A couple of weeks ago, I heaped praise upon Ex.fm and Tumblr. They have been a revelation in helping me to discover music and feeling plugged into what is relevant and interesting. Without them, I would probably still be listening to the same Pearl Jam and Metallica records I bought over fifteen years ago.
There are a few other excellent services that have been instrumental with expanding my musical horizons. When I purchased a new car last year, I decided to try out the pre-installed SiriusXM radio feature. I have to admit a huge amount of skepticism at first as CD’s and radio had been perfectly fine for years. Let’s face it though, NYC radio is horrifically bad and lugging CD’s is a pain. As my “smartphone” refused to communicate with my car’s sound system (thanks Motorola for your stupid boot loader software), I was left with Sirius XM.
It turns out that Sirius XM was better that I expected. There were enough channels to flip through, and several worth storing in memory. My fear was that the playlists would grow stale, and though that does happen on occasion, the choices have been solid on the whole. Unlike with cable where you can have hundreds of channels with literally nothing on, if my regular stations are not doing it, I have several sports stations, a few public radio options, two classical channels, a solid jazz channel, and a channel dedicated to redneck humor.
One problem though with listening to music in the car, I would forget the artist and song titles of the music I liked. This is where SoundHound came to the rescue. While I hesitate to muck with the mobile while driving, SoundHound is pretty easy to use and very quick in capturing songs. I open the app, click on the massive “Listen” button, wait a few seconds, and the song is captured and logged. At the end of an hour long drive, I can usually build up a list of a few new and notable songs to download later. SoundHound also keeps a record of all the searches, so I have a pretty good log stored up of all the songs I have snagged.
One site that I had only used sparingly until recently is Soundcloud. I had started noticing the number of Soundcloud shares increasing in recent months though, so I decided to poke around more. I am glad I did, because it is treasure trove of great independent artists loading up their music there. Recently, I was searching for bluegrass music, and found a ton of classic as well as recent recordings. The week before, I was checking out Sub Pop Records uploads for some of their artists. Great tunes and easy to find and share.
The last great find in the music discovery area has been Noisetrade. In full disclosure, Brandon McAllister is a friend of mine from WeWorkLabs, but the site would still be awesome with the association. It works in a similar fashion to Bandcamp, but you can download for music from independent artists for free, and if you like the music, you can donate any amount back to the artist. I think this is a brilliant model that helps artists to build up a following and get paid for their work. On the flip side, for music fans, there is no barrier of having to pay upfront and music aficionados can refresh their music libraries with great, new music from up-and-coming artists. With a update to the website several months back, Noisetrade is much easier to sample different artists and peruse various music genres.
With these additional options, plus Tumblr and Ex.fm, I have doubled a music collection in just one year that took twenty years to build. I still have my old favorites like those crusty Pearl Jam and Metallica albums, but I am really enjoying expanding my tastes. There are plenty of other apps however for music discovery however, so I would love to hear what you are using!