunes BBC Radio 6 Music! They’ve pointed me at some great stuff, most recently Josh Rouse. #whereifindnewmusic #save6music

shipwrekmusic: @olganunes Mostly soundcloud. #whereifindnewmusic

musictwig: @olganunes Recs from friends mostly, also weekly free downloads from various websites #whereifindnewmusic http://www.manitobamusic.com/

FenGar: @olganunes Nobody’s said “radio”? I don’t often go looking for new music, so #whereifindnewmusic is usually movies and TV shows.

oneiromantics: @olganunes Used to find great stuff when I was a Sirius radio subscriber, mostly on XMU. These days, no car, no radio. #whereifindnewmusic

bobbikey: @olganunes college radio

Cillygrrl14: @olganunes band forums, supporting bands, facebook groups, YouTube, last fm categories, Twitter… & mix CDs & friends! #whereifindnewmusic

* quoted from Jason Seigler.

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  • http://twitter.com/aetherninja Marc

    I always try to “discover” new music rather than go looking for it. It always seemed much more organic and fulfilling when you hit that “Holy crap, this sounds awesome!” moment. Local music festivals are like treasure troves for this kind of thing.

  • http://snailbird.com Nikki

    Pandora has become a source of constant inspiration for me. I love it because more often than not, I find myself quickly writing down the names of songs and artists just so I can look up more by them.
    I also live in Austin, TX, a phenomenal resource for great local music and new bands just hitting it big. Music is everywhere here.