Where do you turn when you want to discover new music? There’s the Spotify Discover Weekly playlist, but it doesn’t always offer recommendations you’re interested in. Furthermore, the service still can’t shake off the allegations that it favors mainstream artists over indie artists, especially as it’s tough for small artists to get their music onto the app in the first place.
If you prefer discovering relatively unknown or obscure artists, you probably use SoundCloud. But SoundCloud has issues: its financial footing isn’t inspiring confidence, its subscription service is beset with problems, and many artists have complained about the draconian copyright infringement rules.
Here are seven other websites to help you discover new music by indie artists from around the world.
Orfium is a relatively new name in the world of music apps, but it’s well-worth checking out.
Unlike SoundCloud’s execs, the company’s co-founder and CEO, Chris Mohoney, has a significant background in the music business. He insists it gives Orfium an edge over its competitors whose apps were built by “technology entrepreneurs and programmers who don’t understand how the music business works.”
Mohoney’s knowledge has translated into a fantastic user experience for both listeners and artists alike.
From a music discovery standpoint, the site’s homescreen provides links to top charts (by day, week, and month), but things start to get really interesting when you click the Discover tab at the top of the page. You’ll find several genres’ most popular tracks on the platform and can delve deeper still by using the Sub-Categories and Moods menus.
You can also follow artists and playlists. Over time, Orfium will learn about your tastes and offer recommended tracks in your music feed.
If you’re into dance music, you’re probably already aware of MixCloud; it’s arguably SoundCloud’s most well-known competitor. As the name suggests, the content you’ll find here mainly revolves around mixes, remixes, and mashups.
As music creators grew increasingly frustrated with SoundCloud’s aggressive copyright takedown policy in 2016, many of them jumped to MixCloud. SoundCloud’s policy reversal at the turn of 2017 did little to quell their anger, and most have not returned.
As such, MixCloud is probably the best site on the web for finding little-known EDM acts. The more profiles you follow, the more refined the site’s People to Follow recommendations become.
It’s worth mentioning that MixCloud puts the emphasis on you, the user, to get the ball rolling. You need to curate your own listening experience from the outset. However, if you’re prepared to put in the time sampling and testing tracks, the payoff is massive.
If you’re not sure where to start, head to the Categories tab at the top of the page. It breaks the site’s content down into countless genres, some even more obscure than Spotify’s more left-field offerings.
If you like the user experience SoundCloud offers but want to get away from the corporate shenanigans that have afflicted the app in the last 18 months, HearThis.At should be top of your list. The site’s layout and features are eerily similar to SoundCloud. Even the cool graphic that displays how far you are through a certain song is almost identical.
It only began life in 2013, but there are already more than a million tracks and DJ mixes for you to dig into.
When you load the app for the first time, you’ll instantly see a feed of new tracks on the home screen. If none of them appeal, you can use the excellent search function to find new tracks by date, genre, social shares, and number of plays.
There’s also a unique feature called Maps. Just type a location and pick a genre, and it’ll show you anyone nearby who’s uploaded a track that matches your selection. It’s a great way to discover local bands you can then watch live in your town.
What?! MySpace still exists?! Well, yes, but probably not as you know it.
In 2012, pop icon Justin Timberlake and Specific Media Group bought the ailing social network for $35 million. It officially relaunched in early-2013 with a focus on radio stations, music mixes, and videos, as well as some written editorial content. All the “classic” MySpace features — like blogs, private messages, and comments — were removed.
Fast-forward to today, and the site offers four primary ways to find new bands:
- Search — Look for profiles by type (for example, producer, venue, promoter, DJ, etc.) or by genre.
- Radio — You can personalize stations by artist and genre.
- Discover — See what Myspace recommends based on who you follow and what you’ve listened to.
- Stream — A live feed of new content from all your people and profiles you follow.
While the relaunch might not have grabbed the public’s attention at large, it’s been largely successful. Timberlake and his associates sold the site to Time Inc. in early 2016, and the new owners continue to plow money and other resources into the project.
Fanburst is not rich with feature, and the website is rather plain, so why is it on the list?
Because it has one really cool feature: artists can invite you to follow their profile. What does that mean in practice? If you start following a lot of indie rock bands, other small bands will come across your profile and invite you to check out their music. It’s essentially flipping the music discovery concept on its head — you’re not discovering bands, rather, bands are discovering you!
Aside from the invite tool, the genres on the site are in three broad sections: Hip-hop, Indie, and Dance. They’re all accessible through the menu on the right-hand side of the screen. Click one, and you’ll get a never-ending playlist of the most popular tracks on the site within your chosen genre. You can click on View More Trending Playlists if you want to view more granular data.
Gaana is a niche service, but if you’re serious about expanding your musical horizons, give it a chance.
It has been around since 2010 and primarily focuses on Indian music (though if you’re inside India, you can also stream international music). It features music in 21 different languages from across the country and covers both Indian chart music and little-known artists who specialize in ones of India’s many regional musical styles.
Finding music is easy. On the homescreen, there are links to new releases, trending songs, editor’s picks, and artist radio. For a richer experience, click the Discover link on the left-hand panel. It guides you towards a variety music across categories such as “Workout,” “90s Bollywood”, “Sufi,” and “Devotional,” “Ghazal,” and “Meditation.”
You can Like and Follow artists, bands, and playlists so you can easily rediscover them at a later date.
Anghami is perfect if you enjoy Arabic songs. Whether you want to hear the latest sounds coming out of Lebanon or chill out to some Tunisian tunes, this app has it all.
Of course, most of our readers won’t be too familiar with Arabic music, meaning the whole service is a voyage of discovery. But if you give it a try and love it, some of its tools can help you dig further into the cutting edge of the region’s sounds.
The best tool is the Personal DJ. It doesn’t matter whether you’re cooking, partying, or sleeping, you just tell the DJ what kind of mood you’re in, and the app takes care of the rest. You can also tell it to focus on individual filters; for example, perhaps you only want to hear new releases or content from specific sub-genres you’re trying to explore.
The app is entirely free to use, but you can subscribe for some extra features.
How Do You Discover New Music?
In this article we have shown you seven sites that will help you find new music from indie artists. Some of them will help you find bands and musicians in your local area, while some will help you get ahead of the curve when it comes to new regional stars. Now it’s time for you to share your input.
Have we missed your favorite discovery app off the list? Why does it deserve to be included? Do you use any of the websites we have featured? If so, which ones? Which new indie artists have you discovered as a result? Please let us know in the comments below!
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