The Musical Discovery Meta-Thread

There‘s been some great discussion here re: specific music recommendations, but what I’m interested here is having a place to share some recommendations for how, when, where, why, and/or from whom one might seek out new music. This was in part inspired by my recent reminiscing about the now defunct Other Music record store in NYC, partly by @“captain”#258 ‘s whispered musings, and partly by a general feeling that, despite all the advances in technology, I often feel that truly exciting and inspiring stuff is more elusive than ever. Here’s a few sources (of varying quality and success) in no particular order:

  • -

    Algorithmic recommendations (e.g. Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, etc.). Terrible! Just terrible. For every legitimately interesting artist I discover through one of these services, there's so much insipid Ad-dollar generated junk to wade through. I got along very well for years with just my personal (offline) iTunes library and eventually dabbled in the actually pretty excellent and refreshingly minimalist Rdio online service, before the latter was purchased by Apple and shuttered as part of the gradual march toward the current state of affairs. A service like Spotify or YT Music should be excellent for discovery, in theory, given the sheer size of the user base and catalogue, but in reality it has become an obtuse wall of Top 40 releases, podcast recommendations, algorithmically generated playlists, and just an exhausting jumble of noise with only occasional blips of signal in there. However…

  • -

    YouTube compilations: I consider this one separate from the above, as I am specifically referring to multi-hour mixes created by various YouTube channels, typically compiling game music but occasionally specific musical genres (there's some decent City Pop primers out there). This doesn't exactly address the larger problem, but in the specific niche of video game music I've found some real gems. Sadly, these videos can be quite ephemeral (especially if Nintendo music is involved) and may be subject to content strikes. A partial remedy is official music channels on these services (which Square and Falcom have, thankfully, been embracing), but it loses the user curated aspect of these playlists.

  • -

    Music review websites: In college I was a religious reader of Pitchfork (I know....I know), though it feels like this site gradually slipped into self-parody and eventually irrelevance. I don't know if that's actually true, but I can't remember the last time I've actively visited this site (or any other music review site, for that matter), so please tell me if I'm missing something here!

  • -

    Independent music reviewers/vloggers: I went through an Anthony Fantano phase, which similarly waned. I honestly can't even remember a single artist that I discovered specifically through watching his videos. Again, no shade on him (he earns the _internet's busiest music nerd_ moniker, for sure), but this was ultimately kind of a blip on my musical journey and I don't think I could name another similar personality in the YT space.

  • -

    Bandcamp: Hopefully this service isn't somehow _Spofifized_ by the Epic Megagames purchase, but it certainly gives me an uneasy feeling. This platform definitely has potential for music discovery (e.g. website features, exploring what other users have purchased or listen to), but I tend to think of it and use it more as a storefront for artists and labels, so it's only been a modest source of truly new and interesting experiences. Speaking of labels, that brings me to:

  • -

    Indie labels: This has been a decent source of inspiration for me, actually. For example, I keep an eye on what [Light in the Attic Records](https://lightintheattic.net/) is releasing or reprinting through their mailing list. I've subscribed to mailing lists for a few labels through Bandcamp, as well, but that's starting to weigh a bit heavily on my inbox tbh.

  • -

    Brick and mortar record shops: The aforementioned Other Music in NYC was actually pretty great for discovering new stuff--there would always be little index cards affixed to the shelves below some of the new releases and employee picks, which often piqued my interest. I remember picking up a Shintaro Sakamoto single, for example, based on one of these, and who knows if or when I would have been exposed to his music otherwise! This shop closed years ago now, sadly, and I haven't really found anything that quite captures that vibe (though I'll admit I haven't been looking that hard...who wants to "go" to "places" any more, anyway?).

  • -

    Soundcloud: This service is a beautiful and terrible mess and I'm not sure if I have the energy to unpack it right now, though I will say that I've somehow stumbled upon some of my favorite music through this crazy service. If nothing else, I'm grateful that I discovered the Future Funk genre, if only so that I could _backwards_ discover City Pop and leave behind the former for the latter (if that makes any sense lol).

  • Well, speaking of messes, this has been a real ramble...anyone else have some music recommendation recommendations? Alternatively, feel free to lament the current state of affairs and reminisce about the "good old days," such as they were...

