FULL DISCLOSURE: How Do You Discover New Music?

ipod-touch-a.jpgSometimes it's good to be cynical when it comes to music, and distrustful of selections depending on the source of recommendation as long as you don't wallow in it. Music that appeals to you because it was shoehorned into your consciousness by overwrought PR tactics, desperate media flacks and lazy familiars that follow in line and step with "what's hot" might not be that good, and later on you may learn that you don't even really like it as much as you thought you did. But the stuff that appeals to your own innate sensibilitiesis is usually the good sh*t. It's good because you value the merits of independent discovery, free of all the hype, noise and payola that has come to characterize mainstream viability.

We recently asked some close friends and fam how they discover new music. This will probably be our most important exchange of ideas. It's crucial to look beyond the usual radio and cable stations, as well as popular blogs (even ours). Your scope of reference must be wide and your options must be varied. Mainly because, it blows to complain about sheep only to later learn you are one.



Websites: Neo Soul Cafe, Flowink, Podsafe Music Network, Ioda Promonet, GoMusic, eMusic.

Podcasts and Mixtapes:
Indie Feed Hip Hop (is how I discovered Little Brother in '04), Rhymes and Beats, Mixing Monthly, Background Flow.

ill Mami:

It used to be through Digital DJs' website before it became defunct. Now it's through podcasts, Gordon Gartrell Radio & Casamena especially. And personal recommendations sometimes since usually I tend to know about most good music first.

Vivrant Thang:

When my iPod gets bored, I go on a binge downloading podcasts and mixes. I can usually count on our own DJ Stylus and Gordon Gartrell Radio to point me in the direction of artists that I've never heard of. And that's saying a lot for a connoisseur such as myself. I've also connected with some great people through my blog. In particular, one of my regular supporters from the UK has hipped me to some great musical discoveries. I also would encourage people to save up their loose change for a couple months and attend a live show! Interact with other music lovers and find out what they are rocking to.

Audio Diva:

Browsing Listmania! Lists on Amazon at two in the morning has gotten me some interesting and life long additions to my music collection. Some of my favorite clothing stores have some of the best music pumping out through the loud speakers, and I always find myself asking the salesperson "Who is that playing?" Usually they know because, well, they hear it about ten times a day. Aside from that, my closest friends and I have this thing where whenever we all get together at someone's house, they host the music for that night and it's a party around the host's computer with their iTunes playlist or Windows Media Player playing...bizarre but since my friends all have different tastes in music you always get into an artist or band that you never in life thought you'd enjoy.

DJ Stylus:

I hardly ever get a hold of hard copy mixtapes anymore. Radio? "Hell to the naw" - © Whitney

Blogs are a major source, and music websites in general, the latter of which are starting to edge out the steady diet of print magazines that I've long consulted to stay up on new tunes.

I spend a lot of time connecting the dots. If I like one artist, I'll check to see who they've worked with, who has produced them, and then go seek out those folks too. And my peers are a major information source, all of us being DJs, writers and artists.

DJ Diva:

I plead the fifth on the grounds that my testimony might incriminate me. Other than that, I belong to various DJ sites that email me new tracks and I read a lot. I get a lot of submissions to my website so I spend a lot of time listening to new music. I do listen to my Superfriends of Podcasting (EJ, Fave, Anewlis, Fresh, nOva, TGrundy, Nikki, Todd KellyDarren Keith) The list could go on and on lol  I very rarely listen to the radio. And there is no aside from Soulbounce...this is the information spot!

We get that not everyone is a deejay or otherwise related to the business of music in some way. But, any lover of music, regardless of their affiliation, keeps their ears open and is proactive. As you can see, most of the sources above didn't really exist until the last few years, meaning the listener is now more in control than ever.

What are your recommendations?

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29 Responses

  1. For me, it is a blend of things. Recommendations from fellow music lovers like me, blogs, radio (rarely at all these days), BET J's "Morning Cup" hipped to several folks, various liner notes or essays mentioning an artist I like and comparing them to a similar one.
    And for me, just curioisty. I just got into Terence Trent D'Arby from knowing his classic "Wishing Well" and an overall curiosity about the rest of his work, and I was rewarded. It depends on your position in music culture I guess.

  2. I used to check out VIBE magazine's Next profiles, but I don't read the mag. anymore, so I don't use that.
    This site. *big smile* And others like it.
    Target. They have a section of new artists that they promote; it also runs on the ticker TV tape they play. It's how I discovered Jason Mraz, Gavin DeGraw, Maroon 5, John Mayer, Lamya, Alice Smith, etc.

  3. Soulbounce, DUH.
    i also pick up things from other blogs/sites (RCRD LBL, Kevin Nottingham, Hip-Hop is Read, I Guess I'm Floating, Pitchfork, etc.), and the inescapable Myspace. i still read a lot of magazines as well, mostly Paste, The Fader, Skyscraper, Billboard & Wax Poetics these days. i also get hipped to a lot of stuff through
    those are the most common ways. i tend to stay up what's new and good, but it's much harder these days with so many sources of information. quite often, i discover artists later than i should have, simply due to backlog.

  4. @ QH,
    Terence is amazing, isn't he? I lack his Neither Fish Nor Flesh album and his works as the newly dubbed Sananda Matreiya. But they're on the list. *smile*

  5. @ Madame Zenobia
    MAN, "Neither Fish..." is the TRUTH. Currently, that and "Vibrator" tie for my favorite TTD LPs. I want his "Wilcard" LP as well.-QH

  6. Around this time of year, I like to check the Best of Lists from some trusted music magazines and blogs to see what I might have missed.

  7. "best-of" lists are indeed good sources to consult. good one, natthedem.

