The infinite catalog of music, new and old, is a both a blessing and a curse. While music fans unfortunately have to accept that they will never be able to listen to every band, album or song, retreating to the comfort of your personal music library is no way to find your next favorite artist.
Spotify‘s latest curation features, Browse and Discover, are a push in the right direction, andRdio integrates music discovery into its top-notch app with subtle recommendations from listeners in your network placed all over the player.
These streaming services’ social features aren’t the only ways to discover new music, but they tap into what’s key about successful music suggestions today: social curation.
If you are on the lookout for new tunes, try these seven websites and apps that are perfect for social music discovery.
How do you find new music? Share your method in the comments.
Instead of finding individual songs and artists, on Mixcloud you’ll find mixes and radio shows by DJs — both amateur and professional — that weave in and out of genres and styles. In the end, it brings you music you might never have heard otherwise.
Search for mixes by tag (genre or artist name will usually do the trick, but tags can get fairly creative) or follow users to find out when they upload, favorite or listen to a new mix. Recommended users include FACT Magazine Mix Archive, Diplo and Friends on BBC1 and The Quietus.
After you press play on the mix, all the work on your end is done. If you enjoyed the mix, poke around the page to find the tracklisting, genre tags, sidebars with recommended people to follow, other mixes listeners enjoyed, and a similar mix that is already queued up for your listening pleasure.
You know that feeling. You might be out dancing at club, driving in a car, listening to your iPod on shuffle. Then a song comes on — that song. You cannot do anything else but pump your arm in the air and shout, “This is my jam!” Well, that’s exactly TIMJ, just on the Internet.
In beta, This Is My Jam asks you to proudly share your favorite song of the moment — or the week, more precisely, since jams expire after seven days. You can explore similar and suggested songs based on your current jam in the sidebar and a related section. Through these recommended picks, you can find other jammers who are also jammin’ a similar jam.
The homepage shows a feed of the active jams of users you follow, which you can listen to through a sleek bottom-bar player. You can also comment on and favorite all user’s jams to make new friends, and maybe even bounce off music recs.
In addition to being a great way to buy music from independent artists, Bandcamp helps you find music you want to support.
Its Discover section lets you toggle between different genres, tags, available formats and recommendations (including staff picks, best-selling and artist-recommended), and opens up endless browsing possibilities.
Bandcamp’s homepage is filled with curation, from features on Bandcamp artists, to fan spotlights, to “Bandcamp Weekly,” which highlights new music. Bandcamp’s fan pages let users display their purchases and wish lists, write a description about their favorite tracks from one of those purchases, and follow artists and other fans to stay up-to-date on what people are listening to.
While Last.fm has been around since 2002 (or forever, in Internet terms), its music discovery and recommendation tools are only getting better. In the last year, its music recs feel even more spot on than ever.
Organized in tiles at the top your dashboard, the recommendation section takes what you have been listening to (your Last.fm “scrobbles”) and offers suggestions based on that data while noting which artists you like that are similar. The expanded recommendations page offers even more options to sort through, such as tags, related artists, new releases and some free downloads. You can better the odds of a helpful recommendation by removing artists in which you know you’re not interested.
Plus, Last.fm makes it even easier for you: Listen to its radio station based on your recommendations.
Of course, Last.fm’s social features are still rife with discovery possibilities. Find your friends to see what they’re scrobbling now (feel free to make fun of them if you catch them listening to something that ruins their credibility), check out gigs happening in your area and invite your friends.
5. Hype Machine
Despite its name, Hype Machine circumvents the so-called hype machine of the major music press to bring you what’s being shared across all music sites right now. In the span of a few songs, you could find a crazy EDM remix next to a folksy ballad, DIY punk single and a glitchy electronic track.
It’s those remixes that thrive on Hype Machine — some users may not exactly create them with artist permission and are instead mixed by amateur DJs. As a result, they might not receive the attention they’d deserve on a standard music website. Hype Machine offers “Remixes Only” and “No Remixes” filters on its Popular page.
Like most websites, Hype Machine offers easy social sharing options to build the hype on your favorite song.
There’s no better place to find new music than in a record store. Record shop employees are some of the most knowledgeable, nicest people you’ll ever meet, and are happy for you to pick their brains about music recommendations and the latest releases.
Unsure of where your local store is, or in an unfamiliar town? Find the stop nearest you with The Vinyl District’s record store locator app. It uses your phone’s GPS to find the closest record shop, with updates, tips and directory improvements added by users. Plus, users can check in to shops and post statuses about their visits to the social feed.
The app also features a section that lists upcoming record and music fairs happening all around the globe. It’s part-Yelp, part-community listing board for record stores.
Follow music publications and writers whose tastes seem to align with yours (or be adventurous and follow someone with different tastes), and check out the artists they’re tweeting about. It’s their jobs to stay on top of the latest on the music scene, which is a valuable resource. NPR Music and All Songs Considered are perfect stepping stones. They cover a range of independent and major label music, and NPR’s “First Listen” lets you hear new music before it’s on the physical or digital shelves. Pitchfork Advance lets you do the same, accompanied by full-screen art from the release.
And those who make music are also big fans of musicians, and often tweet about their favorite new listens or touring buds. Flying Lotus and Four Tet are as enthusiastic music fans as they are talented and innovative producers. The Talkhouse highlights musicians writing about new releases, giving interesting insight that’s been previously unexplored and might resonate with fans who aren’t into traditional music blogs.
By Marissa Cetin