The Five Best Services To Discover New Music: A DJ’s Perspective
I remember a time when I would aimlessly listen to the radio, content to hear the same old songs on repeat. And while I certainly love listening to songs I already know, there is something that I love even more: finding new music. But the process of discovering new music is potentially arduous, especially if you are at a loss for where to go. As a DJ, I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve been asked, “So, Michael, how do you find new music? Like, where does it all come from?”
To those people, I say this: I wish that the list I just made had been available whenever you asked me - I’m sorry. ...But better late than never, right?
This list is not ranked, per se. However, I am definitely putting this socially-oriented service first because it is the one I am the most in love with. In essence, Spotify is like a version of iTunes where you don’t have to actually buy the songs. Every time you click a song, it plays without being stopped. In other words, the “preview” does not exist in this world. Perhaps the only downside is that the premium, ad-free version has a monthly fee of $10. But that $10 gets you access to their mobile application (which is excellent). Nevertheless, the free version is worth giving a try.
Spotify’s notable features include:
- Radio (with Pandora-esque features)
- Built-in applications (Smart applications to make finding new music even easier)
- Facebook integration (it’s a great way to share and make playlists with friends)
- The ability to save any song you like in playlists
Beloved by college students everywhere, Pandora is a classic music-discovery tool that is simple and effective. Though not as sophisticated (on the surface) as Spotify, Pandora definitely holds its own. The free version of the service is indeed ad-supported, but the premium version is only $4/month and offers some serious upgrades from the free iteration (higher quality audio, no ads).
Pandora’s notable features include:
- A highly-intelligent radio
- Pretty good mobile application that is free (unlike Spotify’s app)
- Clean, simple user interface
8 Tracks is another great tool to find music. The playlists they put out are carefully crafted, and users are encouraged to make their own to share with friends. Friends have told me that it is particularly. The site is free, but it does (like its competitors) offer a premium version, which is still developing. Currently, though, the premium service will cost you $50/year (or a little over $4/month).
8Tracks’ notable features include:
- A highly-rated mobile application
- Very effective tagging (i.e. it’s very easy to select playlists based off of moods)
- Easy to share playlists with friends via other platforms like Facebook and Twitter
Most people go to YouTube to find a specific song (or video), but there is one feature that many users have been embracing for a very long time: videoplaylists. And while finding a good channel to grab a playlist from can be a bit difficult, it is worth it once you do find one. One of the downsides of the other sites on the list is that they, for the most part, only stream licensed content. However, as we here at Campus Vinyl BucknellU are so intimately aware, many artists do not have their music published in such a way that they can appear on these services. Instead, they go to places like Youtube (and the next service I’m going to talk about) to release their music. So, the next time you’re on YouTube, try typing in a song you like, and then clicking the channel that uploaded the song in the first place. You never know what you might discover.
YouTube’s advantages (you probably know the features already):
- Many popular channels have great video playlists
- Music that is not released through labels almost always appears on YouTube
- The description boxes underneath specific songs/videos oftentimes have links to download the song.
These days, music-makers know that Soundcloud is king. Nearly every artist with any kind of online presence (read: most) has their tracks on Soundcloud. Like YouTube, it is open to everyone, so music from unsigned talent thoroughly populates Soundcloud. Within Soundcloud, there are thousands upon thousands of groups to join, which almost always feature an orientation towards a particular kind of music/mood. The groups, however, get very specific. For example, there is even an “Atlanta Dubstep” group. The premium version of soundcloud is oriented more towards artists who are uploading music, so the free version should do for most.
Soundcloud’s notable features include:
- A concrete player (songs keep playing even if you are exploring around the site)
- The ability to see comments of other people on the songs you’re enjoying
- Perhaps the strongest, best organized collection of unsigned music on the internet
...And there you have it! Five great services to find new music. For the obsessive music listeners out there, you know that there are definitely services that were not detailed here (beatport, for example). Nevertheless this is still a solid list of easily-accessible ways to find new music. And as someone who is constantly driven to discover new music, I’ve found that using a combination of each of these services is the best way to find new tracks. I am unapologetic about my habit of starting out on Spotify, and then jumping over to one of these other services, because it has helped me create the soundtrack to my life (and many parties) for the last four years.
Now go! Try out the sites that you haven’t. You know you want to.