Finding New Music

I’m always looking for new music. I currently have almost two gigs of music to listen to and filter through before potentially adding it to my playlist. on average, for every 30 songs I listen to only one makes it to my “probably good” folder. Weeks or months later I make a pass through that folder and do a second review and weed out even more. If I had to guess, I’d say that maybe one out of 100 songs get added to my playlist. there are three main ways I find new music:

1) A long while back, I ran across MusicPlasma which let you discover new music artists based on ones you knew and liked. by mapping bands based on similar styles, one could find that if they liked Portishead they may also like Goldfrapp. Since then, there have been other sites that do the same thing in different ways or with new features. The latest I ran across is Musicovery which not only does this, but does it by song and streams the song to you to hear. They also let you search and explore based on mood; dark, calm, energetic, or positive.

One may question these sites when you pick a mix of dark/calm electro and go from Asian Dub Foundation’s “Hypocrite” to Bjork’s “Oceania”. Not exactly what I had in mind for “kind of dark electro”, but the songs they offer seem a bit limited. Fourth song from my start point is a band I have a considerable amount of on the playlist and the next hop is Portishead. Some potential here. Downside: jumping around to the next song isn’t intuitive, as the site seemingly redraws/reshapes your map as you move on and no obvious “next” functionality.

2) When I travel, I usually opt for the Sirius satellite radio in the rental car, especially if I will be driving quite a bit (like this trip). Ideally, I want a stereo with a display that shows the artist and song title, and I keep pen and paper ready for frenzied high speed driving using only my knee to steer as I write down the title. For this trip, no such luck with the stereo, so I have two pages of poorly scrawled lyric segments in the hopes I can google up the song info. Sirius offers channels based on themes and they are somewhat granular. Rather than offer a single channel with “electronic” that lumps in all related genres, they have channels 33 (Trance & Progressive House), 34 (Breakbeats/Old Skool), 35 (Smooth Electronic), 36 (Dance Hits) and 37 (Disco/Classic Dance). I keep it on Chill 35 and rarely channel surf to the others, and I end up finding several new bands each trip I take. Downside: their web site doesn’t publish their playlist in any form so I can’t see who was playing at 10:53a on Tuesday when I was doing 80 down I-495 and unable to write down many lyrics of the song.

3) I subscribe to Rolling Stone, Blender, Spin and Synthesis. in the back of each ‘zine they review some new music each issue. The downside is that the first three only cover relatively mainstream music and you can see the influence of the record labels. Many no talent assclown bands get their music in it and forced down the public’s throat. The upside is that the reviews are written by folks with a lot of exposure to music and (generally) the ability to convey a good feel of what the band is like. This falls short sometimes when you can read half a dozen reviews and not even know if the lead singer is male or female, but know where the band got their name. The last on this list, Synthesis, is bi-monthly but tends to cover a lot more obscure bands and I highly recommend you grab this rag.

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