Have you ever asked someone their favorite band, only to be shut down? “Oh, you probably haven’t heard of them,” they say from behind their grandmother’s sunglasses.
Most people discover new music from their friends or by listening to the radio.
“But what if I want to be cooler than most people?” you say, in between mouthfuls of cave-aged goat cheese and artisan bread.
Well, if you want to discover new bands before anyone else, so that when you see them in front of thousands of people at Coachella, you can say turn to the people next to you and say things like “Oh yeah, I saw them play for 20 people at their first show in the US” or “Yeah, bought their first-pressing vinyl a few years ago,” you need to go straight to the source.
So here are the top five ways to discover new music before it becomes popular.
1) Reddit – the social-media site relies on user-submitted content to decide what is and isn’t popular. What many don’t know, however, is that there are hundreds of smaller communities within the site where passionate users sift through content to curate what’s new and exciting. Most important for you to discover new music, though, is http://reddit.com/r/listentothis, which often features small, upcoming bands that then explode a month or two later.
2) Blogs – small indie blogs are the heartbeat of this community—they’re often the first to interview new bands as their music drops. Many have weekly posts with curated playlists, so you hardly even need to do any work. http://pigeonsandplanes.com/
3) Spotify Playlists – There are a ton of these, and new music inevitably finds its way onto them before the radio. Some record labels even run their own to promote new artists. https://play.spotify.com/user/columbiarecords_us/playlist/55UVG32oJPhoXZ6wJ2WqFn?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open
4) Random shows – Do something crazy. Go to a small show or a small festival-type show at a local venue. http://ohmyrockness.com has indie concert listings for all of Los Angeles and Orange County. Pick one and attend. Worst comes to worst you can use the music you’ve discovered with numbers one, two and three as talking points to impress your new hipster friends at the bar.
5) Independent Radio – In the 80s, college radio was the only way to discover indie music, and while radio may have faded into obscurity, it remains one of the best places to discover new music. Try http://chapmanradio.com for true college radio, or http://soma.fm for more professionally run independent radio.