Discovering new music online – a guide

The popularity of the Internet has made it easier than ever to both enjoy music as a consumer and promote it online as a producer. Although many artists lament their loss of earnings as a result of subscription platforms, as well as illegal downloads, the truth is there’s never been a better time to enjoy music online. As a listener, there are practically endless possibilities of discovering new music, as well as listening to all your current favourites. In this article we cover some of the best ways to discover new sounds from around the Internet. If you want to expand your musical horizons, you may well find it worthwhile to read on.

Subscription based platforms

There are several streaming platforms around, such as Spotify, Pandora and others. They each work slightly differently, but the gist of it is that you can discover related artists by their relation to artists you already like. The software itself decides which artists are “related” (i.e. what the algorithm or employees of the company decide would appeal to people who enjoy artist X) and while results are not always that accurate, things are certainly improving. If you follow the trail of related artists, you may well find quite a few new sounds you like. There platforms are meant to be enjoyed on your computer and most now have apps as well, so you can stream music or your phone. Some allow you to save offline copies so that you can play them even when you don’t have an Internet connection. You can usually choose between a free account (with various limitations and advertising) and a paid account with fewer restrictions and zero advertising. Similarly to the above, Soundcloud also now has both an app and a very reasonable recommendation engine, so it’s worth checking it out as means of discovering interesting music from around the web.

Purchase platforms

Sites like Bandcamp  and Beatport offer bands and musicians a chance not just to stream music to the public, but also to sell digital copies and even physical copies such as CDs and records, as well as merchandise. You can browse these sites to discover new music and although they are not really meant to function as a radio station, they can still be a good place to listen to music, with the added bonus of allowing you to support the artists directly.

Internet Radio stations

Streaming technology means people no longer need a license to run radio stations that can be listened to anywhere in the world. There are thousands of great Internet radio stations all over the Internet (and lots of really bad ones too!) as well as websites dedicated to listing the best ones by style, theme or location. The best thing is, you can listen to these anywhere – on your computer, on your tablet, your phone, or even on dedicated Internet radio players that look and sound like a standard radio tuner (check http://www.thesmartfuture.net/internet-radio-reviews/ for reviews of the best ones). You can listen to your favourite musical styles, your favourite DJs or brand new ones. Once you find stations you like, we guarantee you’ll be hooked on the concept.

Podcasts

Not quite radio stations, but these are basically like individual radio shows that you can download or stream and listen to anywhere. Many podcasts are basically talk radio, but some include music or are dedicated to showcasing all kinds of great sounds. It’s worth checking these out to see if you find a podcast host you can identify with. You never know what great recommendations you might find that way. Just remember that practically anyone can produce a podcast, so the quality is not always the best. You’ll have to do some searching and listening before you find stuff you like.

Music blogs

Last but not least, we return to the written word (sort of) for recommendations. Music blogs are often the first to discover a hit, especially on the alternative music scene, the dance scene and the hip hop scene. There are some great blogs out there that share soundcloud links, Youtube videos and information about tracks and artists you never would have heard of otherwise. These can be a great way to discover what’s hot right now. Some of these places are really switched on and serious music journalist as well as radio hosts turn to them to see who’s worth writing or talking about. Why not join them and cut out the middleman? You could be discovering tomorrow’s greatest stars before your favourite radio shows!