    This is a great idea for a thread. I'll start with a few favorites:

    1.Fond Sound (https://www.fondsound.com/)
    Blog by Diego Olivas. Reflections and mixes, mostly lesser-known Japanese and otherwise East Asian ambient/new age/ folk/electronic music. His posts are always great little reflections on unsung, intriguing minor artists. Just buckets of great stuff here, and often he is the first/only person who has put it on the English-speaking Internet.

    2.Listen To This (http://www.listentothis.info/)
    Music blog run by Jen Monroe, includes reflections/retrospectives on artists and these mixes that she also puts on NTS (which, NTS is in itself an amazing way to find new music). Her mixes sometimes focus on a single artist (she did cool ones on Robbie Basho and Yoko Kanno, respectively), but more often they're eclectic and lined with rare gems from around the world.

    My personal favorite was an episode that was largely made up of Russian choral music:
    http://www.listentothis.info/2020/10/mix-for-nts-radio-getting-warmer-episode-48/

    3.Cokemachineglow (http://cokemachineglow.com/)

    No longer updating (RIP), but this was my favorite music blog for a long time. If Pitchfork is IGN, cokemachineglow was insertcredit (!). Their [albums of the 2000s list](http://cokemachineglow.com/category/top-100-albums-of-the-2000s/) is my favorite of its kind, and all their year-end lists were full of intriguing picks. The writing was more heartfelt and interesting that most music sites, too. (PS. Their namesake, Gordon Downie's album [Coke Machine Glow](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5mBfj3gMRE), is a great listen).

    4.Passion of Weiss (https://www.passionweiss.com/)

    Maybe this isn't obscure, but this is the best hip-hop website that I know of. If you want to know rap's past, present, and future, this is a great place to hang out.

    5.Tiny Mix Tapes (https://www.tinymixtapes.com/)

    Again, maybe people already know about this one, and also it's sadly dead (RIP), but this was my go-to for finding weird, cool music for a long time. Their reviews, lists, and mixes are worth combing through, but if I had to pick one favorite from them it was their 2013 Holiday Mixes, [one done by their staff writers](https://www.tinymixtapes.com/features/2013-chocolate-grinder-mix-writers) and [one done by artists](https://www.tinymixtapes.com/features/2013-chocolate-grinder-mix-artists) (which, hey, includes a song from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance). Both are wild rides.

    Alright, that's what I got for now. I love sources/lists of music almost more than I like music itself sometimes, which is maybe weird but oh well.

    That‘s a puzzle. Since you mentioned my comment I’ll explain how I‘ve been discovering stuff lately (though as alluded to in my comment I am really just figuring a lot of basic stuff out… don’t listen to me!)

    I had an interesting experience reading your bullet points just now going "Well, you could also—oh kory did that already." Most of my recent interesting discoveries have been through my local independent record store, [Armageddon Records](http://www.armageddonshop.com/about.php), which I know you're suffering from the absence of such a shop and my intention isn't to brag: I bring it up because I thought they mainly carried genres I don't really care for (hardcore, metal), but going inside the place I found they had a lot of other stuff too (which I would have found out had I read their website first...). All that is to say...

    >

    though I’ll admit I haven’t been looking that hard…who wants to “go” to “places” any more, anyway?

    ...I recommend you "go" "places"!!! Places are good! I didn't think this place would appeal to me at all but when I visited NY last spring my friend took me to [Limited to One Records](https://g.page/limitedtoonenyc?share), a hardcore/punk place that only sells vinyl, but I took some pictures of interesting-looking LPs and was able to find them streaming online (my friend bought something so I didn't feel like too much of a leech...)

    Another good place to go is THE LIBRARY! :D The last city I lived in had a [library system](https://www.bm-reims.fr/Default/bib-jean-falala.aspx) with incredible CD collections, and I loved to go every week and borrow a stack; their selection was so good I could just pick albums I thought had cool art and usually came out with something interesting. If you do not or no longer have a CD-playing machine (for [some reason](https://forums.insertcredit.com/d/8-a-thread-in-which-to-introduce-oneself/1153) I doubt this...), they are usually pretty cheap second-hand and I would say worth getting if you find cool stuff at the library.

