It has never been easier to discover new music. Between Spotify, Apple Music, Google Music, and the other streaming services, algorithms are serving up personalized lists that cater to your exact tastes in music.
But if you think back to how you discovered music in days gone past, there are other ways than to rely on algorithms.
Rather than simply reinforcing your taste in music, these alternative methods give you the opportunity to discover new genres of music, help you think outside the box, and give you a chance to widen your horizons.
1. Ask Friends
Who better to tell you your taste in music could use some improvement than your friends? Actual real-life friends. The chances are some of them already do this, but asking your friends about what they’re listening to is a great way to discover new music.
While this really is about taking these conversations offline, these days it’s inevitable that technology is intertwined with just about everything.
And if you don’t want to encourage your friend who loves The Smiths to launch into a 30-minute diatribe on why Morrissey’s solo career was an absolute travesy, you could check out their social media profiles or follow them on Spotify.
Some of their listening habits will obviously be shaped by an algorithm, but it’s an algorithm that has nothing to do with your own listening habits, so you might be in for a surprise or two.
2. Read Books
Head over to your local library and use your library card to check out ebooks through Overdrive. Or if you still like actually owning books, you could even purchase a couple of these titles yourself.
Robert Dimery’s series of books: 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, and 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die: And 10,001 You Must Download, give you a ton to work with.
If you’re a fan of High Fidelity (whether the book or the movie), you could also give Nick Hornby’s Songbook a try.
And speaking of movies, don’t forget that as the credits roll on your favorite movies, everything you need to know about the music you heard is listed there. A younger listener, for example, might make some pretty cool discoveries on the soundtracks of The Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
3. Read Music Magazines
Whether it’s websites, blogs, or print magazines, there’s plenty to discover through people who write about this stuff for a living. You could go for the well-known heavy hitters like Rolling Stone magazine. Or if you’d rather find the blogs that speak to your specific taste in music, check out this list of music blogs ranked by traffic, inbound links, RSS subscribers, and more.
You can also take a trip down to your local library or Barnes and Noble (yes they still exist), and leaf through some music magazines to determine which ones you think are best for you.
4. Listen to the Radio
If you drive to work, tune into the radio station that plays the music that you like. Use a site like Radio Locator, which while not the prettiest, makes it easy to find US radio stations by state or ZIP code. The results list includes the genre of music that is played on each station.
And while this is really all about a more internet-free experience when it comes to finding new music, you can always stream those radio stations online using a service like IHeartRadio.
5. Follow Lists Curated by Your Favorite Artists
If you’re a fan of an artist, chances are you’re going to like the music that they listen to. So how do you find out who your favorite artist listen to? Spotify is an easy place to start, as there’s a good chance that your favorite artist has created or curated a list of songs they think their fans will enjoy.
If you don’t know where to begin people are sharing these lists in the Spotify community forum.
If you’re wondering if your favorite singers or bands curate lists, go to their Spotify profiles and scroll down past all of their albums. If they have created public playlists, they’ll be listed under Artist Playlists.
This way, rather than depending on Spotify’s algorithm-based lists (which can be pretty great), you can get a more random listening experience by tuning in to playlists created by actual human beings whose music tastes you respect.
And don’t forget that Spotify also makes it easy to keep up with your friends’ musical tastes: if you connect your Facebook and Spotify accounts, you can find out what your friends are listening to, provided they’ve done the same.
Just don’t forget that it’s a two-way street. Unless you’re listening to Spotify in private mode, your friends will also see what you’re listening to.
6. Go to a Record Store
While you’re out at Barnes and Noble looking for books about songs you should listen to, you could also give their music section a visit.
Better yet, if you’re lucky enough to have an old record store in your area, that’s an even better place to go. You’ll find people working there who can make recommendations, and can probably recommend a ton of off-the-beaten-path music.
Go on Yelp and see if your city has a record store that could become an invaluable resource to help you discover new music.
7. Support at Live Shows
Whether you actually go to live concerts or not, you could find out which artists are opening at your favorite band’s concerts. This is as simple as Googling the name of the artist along with “opening acts” or “support”.
You can also just go to your favorite artist’s website and find details on their past, current, or upcoming tours. Not all artists list this information on their sites, but it’s worth taking a look.
8. Music TV Channels and Documentaries
That said, there are still some great options for those of you who want to go the traditional route. Even if you don’t get cable, there are quite a few ways to watch TV legally online.
Algorithms Aren’t Everything
As you can see, while algorithms are a great way of discovering new music, they aren’t the be-all and end-all. In fact, there are a lot of other ways to discover new music, many of which aren’t reliant on the internet. Which might mean these methods are completely fresh to younger readers.
What are the unique methods you use to discover new music? Or do you find that algorithms offer the best music for you? Let us know in the comments below!