Monday, October 5, 2009

How Do You Discover New Music?

Lately I've been pondering the question: If nobody listens to pop radio anymore, how do they find new music?
The need to find an answer became more urgent last night when I was watching The Simpsons. Middle-aged and cynical Mrs. Krabappel was driving to work and singing along to McCartney's wistful 1971 hit, "Another Day." I was with her so far, since I've probably done the same thing at least twice in the last month. Then, blammo! Some teens in the next car yell, "Look at that old lady, singing a song that's a million years old!" Gah.
At this point you might be asking what this has to do with publishing, as opposed to my midlife crisis. The answer is that the music business should serve as publishing's canary in the coalmine. We need to watch how they handle the impact of technology (so far, not great) for clues on how publishing will face similar issues. Or even better, I need to understand how younger people perceive content consumption in the digital age.
So, I'm asking the younger readers: How do you discover new music to listen to? How many times do you need to hear a song before you decide to buy (or steal) it? I have so many more questions, but let's start with those.
Now, for my fellow oldsters. How do you break out of the musical time warp you've created for yourself with your iPod and your satellite radio and the retro programming on traditional radio? It's quite possible for us to go through an entire day and not hear a song that was released after 1989. So how do we break out of that and find new music to enjoy? (A corollary: Is my interest in Death Cab for Cutie as embarrassing as when my mom got into Mellencamp?)


Mark Roy Long said...

Well, I pretty much gave up on music radio once the bands I listened to in high school somehow morphed seamlessly into classic rock. (And I could go the rest of my life without hearing the same selection of songs by Steve Miller Band, Scorpions, Pink Floyd, and so on ad nauseum.) Plus, on those odd occasions when I'm someplace where there is newer rock/indie music on the radio, nobody seems to announce song/artist info any more anyway.

Given all that, the biggest impact on my music buying habits has been Pandora. Since I can set up "stations" focused on an artist I already like (or think I might like) I'll then get those additional songs by other folks that some algorithm somewhere thinks I might like. So, the Brian Jonestown Massacre led to ultimately buying CDs by bands I otherwise NEVER would have heard of: Viva Voce, Hopewell, Sun Dial, The Lovetones, Spacemen 3, and The Redwalls.

Lori Cates Hand said...

Awesome. I will check that out. I used to do something similar with Launchcast, but quit when I got my iPod. Now it looks like they won't personalize radio stations for you anymore.

Enusan said...

Sites like pandora and definitely help expand your musical preferences. If I hear something new I like I write down the artist and music and do a 'similar artists' search.

Word of mouth is still the number one easiest way to find new music that you're likely to enjoy. I don't listen to radio or care much about up and coming hits, but friends and family mention new discoveries and I follow that.

I have also found a lot of music through what's essentially small time piracy. Many personal sites will have mp3s of a few of their favorite songs for others to download. Some people create sites dedicated to just that purpose. Many of my own favorite artists have been the result of an offhand download, and I've spent money on them later on because of it.

However, my musical preferences are non-standard. I don't listen to pop or anything to gets much air time on the radio, so word of mouth and various internet channels are often the only ways I can find what I want.

Kt said...

I'm 20 and I also gave up on music radio once they simply stopped playing anything by the bands I listened to in high school except for the rare, played-out single. I can't remember the last time I heard Smashing Pumpkins, Tool, Disturbed, Korn, Rage Against the Machine. All they play is pop and hip-hop and Nickelback. And don't even get me started on MTV/VH1

Pandora is a great source of music for me, as well as word-of-mouth. Borrowing someone else's iPod or riding with friends is probably the main way I discover new music, but its usually just new to me.

Kt said...

Also: movie soundtracks.

Heather said...

I can still find interesting things on the radio, especially college and high school radio stations. Sometimes mainstream radio comes through, too. I became a Tod Snider fan a while back after hearing him perform live on the Bob and Tom Show and NPR.

I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I've also discovered a lot of cool songs from TV commercials (especially for cars and technology products). You just have to Google the product name to find the song title and artist.

Anonymous said...

NPR. Youtube. Friends. I can spend obscene amounts of time wondering from suggestion to suggestion on Youtube. I skim the comments to find similar bands to the one I'm listening to.