Recently, I was reading an article on Mashable when I noticed a teaser to another Mashable article titled “8 Ways to Discover Your New Favorite Band Online.” Given that Mashable is geared toward more technically savvy/Internet-heads like me, and music is pretty much the love of my life, I got super excited.
Talk about clicker’s remorse. What a freaking let down! Lamest article on music discovery I’ve ever read. Of the 8, there were TWO that were worthy of mention. The other six? iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Spotify, Rdio and YouTube. And even worse, it didn’t even really tell people how to use some of the lesser known features of these popular resources that could actually help them FIND new music.
Look, we live in the Internet age. There are literally hundreds of thousands of great music resources out there – blogs, apps, video channels, you name it. I have four or five dozen favorite ways to discover new music. Sorry, Mashable, I love ya, but here are 8 Even Better Ways to Discover Your New Favorite Band Online.
Get bands to buy into to giving away their music in exchange for fan email addresses and zip codes? Might sound far-fetched, but Derek Webb and his crew in Nashville have done it. Artists control what they can give away – full albums, samplers, live tracks. Even better, fans can tip artists if they so choose, or easily click to promote their downloads on other social media channels. Hundreds of artists giving away music and thousands upon thousands of fans getting exposure to new artists. Win, win, win. Recent artists to give music away on Noisetrade: The Civil Wars, Radiohead, Jars of Clay, Courrier and The Dirty Guv’nahs.
Daytrotter takes some of the hottest up and coming artists (as well as respected, long-established ones) and records them stripped down in small studios or at intimate live performances. They stream the sessions free for anyone to listen to, and for just $32 a year, you can become a member and download sessions. Combine it with some of the best music writing out there today and unique artwork of each artist, and you’ve got a recipe for million-dollar concert vault. In addition to a full-featured website, can also download the app for your device. Recent featured artists on Daytrotter: Ben Howard, The Maine, Grace Potter, Counting Crows, Half Moon Run and TONS more.
Think of Soundcloud like an audio-only Facebook. Follow artists and friends, repost sounds you like, explore new sounds. In addition to oooooodles of new music that I’ve found there, you can also check out podcasts (for example, the excellent Audio Astronauts), audio books, and just about anything else that people can record. In addition to the Soundcloud website, you can also download an app for your devices (App Store or Google Play).
4. Shazam (App Store or Google Play)
This one might be the best-known on my list, but I use it CONSTANTLY, so I can’t neglect talking about it. How many times have you been somewhere or watching a TV show and heard a song and wish you could find out what it was? Shazam is your answer. Two clicks on your phone or tablet and it does the work for you with surprising accuracy. Hold your device up, let it hear the song and … boom goes the dynamite, within a few seconds, you have the name of that earworm. What’s more, in the iPad version of the app, there’s real-time tagging to let you see what other folks are Shazam-ing. Great way to discover what is catching everyone else’s ear…
5. Bandsintown (iTunes or Google Play)
If you like going to see live music, this app is a MUST have. Best way to find out about artists (or new artists you might like) that are coming to your area. The app scans your music library to track artists, but it also allows you to view concerts your friends have RSVPed to, as well as popular events in your area. I think most of my music friends probably know about this one, but just this week, I had a non-music friend email me and say, “Thanks to you I found the bandsintown app! Going to see Marc Broussard in October! Just letting you know that my soon to be concert addiction will be all YOUR fault (and I love you for it)!”
This is one of my favorites that not many people seem to know. I stumbled across BalconyTV about three years ago when some band or another that I like had a session there. BalconyTV is a global concept where musicians play on “balconies” (sometimes decks, sometimes rooftops, but the general idea of somewhere higher up) in nearly 50 different cities (channels) all over the world. The sessions are short, one or two songs, and often enriched by the sounds of the city and weather – cars, wind, foot traffic, etc. Bands are usually local or regional, but every once in awhile a national or international band will show up on a channel around the world. BalconyTV started more than six years ago, so you can find a lot of old videos of once small, unknown bands that are huge acts now (like The Script in Dublin in 2007). I have discovered so much wonderful new music via BalconyTV, but my favorite find to date is still Mighty Oaks. Recently, BalconyTV became more interactive when it added a “judging” component where you can vote between the stronger of two sessions; rankings are used to score the sessions on a global basis. Check out recent sessions from Passenger, Matt Pond PA, Josh Doyle, Matt Corby, Youngblood Hawke, and The Dunwells.
7. Band of the Day (App Store)
I’ve written previously about Band of the Day, so I am not going to be long winded. This app is based on one really simple idea: push a band out a day to music lovers so that they can discover new music. The app has a pretty broad range of artists, from up and comers to long established bands, pop to rap to funk to electronic. From within the app, you to read bios, listen to songs, post about discoveries to other apps (Facebook, Twitter), listen to “mixtapes” (which select from featured Band of the Day artists), track artists you’ve listened to on the app, and check out the most popular Bands of the Day. Recently featured artists include one of my newest favorites James Bay, The Musgraves, Robert Randolph and more. Unfortunately, this one’s only available for Apple users as an app, but the website offers the same experience.
8. TastemakerX (App Store)
I’ve also written about TastemakerX before, but it’s such a unique concept that I couldn’t leave it out of this list. Self-billed as a “fan-powered game for music discovery,” TastemakerX is a way to strut your ability to know a good artist when you hear one. In short, you buy “records” of bands (with fake dollars, or “notes”). And then, a bit like the stock market, as more people buy records of the same band, the value of your collection goes up. You can “trade” out records if you want (selling off underperforming artists or to “make money” because a record has gone up in value). With great features that allow you to see what bands are hot and trending among other users, or to follow users with similar tastes to yours, you can easily find dozens of new bands to listen to. I love this app. I literally login every day to see how I’m doing and I always find something new. The ONLY complaint I have is that a lot of bands that I listen to just aren’t on the app yet – I’m not sure what store or base the app pulls from. However, you can email them with suggestions. I have in the past and they do listen and add them (Saints of Valory, for example…who, by the way, I own nearly 100,000 records of at this point…I’m driving my own cost up!). Again, only available in app on Apple devices, but you can also play online via the website.
This list certainly is just the tip of the iceberg, just a few of my most used and favorite features. So tell me what I’m missing! What other ways are you finding new music? Let me know, and maybe I’ll post “Even More Better Ways to Discover Your New Favorite Band Online.”