  8. I go to the Incognito web site, they have turned me on to some of the best music i have bought in quite sometime. also, i must admit Soulbounce has mos def had there hand in helping my wallet stay empty...Shout out to Detroit own Soundnexx...his mixes are on point..

  9. Amazon is my #1 source for discovering new music and music artists. 🙂 I also dig Okayplayer...and of course, Soulbounce!

  10. I would give up the goods as to where I find the majority of new music, but if I do, I wouldn't be able to break some exclusives. I do have to admit that a lot of artists PR people send me some of their tracks.
    Oh, and 2dopeboyz and always get the hot sh*t!

  11. ill Mami mentioned Casamena. He and DJ 1derful have the sickest soulful house/deep house podcasts on the internet! Casamena was the inspiration for my own soulful house mixes.

  12. this post is already beginning to serve its purpose. i just took at look at what you have cooked up on your site, Soulrific. i look forward to digging into those mixes immediately, if not soon.

  13. @ QH,
    Isn't Vibrator an awesome album!!! Okay, going to Amazon right now to order "Neither Fish Nor Flesh". Thanks! 🙂

  14. Blogs and Mainly

  15. I defintiely rely a great deal on my local & global dj's, but mostly local. A lot of them give a top ten list of new tracks, re-edits, etc with links to download in their newsletters/email blasts. I also frequently check out the many small venues we have here in San Francisco that showcase new and underground talent. Blogs of course, occassionally myspace via a music page or a song on someone elses page. I love imeem, i'm just now finding myself logging in more and more. Talking with friends or going to night clubs (that do not play T.I. or T Pain during the night). Podcasts, mixes, and anything that makes listening to music easy and pleasing. I hardly sleep because there is always something new popping up online, so if it wasnt for my computer and the internet i'd probably still be bumpin my cassettes lol jk.

  16. Music blogs and DJs who are friends to be honest. It's hard to say it's all about discovering new music though because it's actually about discovering music as a whole whether it be any genre or any time frame. Just yesterday I discovered some new classical pieces that are gorgeous and I'm always a fan and supporter of underground hip-hop. I actually live between three different countries so I get exposed to a lot more than most people who only listen to local radio. Also my dad is a musician and we regularly talk shop about who's doing what in the studios and where producers are getting inspiration from.

  17. I get a lot of new music from (the streaming radio website). What I like about it selects songs to play based off of song qualities you like. Another thing, I tend to visit A LOT of blogs (including Soulbounce @ work, lol) because everyone has something to share!

  18. Word of mouth and attending events are great resources. Also, I like to peruse the Internet. I'll go to and search an artist that I like and then look through their friends. Usually, there are a few musicians on another artist's friend list and they are worth listening to and keeping up with. Just looking at an artist's event-flyer posted on their Myspace page I'll see some artist names that I have never heard of.
    Also, I like to scour,,,, and for possible leads on great music.

  19. Soulbounce is one of my 'key' sites for new discoveries, as is Vivrant Thangs SITKOL, especially her 'underated' section.
    Okayplayer, SoulTracks, Honey Soul, Brown Sugar and all those recommended on the right here get regular visits. I have VERY different musical tastes from all my friends, and locally we get v.few live shows, so i tend to rely heavily on the net.
    Radio and music TV have pretty much gone out the window now (however I must say I first discovered Floetry and Jaguar Wright on MTV Base).

  20. It's more through commercial sites these days because if they've spent the money on recording it they generally want to sell it to you (iTunes, Amazon, etc.), and what's new is the easy access to work from overseas which may not always be "new" but may just be new to me. It happens less and less by accident though. I remember hearing a song called In My Bed in a record store and thinking it was a new Erykah Badu when in fact it was an early Amy Winehouse (I know, I know - be merciful!), that wouldn't happen now, the stores are closing.

  21. Came back to add VH!1 Soul's "Sub Soul" show to the list. They will play videos that won't see the light of day on MTV and/or BET. Great source for new music.

  22. RIGHT HERE! Also imeem can be worth signing up for. You search, you listen, they recommend or show related artist's tracks. That's a great way to discover people. LOTS of new, old, unreleased and rare musiq there to listen to. I frequent some other blogs and sites: Brown Sugar, HHU2, Sexy Never Left, 2DopeBoyz, Nahright,, and so on.... (criminal? Don't judge me!). I also learn of other up-and-coming artist's/writers by paying attention to writing credits and album liner-notes. I discover a lot of stuff from album features (sometimes very late). For instance: never heard of Muhsinah 'til 'Daykeeper'. I liked her, I searched for her and now I'm listening to her album Sine.
    I don't do radio or t.v. at all really. And unfortunately (because I'm kind of obsessed with music) I'm the 'new, exclusive music' person in my circle so I don't have anyone to hip me to anything. But that's where Soulbounce comes in right?!

  23. i have been blessed with a lot of friends that are obsessed with collecting music. we are constantly sharing "new" artist and styles of music.

  24. @ Madame Zenobia
    Yes, "Vibrator" is wicked cool. Lol, e-mail me so we can continue this conversation about TTD.-QH

  25. Man, on the real - - I come the torrent sites looking for good stuff by uploaders that are known for quality and new content.
    I have maybe 10 sites that post great soul, neosoul, jazz, electronica, rock and alternative rock. but my first stop is always the torrent sites. dont matter if you know its there, if you cant find it.
    man i am bumping enough unreleased material by your favorite neo soul artist to open a record store.

  26. One new music discovery service Music Patterns provides customized playlists based on music that 'People Like You' listen to.
    Using a psychology-based approach to music preferences , this method combines your individual preferences with identifying those that are similar to your 'music personality.'

  27. nice! i'm gonna make my own blog

  28. i'm gonna make my own site about it