Are you fed up with listening to the same music all the time? It doesn’t matter whether you like Bieber or Black Sabbath, we could all do with a change every now and again.
Broadening your musical horizons by discovering new or niche genres can be beneficial. You might discover a new artist — or even a whole genre of music — that you weren’t previously aware of.
Of course, you can use the music discovery tools in the mainstream streaming services such as Spotify, but these aren’t always enough. The tools’ algorithms still have a tendency to steer you back towards the stuff you already know about.
You need some websites and apps that take you out of your comfort zone. With that in mind, here are eight essential websites for broadening your musical knowledge.
Hearts of Space started life as a San Francisco radio station back in 1973. Over the following three decades the station blossomed into nearly 300 individual channels. The company even launched its own record label in 1984. In 2001, it launched a music streaming service, and the app is still going strong.
The site focuses on “space music.” But what exactly does the phrase mean?
In short, it’s a catch-all term for any contemplative background music. You can expect to hear a heavy influence from ambient, new-age, and electronic artists, but there’s also a smattering of classical, world, celtic, and experimental tracks.
You can choose from several pricing plans. The cheapest Basic service costs $2 per month and provides access to the weekly radio shows. The top-end All Access plan is $10 per month and offers on-demand access to the entire radio archive along with thousands of albums.
If you’re tired of listening to synthesized modern albums, perhaps you need to start listening to live music instead. It’s much more authentic and raw than most contemporary recorded music.
If the idea of live music appeals to you, check out Concert Vault. It claims to have “the world’s greatest collection of concert recordings.” With a little digging, you can find some of the rarest and most iconic performances in the history of music.
The service offers six primary music genres: rock, blues, jazz, country, folk and bluegrass, and indie. But you’ll also find some live comedy and rare interviews.
A monthly membership costs $3.99. For this, you’ll get access to the entire catalog, curated playlists, and the ability to stream music on all your devices.
3. Simfy Africa
The name is a giveaway. Simfy Africa has the biggest selection of artists and bands from Africa anywhere on the web. It mostly focuses on music from South Africa, but there’s plenty of content from across the entire continent.
The app also offers tracks from international bands and musicians, thus offering you the perfect blend between niche and mainstream.
As you’d expect, the service offers artist radio channels, mood-based playlists, and a host of social features. The Basic plan costs $1.85 per month, but you won’t be able to download songs for offline listening. To add more functionality, you’ll need the All Access package for $4.50 per month.
Affectionately called the “Wikipedia of old-time radio” by its users, RUSC offers more than 35,000 shows for you to download or stream. The bulk of the content is from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. The selection of shows is diverse, offering everything from music to crime thrillers.
In terms of music, you can expect to find classics from performers such as Al Jolson, Glenn Miller, and Abbott and Costello. These radio shows played everything from the era’s superstars like Bing Crosby to unknown orchestral music and live music from local nightspots.
For $7.50 per month, you get access to the entire library, themed radio stations, “Top 20” charts for each genre, and even quizzes and crosswords.
I wrote about Gaana when I introduced you to some of the best apps for discovering indie artists.
It’s a streaming service that specializes in Indian music (though, if you’re in India, you can also listen to international artists). There are three key regional genres included: Ghazal, Antakshari, and Sufi, but there’s also plenty of specialist music dedicated to Bollywood movies, meditation, religious devotion, and more.
Best of all, the service has songs in 21 languages from across the country. All of the widely spoken dialects such as Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, and Tamil are well-represented, as are lots of less-common regional tongues.
Gaana costs $33 for a year-long subscription. Mobile apps are available.
Classical music has inspired some of the greatest minds in human history. Einstein is known to have been a fan, and he did OK for himself.
At the broadest level, classical music is the oldest defined music genre in the world. It has its roots in the 11th century and is still going strong a millennium later. As such, there’s a lot of material for you to dive into, and Classical Archives makes it all wonderfully accessible.
The numbers on the website are mind-boggling. There are works from more than 21,000 composers, 87,000 artists, and 620 recording labels. It all adds up to more than a million individual tracks, some of which are several hours long.
Non-subscribers can buy individual works for around $1 apiece, depending on the track and composer. For $7.99 per month, you can enjoy unlimited streaming across all your devices, create playlists, and download up to 100 free MIDI files each day. You also get a 10 percent discount on MP3 downloads.
7. The Overflow
Even if you’re not a Christian, it’s hard not to love gospel choirs. The harmonious vocals and uplifting blend of piano, organ, tambourines, and drums is very easy on the ears.
The Overflow specializes in gospel and Christian music. You’ll find all the genre’s top artists, including Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, Lecrae, and Newsboys, as well as classic hymns and artist-led devotionals.
The app is available on iOS and Android. It supports offline playback and has a section dedicated to new releases so you can quickly find new tracks.
A subscription costs $4.99 per month.
8. Jazz Radio
Jazz Radio offers its users 35 radio stations, each of which specializes in a specific sub-category of the genre. Everything from big band to bebop is included, and you’ll also find plenty of modern jazz and international jazz.
An expert “director” curates each station, so you can be sure you’re going to hear the very best that each sector can offer.
For $4 per month, you can nab yourself a premium subscription. This removes the ads, offers higher-quality playback, and lets you listen to the channels via the various mobile apps.
How Do You Broaden Your Musical Horizons?
Your music tastes can narrow as you get older, leaving you listening to the same songs as 20 years ago. Don’t let that happen to you. Instead, embrace change, and put yourself out of your musical comfort zone once in a while. Otherwise you’ll be missing out on so many alternative genres.
Of course, overhearing a track in a store or at a party can introduce you to a whole world of music you never knew existed, but don’t leave it to chance. Instead, be proactive and actually endeavor to find new artists you’ll love. Doing so can send you on a hugely satisfying journey.
How have you broadened your musical horizons in the past? Which websites, apps, and services do you currently use to discover new music? Are you already a fan of any of the genres mentioned above? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below!