Since the dawn of the internet, music across the globe has become more available than it was ever before. While not as tasking (or romantic) as digging through old crates of vinyl and CDs in music shops, discovering music online sans the help of Spotify’s algorithms is its own kind of process. But once you get the hang of it, you wouldn’t go a day of your life without something new or exciting to listen to. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way.
This still surprises me to this day, but Facebook is my number one source for both new and old music. Facebook allows you to tap into the knowledge of music-lovers from all around the world, and it’s a platform much more accessible to the casual fan. The key here is to join groups dedicated to specific artists or genres. In those groups, you’ll find threads on topics where users would give out the recommendations in the comment sections of the thread (plus, the memes in these groups are usually top-notch). Patrician Music Chartposting is my go-to-group for discovering music (it’s a closed group, but they’ll accept anyone as long as you follow the group guidelines). Hot tip: Reddit pretty much works in the same way.
Discord has a ton of channels dedicated to any genre you can think of. It’s a great way to stay updated on what’s happening in the music world or stumble upon the quirky, obscure digs of a random user. A user can be passive in these channels, but don’t hesitate to start conversations or ask for recommendations from other users! Another cool thing about Discord is the capability of holding listening parties that anyone can join, so you can instantly listen to what other users are listening to. My go-to channel is The Deep Cuts Discord.
Aggregator sites compile the reviews of various music publications for both new and old records. While it’s easy to visit the actual sites of these publications (Pitchfork, NME, Consequence of Sound, etc.) you can also look through sites like Metacritic or Album of the Year to get an overview of the critical opinion on a certain record. I personally prefer Album of the Year because it’s completely dedicated to music and it gives the user the option to look at the most critically-acclaimed albums of a particular genre from a specific year or even all-time. These sites are also a great way to discover albums loved by critics but unfortunately flew under the radar of the general public.
YouTube comments (yes, really)
While the YouTube algorithm can occasionally bust out gems in the recommended section, the site usually recommends videos based on popularity. My number one tip for discovering music on Youtube is to CHECK THE COMMENT SECTIONS. What you do is go load up a song or artist you like on Youtube and check the comments for any suggestions from random users. There’s bound to be a handful of “oh this sounds like ____” comments and I can’t count how many bands or songs I’ve discovered this way. Also, there are lots of music review channels on YouTube and are definitely more digestible than the written reviews of more traditional music publications (shoutout to Lord Fantano).
A lot of budding artists start out by uploading their music for free on Soundcloud or Bandcamp so they remain valuable if you want to stay ahead of the curb. Soundcloud’s search and recommendation algorithm is also the best that I’ve used. All you have to do is play the station of a song or artist you like and Soundcloud generally does a good job of playing back songs with a similar vibe. Bandcamp is a bit trickier to dig through than Soundcloud, but its catalogue is far superior.