Pro-Tips: How to Discover New Artists
It’s harder now than ever to keep up with the constant flow of new artists. Not only do more people have the ability to distribute on a wider scale, but the pool is also subject to less quality control. How do you sift through the dirt to uncover the gems? From searching the blogosphere to checking the liner notes in your favorite albums, here are 10 tips that will make sure only the best new stuff is blasting through your ear buds.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask!
Two heads are better than one, right? How about a dozen? Look, it’s impossible to keep up with everything on your own, and there’s no shame in that. There’s nothing wrong with asking your friends what they’re checking. Chances are, you’ll be able to introduce them to something they haven’t heard either. As the old saying goes, a closed mouth doesn’t get fed!
Traditional radio has pretty much gone the way of the dodo in terms of being the go-to technology for discovering the latest artists. Instead, why not turn to the new technologies that do the work for you? Pandora and Beats Music have algorithms that will suggest similar artists based on whatever you already like. Or how about Shazam, an app that identifies whatever obscure song you hear in the bathroom of your favorite restaurant? Embrace technology, and it’ll pay off.
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone.
You might be able to name every hip-hop artist of note to have come out in the last calendar year, but do you know what’s going on in trap music right now? How about the latest in afro-punk? We all have our preferences, but the only way to expand your horizons is to make the affirmative effort to try new things. Make little “music projects” for yourself by committing to a new genre for a few weeks, and chances are, you’ll find something you’ll like.
Check the Liner Notes.
Was there a beat on that A$AP Ferg album you really dug, or a singer’s hook from Childish Gambino’s latest project that you just can’t get out of your head? Check the liner notes from the album containing the tracks to see who actually contributed. Then, when you find out who the person is, do a quick search online and see what else they’ve worked on. If someone’s made something you like, there’s a good chance their other stuff will entice you as well.
Know Your History.
Did you know that one of A$AP Rocky’s major influences was UGK? Or which singers Emeli Sande tries to emulate? Turns out, if you were to make a map of music influences, it’d look like a huge family tree. That means you can trace an artist’s roots, and then go see which other artists cite the same influences. Sure, it’s a circuitous route, but you’re sure to learn about new artists.
Consult the Experts.
There are hundreds of sites out there devoted to bringing you the latest and greatest. Make yourself a list of sites you like as you try them out, and make sure to include sites with diverse opinions. One site might be relegated solely to hip-hop (or even a particular region or time period), while another may be a one-size-fits-all model that focuses on popular music. Just keep track of whose music tips are good and whose tips are duds, and pretty soon you’ll have a formidable selection of expert opinions to choose from.
Hey, remember that Twitter thing? Turns out it’s useful for way more than just shooting the breeze with your friends. On any number of social media platforms artists, bloggers, fans, and music lovers are posting links to their favorite new stuff. If it’s good, there’s someone online supporting it. So get yourself a username and get to digging!
Digging in the Crates.
Speaking of digging, the tried-and-true method of hitting a live, brick-and-mortar record store never fails. Record stores routinely receive limited or advanced copies of the newest stuff, which they’ll often be spinning. The record store employees are also usually a wealth of information, and can share what people have been responding positively to, their own personal opinions, and what records they just got. Imagine that: a non-Internet resource that’s still useful!
Hit Up a Festival!
Summertime is festival season, and that’s a prime place to discover new talent. Sure, OutKast is headlining nearly every festival this year, but a lot of the opening acts are relative unknowns. So while you’re waiting for the famous headliner, get to the show early and go to the source. The crowds will be smaller, so you’ll get a chance to really get a good listen, and chances are, they’ll be selling (or even giving away) some of their music at the show!
Your Favorite Artists’ Favorite Artists
In nearly every interview these days, artists are being asked about their favorite new artists. There are hundreds of interviews uploaded to YouTube every single week — pick any one of your favorite artists and you’re likely to find an interview they’ve done in recent times where they’ll put you onto game. After all, you enjoy your favorite artist’s artistic decisions, so there’s no reason why their taste in music would steer you wrong.
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July 17, 2014 via Pepsi