    Look up some radio stations. Even if they aren't local so many stations now stream their stuff online (I... need to take my own advice on this one). Recently I found [fip radio](https://www.fip.fr/rock/webradio), which has been cool. I haven't fallen in love with anything/kept track of anything I heard on it but it's probably a matter of time.

    I guess the common element for me among the discovery methods so far are a sense of human-opinion-driven curation. That being said...

    I have had a lot of luck with the Spotify algorithm (continuing to boast of my good fortune), although the range of things it recommends can be kind of narrow. For some reason I haven't educated myself much about how the algorithm works and have been pretty pararnoid about avoiding letting songs play that I don't want to feed into it—I wonder if [concentrated manipulation/work](https://www.shortlist.com/news/spotify-discover-weekly-hacks-tips-new-music) could get it to perform better for you or anyone having trouble (same goes for Apple, YouTube). I've managed to somehow tune it such that it recommends at least a few things I like every week or two. ||(I do have to roll my eyes every time it recommends me yet another Radiohead song arranged for chamber orchestra)||

    [size=6]also currently in planning stages to [get rid of spotify](https://inthesetimes.com/article/spotify-military-industrial-complex-daniel-ek-prima-materia-helsing)[/size]

    Reading about music has turned me onto stuff in the past. I don't mean reviews/news coverage; reading Kim Gordon's autobiography is what made me want to sit down with Sonic Youth. Although this obviously only works with "canon" stuff and is maybe antithetical to a more authentic feeling of discovery. On the subject of reviews/general info, where are the underground fanzines at?

    Lately I've had success paying attention to record labels, like you mentioned. Bandcamp apparently even has a label subscription feature. I haven't subscribed to anyone but I've considered it for [Topshelf Records](https://topshelfrecords.bandcamp.com/) (which I discovered [because of you](https://forums.insertcredit.com/d/348-the-non-japanese-east-asian-music-thread/39)).

    I used to skim a lot of year-end lists, which I still would say can be a good starting point (though has its limits, it goes without saying). The trick is finding list-writers who you want to give the time of day to. Something as simple as looking at non-American lists can yield interesting results. Clicking on rando lists on Rate Your Music can also work, though as with every one of these other points... it depends. I've come across interesting stuff sampling Fantano's year-end lists (I think I'm on the sputtering tail-end of my Fantano phase). I have discovered some groups I really liked that way

    in short:

  • - browse the music threads on Insert Credit
  • - go to the library
  • i find cool music i probably wouldn‘t’ve found otherwise on my local jazz radio station, particularly their new jazz for lunch show, (which i always call nude jazz for lunch.)

    >

    @“kory”#p62028 Algorithmic recommendations (e.g. Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, etc.). Terrible! Just terrible. For every legitimately interesting artist I discover through one of these services, there’s so much insipid Ad-dollar generated junk to wade through.

    I think this is largely dependant on the genres and styles you are interested in. If you focus on niches, the generated playlists can be pretty good! For example I use Apple Music, and mostly listen to metal (melodic death, black, thrash, and some good ol' cheesy power), drum and bass, industrial, psytrance, psydub, and jazz. I can have a pretty good time going to any artist in my collection and hitting the "start station" button and just letting it autoplay for hours.

    I would expect Spotify and the other services do something similar, but there are also staff-curated "editor" playlists that are updated weekly. The "New Metal" editor playlist is good to have a look over every week, there'll usually be one or two tracks in there from an artist I'm interested in.

    For drum and bass in particular, there is new a fairly decent scene of DJs on Twitch. On a whim I thought to browse the "music" category on twitch and found one or two people playing drum and bass. Some of them have text up on screen displaying the artist and title of the currently playing track, others will answer if you ask in chat (or have a bot command to do so). Also, one of the large (for the genre!) record labels, Hospital Records, has a podcast they put out which is usually about an hour of music and can be a good way to keep up with some new artists or releases. It's obviously primarily a marketing tool for them, but they don't only play music from their own label.

    Another way I discover music, and I appreciate that this is not easily fixable if not in place already, is having a few friends interested in the same niches as me. If someone comes across a new album they like, a message will go around recommending it.

