As we mature (or to put it more bluntly, grow old) our tastes in many things change. The movies that we loved as teenagers will no longer appeal, the food we turned our noses up at as kids will now set our taste buds on fire. And the music that shaped our formative years will give way to new genres, new tempos, and new bands. Unless you’re a fan of the Rolling Stones, whose music will probably outlive us all.
But where to find this new music our brains long for and ears crave? Why, on the InterWebs, of course. What follows are five websites you can visit whenever you feel the need to discover new music. And they’re all free to use, up to a point. Once you have found a new artist you want to hear more from you then have the choice to either buy their album or switch to one of the many streaming music services available. They’re also all a little unusual, offering a twist on the normal way of doing things.
Earbits heralds itself simply as “free online radio” but it’s actually a lot more than that. Earbits is a platform where new artists can connect with potential (and future) fans. These are independent bands not beholden to the big record labels, which means they have the freedom to make the music they want but a tougher time getting that music out there. Which is where earbits enters into the equation.
Music lovers get the chance to hear music for free streaming on the Web or via the (read about the previously reviewed Earbits Radio) Android app, and the artists get an affordable way of marketing themselves to the masses. Music is divided into genres and sub-genres, meaning you can easily find artists of the same style as those you already like. Or you can rely on the editors to pick out the music for you.
Bandcamp is another website that acts as a middleman between artists and their potential fans. Each artist has their own microsite on the bandcamp domain, which they use to promote themselves, and sell music, merchandise, and even tickets for live shows. Bandcamp takes a cut of the profits, but it’s a smaller percentage than a record label would skim from a new artist’s sales.
Thankfully you can also play the songs, either in part or in full, to get a taste for an individual artist’s sound before you commit to buying their wares. Each artist sets their own rate, with some giving downloads away from free, others charging as much for an album as an established artist (and their record label) might.
Music bloggers are an important part of the musical landscape now, holding the power to promote bands and turn them from nondescript nobodies into successful somebodies. You could bookmark dozens of music blogs to discover what is trending out there on the blogosphere, or you could just bookmark The Hype Machine and let them do the donkey work for you.
The Hype Machine tracks the biggest and best music blogs and pulls together information on what they’re playing and promoting. You can find out which artists are newly arriving on the scene, which are proving popular, which are being talked about on Twitter, which have risen above the others over the course of the last year, and a lot more besides.
Loudr is similar to Bandcamp, offering a platform for independent artists to sell their music to the public. The one big difference being that Loudr deals exclusively in covers. Covering music by other artists is a legitimate way to build a following for your talents before you start creating your own original material. And Loudr takes all the pain out of the process.
The website takes care of the licensing and reporting back to the owners of the original songs being covered. It also offers a simple method for the cover artists to make money, with a “pay what you want” system where the buyer decides the value of the songs they’re purchasing. This is like a 2-for-1 for people seeking to discover new music, as they’ll discover both the original artists and those covering them.
This Is My Jam works on the very simple premise that we all have one song stuck in our heads at any given time. So, why not share that song with everyone else so that they may also get it stuck in their heads. You create a profile and add a song, your jam, to the site for up to seven days at a time. And then you replace it with another. Rinse and repeat.
You can follow people whose tastes you find yourself agreeing with, and you can be followed by others who find you’re a good source for music recommendations. Unlike the other websites listed here, This Is My Jam features music both old and new, and artists both established and independent. A warning though, This Is My Jam is extremely addictive.
This list represents just five of the many ways to discover new music online, but there are many others. We have previously featured music search engines, ways to discover music you’ve never heard before, and more free ways to find new music to get your aural pleasure centers tingling with excitement.
Now it’s over to you to tell us what you think… Do you use any of the websites listed here? Are there any others that have never been featured here on MakeUseOf that you’d like to share with your fellow readers? YouTube, Spotify, and iTunes all offer different and distinct ways to source music, so which do you use once you find a new artist you like? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.