My favourite methods for music discovery

I don’t listen to the radio.  I dislike radio advertising for both the interruption, volume increases, and the overall quality.  I also don’t like DJ’s generally – with the possible exception of morning radio shows.  I just want to listen to the music – perhaps with some news every now and then.

I listen to my own music library on my iPhone or Sonos and I subscribe to Spotify — I am a huge fan of Spotify.

The problem is that radio stations are a great source for discovering new music and when you only listen to music that you already know about – “discovery” sort of gets eliminated from the equation.   Over the past year or so, I’ve come to rely on a number of services to help me find new artists and tracks; here’s a few:

 

Music Discovery without Spotify

Last.fm, Rdio, etc

Last.fm, Rdio and similar services are great when you don’t want to listen to a single album or can’t be bothered to create a custom playlist.  You enter an artist/band/genre that you like and then it will play songs from that artist and music that it considers to be similar.  I have found a number of new artists from listening to Last.fm stations.

Social Networking

A lot of people share what they are listening to on services like Twitter.  If you follow people that have similar musical tastes to yourself, then you can search your own Twitter stream for the most popular hashtag – “#nowlistening”.  Alternatively, you can use Twitter’s search tool to search Twitter generally for this tag – like this.

 

Discovery with Spotify

Spotify has made it very easy to share tracks and playlists with other Spotify subscribers and this has become my primary method for discovery these days:

Spotify Radio

This feature only arrived on Spotify the other day and since then, I have used it almost exclusively.  It is excellent when you are using the Spotify app on your mobile phone and it might just replace my Last.fm subscription.

ShareMyPlaylists

This is a site where people share playlists.  These playlists are tagged with keywords, genres, etc and when you press play on the website the list will automatically be added to Spotify so that you can listen to it.  Once you have it loaded in Spotify, you can then “subscribe” to the list so that it is easier to access again and will automatically be updated when the list creator makes changes.  These playlists can then be flagged as “offline” so that you can take them with you on your phone if you like.

Spotify Apps

Recently, Spotify added an app facility into their software.  There are apps from services like ShareMyPlaylists – but also radio stations, record labels, and magazines like Billboard or Rolling Stone.

For me, the charts are great playlists to subscribe to as they are updated weekly.  Billboard offer all their main categories  – Rock, Country, Top 200, Hot 100, R&B, etc – which get updated each week. Radio 1 also keep their weekly playlist updated on Spotify.  These are great tools for discovery of new or up and coming tracks and albums.

Spotibot

This is a simple and free to use web service that uses Last.fm to create a spotify playlist – based on an artist that you like.  It’s a little slow, but produces some interesting results.  Once created, you just press play and the playlist will be loaded into Spotify for you.

Pitchify

Pitchify is a web site that is pure discovery.  It monitors reviews from online music magazines like Pitchfork and Drowned In Sound every day.  It then checks if the reviewed albums are available on Spotify and includes only those albums receiving a rating of 8 out of 10.

You will come across many albums that you probably had not yet heard of .. and you never know – you may find something completely new that you fall in love with.

 

So you don’t need to listen to the radio to discover new tracks and new artists.  The Radio naturally has its place, and I have to admit that I will listen to radio stations in Texas – including the ads and the DJ’s..  But when you just want to listen to music, then there are far better methods in my opinion.

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