    In the Before Times, I found a handful of bands that I ended up rather liking by being sure to turn up early to gigs I was going to and watching the support acts. Also not an extremely practical recommendation anymore, apologies.

    Also in the Before Times, when I would be in an office every day, we often had Fip Radio streaming and that was pretty dang cool.

    @“rearnakedwindow”#p62049 woooow thank you for reminding me about Coke Machine Glow! an acquaintance of mine wrote for them for a while (Joel Elliott), and i used to read that site religiously. awesome.

    i'll tell you what though, @"kory"#525 - i still look at pitchfork pretty much every day. i don't pay much attention to their review scores, but it is still a great resource for finding four-five albums every day that i might not have otherwise heard about, and if it's showing up on pitchfork, it's proooobably at least worth checking out? even if i don't end up enjoying it. i dunno.

    and i hate to stan for Apple, but like @"rejj"#455 said, i've had pretty good success on there whenever i listen to electronic or jazz or old-timey country music playlists (which is mainly what i listen to on there these days).

    The main outlets I have for discovery these days


  • - the buddy system: I have one (1) friend who has startlingly similar tastes to me with whom I swap recommendations with pretty often. It is the most reliable source to have a trusted musical confidant.
  • - other people have mentioned it but still, The Radio: particularly college or independent stations. Maybe you don't have a radio, or maybe you don't have a car with a radio, but I highly recommend chucking on a station for a few hours even if you have to do it online. See if there are programs in the schedule that gel with you and look forward to them. For most of 2021 I listened to the same thrash metal show every Wednesday at 3, coincidentally when I left work. Radio stations are also great to check in with on social media or their websites. DJs usually post playlists and sometimes entire recorded shows that you can comb through.
  • - See what artists you currently like are listening to: this isn't an incredibly streamlined or established method. However, I've come across some of my favorite artists just by reading/watching/listening to interviews with artists that I already like. Sometimes they name-drop someone and I listen to it and just couldn't care less. Sometimes, it's the best and I listen to their album for months on repeat. It's very interesting to me as well to see how stark the contrast between what an artist makes and listens to.
  • - this isn't even a dead site but a dead app. I dearly remember the music social media app Cymbal. It was just people posting songs. There were barely any ads and just a goldmine of hidden gems. You'd click play on your feed and just get a playlist picked by the people you follow, embedded from streaming. I haven't found anything nearly like that, but it was nice while it lasted.
  • - Pay attention: the best music discovery tool is just to notice stuff. Shazam the song playing at a hotel lobby or click play on a music video that looks hideous. I think most of the best discoveries I've made have been from really inane sources, up to and including Facebook ads. I apologize for the white guy wearing flip-flops of this bullet point, but I sincerely believe in the power of taking note of an artist that sounds weird and digging into their discography when you find that scrap of paper while you panic clean your room in the middle of the night.
  • Thank you everyone for your recs! I‘m still combing through these, but I’m glad a couple people mentioned radio stations, as this has been a surprisingly fruitful experience for me as of late. With the advent of online music stores (and eventually all-encompassing services like Spotify) I, like many others, pretty much abandoned radio, eventually wondering why one would need any curation if you have constant and immediate access to the (almost, but not really) totality of the corpus of music. Turns out, it's really important to let someone “take the wheel” and jostle you out of your comfort zone once in a while. As I write this, this sentiment seems almost laughably obvious, but I suppose it speaks to my passive frustration with my musical stagnation (which, I admit, I am absolutely at least in part to blame for).

    In particular, I've been listening to one of my local college stations ([WFUV](https://wfuv.org/)), which can skew pretty mainstream, but is a nice mix of comfort food music and a decent amount of non-comfort-zone material. Most importantly, it's great to hear an actual DJ's voice commenting on the musical choices. I don't listen to this one as much as I should, but [New Sounds](https://www.newsounds.org/) on the NY public radio station has been an amazing source of deep dives into artists and genres well beyond my usual scope.

    archived wfmu shows, following record labels I like, and physically going to the record store and noting whatever looks interesting those are my methods

