Have you ever found yourself stuck listening to the same sort of music on a loop with absolutely no idea how to break the cycle and discover new tunes? I’ve been there. I used to find myself in that position all the time and honestly I was getting sick of never discovering anything new. Since I know that it’s something that so many of us find ourselves struggling with, I’m sharing my ultimate top tips on HOW and WHERE to find new music. Seriously…you’ll come out of this as a music-discovering-pro, I promise.
First…What Music Are You Hoping To Discover?
Before I get to my tips I think it’s important to quickly think about what it is exactly that you’re hoping to get out of new music. Is it a new genre that you’re looking to discover? Is it more musicians in your favourite genre? Or is it a specific playlist that you’re searching for, for a certain mood e.g. a chilled playlist, a party playlist. Maybe it’s all of them! Once you know exactly what you’re looking for it’s a lot easier to start searching.
Right, so… do you know what you’re looking for now? Okay, let’s get to it then!
Music Streaming Services
The best place to start is by thinking about what you’re currently using to listen to music. For most of us this will probably be some sort of music streaming service. And when it comes to finding new music, streaming services are a brilliant starting point.
Are you an Apple Music user, a Spotify fan or do you use something else? Personally I use Spotify premium (you can follow me on there if you want here) and I’ve used it for the last 4 years or so. Getting Spotify premium was a huge game changer for me when it came to developing my interest in and knowledge of music. If you’re looking to join a music streaming service then I’d 100% recommend going with Spotify.
Music Streaming Services: Spotify ‘ Daily Mix’ Feature
One of my favourite things about Spotify is just how easy it is to find new music. Spotify will make up their own playlists tailored to what you’ve been listening to, which are called your ‘daily mixes’. A lot of the songs in your daily mixes will be tracks that you already listen to, but Spotify also throws in a few tracks by similar artists, as well as songs that you haven’t listened to by the artists that you do listen to (if that makes sense). So, say for example you listen to Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin all the time, Spotify will include that in your daily mix but they also might add in Black Dog or Ramble On (both Led Zep). Get the gist?
Music Streaming Services: Spotify ‘Fans Also Like’ Feature
Another favourite aspect of Spotify for me is the ‘fans also like’ section which pops up when you click on a specific artist. Let’s take Harry Styles for example. He’s one of the biggest names in music (26th in the world according to Spotify!) so you’re probably thinking that when you click on the ‘fans also like’ section on his profile it’ll just be loads of other big names that you already know. And to a certain extent that is true. You get the other 4 members of One Direction and loads of other big name pop acts. But you also get Declan McKenna, who has around 8% of the amount of monthly listeners that Harry Styles does.
Do the same thing on Declan McKenna’s profile and you’ll find bands like Vistas who have 20% of Declan McKenna’s listeners. Then do the same again and you’ll find a band called High Tyde who have 8% of Vistas listeners. 4 clicks on Spotify and you’ve gone from a musician with 44m monthly views to a band with 52k monthly views. Pretty easy right?
Music Streaming Services: Spotify Specific Genre Playlists
Then you’ve also got playlists that are pre-made by Spotify and focus on a specific genre. I find that these playlists are ideal if you’re just looking to learn about a certain genre. For example, you might remember me going on about how much I love the Bossa Nova Spotify playlist in my post about how I’m spending my time at the moment. All I had to do to find it was a quick Spotify search for Bossa Nova as well!
What’s so great about the pre-made genre playlists is 1. how theres a mix of big names in the genre and up-and-coming artists too and 2. how much they flow as playlists. You can shuffle one of their genre playlists without any fear that a completely random track will come on in the midst of your chilled vibe. If you want to discover some ready made gems then head on over to my favourite Spotify playlists post for a few recommendations.
Look At Reviews
Looking at reviews from newspapers, news sites and music websites is one of the easiest ways to discover new music. There are so many sites and resources out there that’ll tell you all about the latest releases. If you’re a complete newbie to reading music reviews then don’t worry. I’ll be sharing a few of my favourite places to read reviews in a sec. But first I want to talk about why reviews are a great way to source new tunes.
The biggest appeal of a review is that they give you an outline of what to expect from a song/album in advance. Maybe you’ve heard of a musician but haven’t had time to listen to their stuff yet. An album will set you back around 45 minutes if you listen to it in full. And if you aren’t feeling the music by the end of it then it can feel like a waste of time! Trust me I’ve felt like this on a few occasions.
Whereas a review will take like what? 5 minutes tops to read. It’ll give you an idea of what to expect from the music, a general rating of how good the album is (in the opinion of the reviewer) and what they think are the best tracks on the album. If you’re sat reading a review and thinking bloody hell that song/album sounds awful!! then at least you’ve only spent a couple of minutes reading about it.
Of course it’s important to bear in mind that you won’t always agree with the reviewer. At the end of the day it is only one persons opinion per review. So if you want to get an idea of what the music you’re researching is like then it’s best to read a few different reviews.
My Go-To Review Sites
My favourite places to read reviews are Pitchfork, The Guardian and Metacritic. The latter being my go-to source for discovering new releases.
