Discovering a new song that you love is one of the best feelings in the world, especially for an audiophile like me that loves to have my library filled to the brim with all kinds of interesting sounds. Unfortunately, with radio’s emphasis on top-charting hits and streaming service’s preferences for mainstream artists on their home screens, it can be difficult to find different music. But there are plenty of tools you can use if you are willing to dive beneath the surface.
Let’s start with the basics. Playlists like Discover Weekly and Release Radar are generated automatically by Spotify based on certain criteria. When you first make your account, Spotify tracks your listening preferences for about a week and builds a figurative “taste profile” for you. Based on this profile, it will generate your very own Discover Weekly playlist that will update with about 30 new songs that are similar to your tastes every Monday. Release Radar tracks which artists you follow on Spotify as well as the artists you listen to most and will generate a playlist for you every Friday. This playlist highlights new releases from the artists you already like and similar artists you may not have heard of.
Spotify’s browse tab offers all of the content from these two playlists and a section that allows you to browse through a list of specific moods, situations or genres you want your music to fit. Selecting one of these will generate a page full of playlists created both by Spotify’s algorithms and other users that fit your selection. You can also start a figurative radio station, similar to Pandora’s service, based on genres, specific artists, specific time periods and even specific tracks.
One of the most interesting and comprehensive music discovery tools that I use is everynoiseatonce.com or ENAO. ENAO is a web page that displays a gigantic scatter plot of genres clustered together based on how similar they are to one another. These genres range from the most basic “electronic,” “hip-hop” and “rock” headings to the more obscure and niche like “neo honky tonk” and “turbo folk.” The website isn’t just a random grab bag of genres, however. There is also a handy artist search bar at the top. Typing an artist’s name into this bar will show you a short list of what genres that artist produces within, which will allow you to quickly narrow down a genre you are looking for if you don’t want to spend time exploring the full scatter plot. There are also links at the top of genre pages that will generate a custom Spotify playlist for you, which will showcase some of the best songs and artists that genre has to offer.
Learning from others
If you enjoy getting music recommendations from living breathing people and not leaving it up to computer algorithms, I’ve got you covered there, too. The website 8tracks.com allows users to compile their own radio stations and mixtapes that others can enjoy and share. Instead of computer algorithms that structure all playlists in the same ways, an 8tracks playlist could be as varied or consistent as the user likes. Users can refine and specify their tastes as much as possible by tagging playlists based on genres, moods and situations. Users can add mixtapes that they enjoy to their collection and even put them in folders specified by genre or mood. The site’s home page also features the most popular playlists from various genres and playlists picked personally by the website’s staff.
There are plenty of engaging ways to find and share new music. Even if you find a reliable music discovery method that works for you, don’t stop there. Enjoy and explore as much as you can because you never know what great surprises could be waiting around every corner.