    I check out gorillavsbear once in while, because it‘s not a lot of bs, it’s just: “here's music we like” and they line up decently with my tastes. Speaking of to-the-point stuff. I like these little 10 second reviews. It‘s basically like if Tim’s video reviews were just the bottom line:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYPeQBB7rO8

    i just remembered i follow a few youtube channels that post a lot of music

    https://youtube.com/channel/UC7shUDSkHjuQNegPhGdANQQ

    https://youtube.com/c/EmmaZoiaputsprettygoodmusiconYoutube

    https://youtube.com/c/FelipePintoFolkloreyTangoArgentino

    https://youtube.com/channel/UCrft_vxJ4Du7Vrv5Tjz_FiA

    https://youtube.com/user/WestCoastEaglesFan

    https://youtube.com/c/%CE%91%CF%80%CF%8C%CE%BB%CE%BB%CF%89%CE%BD%CE%98%CE%B7%CF%81%CE%B5%CF%85%CF%84%CE%AE%CF%82758

    https://youtube.com/channel/UC1XZnCGpOyxkc2CNobrzQcw

    wfmu, kexp, audiotree and a lot of other radio stations/youtube channels that record and upload live performances are great to discover medium-big indie arists. For smaller artists I follow a ton of indie labels. I also follow some blogs and music sites.

    I like this one: https://www.smallalbums.com

    Every couple of weeks I also check the last.fm profiles of friends with similar music taste who listen to way more music than I do, just to see what they‘ve been listening to and I find a lot of cool stuff that way (don’t tell them I do that, it's a little bit embarrassing)

    that's pretty much how I stay up to date with music I think

    somafm.com plays a lot of really great music in really cool channels. i love “Secret Agent Radio” which plays a mix of bossa, lounge, and spy movie chase themes. their vaporwave and reggae stations are great too

    one method that was really successful for me was to be 16, have no responsibilities, live with my parents, work at the frozen custard stand for minimum wage, every two weeks drive over to pick up my paycheck, walk across the street and cash it, fill up my car with gas next door, then drive up the street a quarter mile and blow the rest on metal CDs. i still listen to a lot of bands i discovered this way

    in all seriousness hope it isn't derailing the thread too much to ask if anyone else has mostly lost interest in discovering new music. there are a few artists whose output i continue to follow (sometimes out of morbid curiosity), but i'm mostly content to just enjoy stuff i've listened to a zillion times. i get into maybe one new band every two years. i think part of it is not having much time, due to life circumstances, to just be by myself and listen to music. i'm mostly into metal and no one in my life really wants to listen to it lol. and when i do have that time i'm eager to spend it on other stuff sadly

    As lame as it may be, AllMusic.com and Wikipedia genre pages have been my go to, at least when I'm just getting into a thing. Then following people and labels once I know what I like in a thing, especially in stuff like Jazz and Hip Hop where people tend to move around a lot and collaborate with different people all the time.

    >

    @“tapevulture”#p62254 in all seriousness hope it isn’t derailing the thread too much to ask if anyone else has mostly lost interest in discovering new music.

    i certainly have. i used to go digging for music, now i'm a filter feeder. generally, i care for music less than i used to.

    rateyourmusic - specifically looking up an album that I like and then finding the very hyper specific genre labels, clicking on them, and finding other albums under this genre. Last album I found was Klaus Schulze's “X”, which the website has listed as “berlin school”, whatever that means.

    youtube comments - I listen to music on youtube and usually the comments are actually good and will sometimes recommend other things to listen to. this is how I found out about David Bowie listening to Edgar Froese's "Epsilon in Malaysian Pale" when he first moved to Berlin (I was looking up a Tangerine Dream album), one of the few pieces of music that has made me sob uncontrollably because of how beautiful it sounds

    antique stores - I bought a fucking Tape Deck recently and so when I'm in the local Antique mall or music store, I hunt for tapes. This is how I listened to Tin Machine (proto grunge music) and Yaz's "You and Me Both", but also I'm just really happy to find old hair metal and rock tapes. Yeah I can listen to Judas Priest's "Screaming For Justice" any time, but on a tape? hmm, it's different (worse) in some way. It's nice to enjoy the literal B side of albums and hear some really good music from bands I like, that I wouldn't find other wise.