I think for a lot of you Pitchfork would be a great place to start because it’s so easy to navigate. Each new release is labelled with the genre so you can sift through the sort of music you’re looking for really quickly. The ‘Staff Picks’ section is also a really unique part of the site. It reads a bit more like a blog and takes you through some of the picks by Pitchfork staff. As I’m searching on the website right now I’m just dreaming about how much I wish my blog looked as cool as their site does. It’s so chic!
The Guardian online is my go-to for reading in depth reviews. I always find their reviews to be really fair which is something that I’ve found can be an issue sometimes with reviews. Sometimes it feels like certain reviews are being unnecessarily harsh on a couple of musicians. And in other cases it feels like they’re hyping up an album that isn’t actually that incredible. But overall The Guardian seems to be spot on with their music reviews.
Read Blog Posts
Honestly I think reading blog posts about pretty much anything is a great way to learn something new. Whether you’re trying to get travel advice for your next city break (post-lockdown), discover a new drink, or in this case discover new music. You can find everything you need by reading blog posts.
For those of you that have followed Female Original for a while, you’ll know that I’m always sharing new music on here, on social media and in my newsletter too. But of course there are loads of other bloggers out there that write about music. My advice would be to start with actual music bloggers. We’re talking the bloggers that exclusively post about music.
You’ll likely find things like new song and album releases, interviews with small musicians and maybe even a few playlists on music blogs. I do have to say that, in my three years of blogging I’ve found it hard to find bloggers that focus exclusively on music. So if you’re struggling to find music bloggers then the next thing to do is look to bloggers that have music sections, in the same why that you might come to me for music content.
A few examples…
Listen To The Radio
I feel like the radio is something that the younger generation just aren’t that into. And I have absolutely no idea why. Radio stations are one of the most amazing ways to discover music but I feel like we all completely overlook it as a resource.
Sometimes you just really can’t be bothered doing the research when it comes to discovering music…you just want to listen without having to search for music. Which is where radio comes in. On the days where you really don’t feel like reading reviews, blog posts and searching Spotify playlists for music, it’s so much easier to just pop the radio on.
A Few UK Stations To Check Out
Remember at the beginning when I mentioned that you should start by figuring out WHAT music you wanted to discover. This is where that really comes in handy. Because depending on what music you’re looking for, you’ll want to choose the right radio station to tune into.
For example in the UK BBC Radio 1 is the one you want (excuse the pun) for all things chart and popular music. We’re talking the UK top 4o, new releases from the big names in popular music and just that whole general vibe. BBC Radio 2 is more of a mix of older tunes from pre ’00s, as well as some new hits that maybe aren’t necessarily full pop tunes. And then my personal favourite, BBC Radio 6, which focuses on more alternative music and, in my opinion, is the ultimate station to discover loads of new musicians. The Steve Lamacq show is probably my favourite on the station and it’s on every day from 4pm-7pm (UK time).
Of course there are plenty of other radio stations out there e.g. Absolute 80s, Capital FM etc. But as a general rule I’d say stay away from stations that have a repeated playlist. Have you ever listened to a radio station that just plays the same playlist of songs every day? Honestly it’s the most frustrating thing.
Check Local Events
So I know that right now this isn’t something that we can do… BUT it is a big one to note down for future reference (when it’s safe to attend events). A great way to find new music is to see who’s playing live near where you live. Check local bars and music venues websites (and social media!) and see if they have any upcoming gigs. You haven’t necessarily got to get yourself a ticket to their concert. Instead you can use the websites to discover new musicians.
In Liverpool we’re lucky to have loads of local music venues, whether it’s for large concerts at the M&S Bank Arena, mid size gigs in the O2 Academy or a bar gig at what’s come to be a favourite spot of mine in Liverpool, Jimmy’s. There are plenty of music venues in all major cities so if you live in or near a city you’re spoilt for choice. For those of you who aren’t close enough to large cities however, remember what I said about not having to actually go to the concerts. This is all about discovering new music, not necessarily seeing music live, so you can still check who’s playing in venues all over the world if you wanted to! Just pop onto their websites and do some searchin’.
Congrats! You’re A Music-Finding Pro!
So that just about covers everything you need to know about how to find new music. I know it was a pretty hefty post but hopefully you feel like you know exactly how to discover some new music to listen to and WHERE to look for it! Do you have any other ideas of where to find new music? Have you got specific sources that you read to keep up to date with the latest tunes? Send them my way.
If you enjoyed reading then make sure to share the post on socials (via the little share bar on the right) and tag me in it! I’d love to chat with you about your own music discovery journey. And if you’re looking for even more music content to read then why not sign-up to my blog newsletter and get your very own FREE issue of my monthly music e-magazine into your inbox. You can also find plenty of other music content on here with my two series’ The Legend Slot and Music Monthly.
Read next: The Legend Slot: Queen.
*Photography taken by Harry Grout, Roman Kraft, Fixelgraphy, Zui Hoang, John Mark Arnold, Thought Catalog and SGC Design Co via Unsplash.