I really enjoy music. I'm not sure how I'd spend my day without music involved at some point. I listen to it in my car, at work, while gaming and even while falling asleep. I mean, I love all of the music I own and love, but where do I find new music to listen to? I used to use local radio stations to find new music, but they have since went from a great rock station to a “let's play everything from every decade ever for everybody and their mom” kind of station, so I don't get new music. There are no good rock stations here in the Milwaukee area that play new music.
So, now I listen to MP3 CDs in my car. I would use my iPod, but my new iPod Touch doesn't work with the iPod cable I had installed with my new radio. It turns out the voltage changed from the old iPod 3G to the Touch, so I can only charge it (even with a so-called converter adapter.) But, I digress.
I bet you're asking, “So, Sideshow, where do you hear new music?” Good question and I'm here to answer it. I find most of my new music online. Mostly from services that cater to this exact problem and sometimes from friends that enjoy the same genres. Here are some great sites to visit that can help you find new music based on your tastes or playlists.
According to their about page, Last.FM is a music service that learns what you love. Every track you play will tell your Last.fm profile something about what you like. It can connect you to other people who like what you like – and recommend songs from their music collections and yours too.
I have used it for almost two years now and it's given me a lot of great recommendations. They have a program that you download that will “scrobble” the tracks you play in most major music players. This ability is also built-in to a lot of other music players, such as my standard player, Songbird. Once this is done, all of your track info is sent to your profile where you can see recommendations, meet other people with similar tastes and even listen to stations based on your tastes. For example, visit my profile and see what it may look like and if you're already on there, feel free to friend me. Syrana used to use it, but I'm not sure how active she has been.
What's with all the .FM names? Don't know, but Blip.FM can best be described as Twitter meets a Radio Station. A blip is a combination of 1) a song and 2) a short message that accompanies it. You can think of it as your personal radio station, or at least related to the feed you're putting out. That's not the end of it because you can also subscribe to other user's feeds and create a very unique and customized radio station to listen to. The songs are pulled from all over the web and they've added the ability to use YouTube videos, which gives a lot more to choose from, so you almost never run out of material. I know Samodean of Massive Nerd is using it for his Countdown to Rocktober 13th. Here is my Blip station for reference.
Most people have heard of Pandora Radio. It was a big story a few months ago when it finally came to a deal with the record companies to allow it to continue. According to it's description, Pandora is an automated music recommendation and Internet radio service created by the Music Genome Project. Users enter a song or artist that they enjoy, and the service responds by playing selections that are musically similar. Users provide feedback on approval or disapproval of individual songs, which Pandora takes into account for future selections.
I used Pandora a lot in the past and it was very good at what it does. People sometimes get confused an expect it to make a station based on the the genre, etc. Technically, that is mostly true, but Pandora looks more at what makes up the song rather than it's genre and makes a station based on those things. This is what the Music Genome Project is. A given song is represented by a list of attributes containing approximately 150 “genes”. Each gene corresponds to a characteristic of the music, for example, gender of lead vocalist, level of distortion on the electric guitar, type of background vocals, etc. Given the characteristics of one or more songs, a list of other similar songs is created.
This can create some very unique and also some very well-balanced stations. For example, I have some stations for “Old School Thrash Metal”, “80s Hair Bands”, “Female-Fronted Heavy Metal”, “90s G-Funk Rap” and they are all created on-the-fly by Pandora based on my interactions with the player. It's very good and I have always been impressed by it.
Word of Mouth and Other Neat-O Ideas
This is always one of the best ways to try new music. I have had some of my best recommendations from people I know that enjoy the same genres of music. Plus, they usually have a CD you can borrow. Facebook helps with this since you can look at your friend's favorite musicians and what YouTube videos they favorite or whatever. A few bands I found through Facebook friends have been bands like Paradise Lost, Dream Evil, and Opeth.
There are always other strange ways I've run across new music like a seemingly random Google search had me run across an article on Trivium whom I've since become a big fan of. As much flak as Rock Band games get for not “being real instruments” I've found a ton of great music through the game and it's DLC. A few bands to name a few, Black Tide, The Who (I knew of them, but enjoy the music much more now), and Testament. Plus, there are always the opening bands that we see at all the concerts we go to including Corrosion of Conformity (Metallica, 1997) and Machine Head (Metallica, 2009).
Twitter is always another good option, though I have yet to find any big, new music through it but I know that time is coming. iTunes and Amazon do have a “You May Like This” page which can also help.
So, forget about local radio unless you're lucky enough to have a station that really cares about getting newer music out to your ears. Give these few websites a try and ask around to see what other people like. I always thought I'd be content with the music I've always liked, but I'm really glad I've found new music through these services.
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