Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Discover New Music

I stopped listening to commercial music radio a long time ago.  It used to be that I would listen to the radio and hear something I enjoyed, then would eventually go out and buy the song (or the album if I really liked the artist).  Maybe it's because I've gotten old, but most of what I hear of popular music is a talent wasteland.  Even what would be considered "adult contemporary" is mostly riddled with computer-modified vocals together with computer-generated noise.  You'd think that the Mad Computer Scientist (ie. me) would find this application of technology appealing, but I truly don't.  Actually, consider my reaction about the same as most people would react to walking into a room that smells of ammonia and poop -- irritated senses and the feeling of nausea.

So where in the world does one go to experience something new?

I've found a treasure-trove of talent on YouTube.  Unfortunately there's almost too much to choose from, however, and the artists I've discovered have actually happened almost by accident.  I would look at a video that had one topic, and one of the recommended (related) videos turned out to be someone performing something I enjoyed.  I would explore more from there, and stumble upon some real talent.  This is how I found Sayalessandra (Sayaka Sato), Stephanie Strand, Mary Win, and of course TheUnsungHeroine (Kristina Hu).  I've found it really refreshing to be able to connect with a couple of the artists on facebook and be able to actually give direct praise and feedback about their work.  My recommendation, if you don't care to be a troll, is to keep the feedback positive and constructive.  Keep in mind that these folks are sharing their passion with you.  If you don't like what they do, move on to someone you do like.

Another place to explore new music is none other than amazon.com.  Amazon has a little-known section of their site with free mp3 music.  To get there, go to Amazon's MP3 store (Shop by Department -> MP3s & Cloud Player -> MP3 Music Store), then along the left sidebar under Categories select Free Songs & Special Deals, then along the right side there's a link that says Browse all free songs.  The free song section are usually songs that a rising artist has placed out there to gain interest in their album or other work.  Some of it is junk.  A lot will be music you just won't like.  Usually it's pretty obvious from the album cover or name of the artist or song whether this is a genre you'll find you like.  With some patience, however, some great gems can be found...and with luck, some new music you'll enjoy enough to purchase and support these artists.  I actually downloaded a couple of free songs by Hayley Reardon, and at first I wasn't sure I liked her style.  However, she really has grown on me, and I need to purchase more songs from her albums Hope You're Smiling and Beautiful Simplicity.  This is just one example of an artist I discovered this way.

A lot of people like Pandora and some of the other Internet radio stations.  For a while, I kind of liked these, but I found myself more likely to rediscover some old lost favorites rather than discovering something new.  Yes, I admit, I stick to the style I like yet, but it's nice to hear someone different once in a while.

I realize that living in Austin, Texas (the supposed live music capital of the world) I should be out at some concert.  I'm not one for being out in crowds, though, and frankly I rather enjoy exploring recorded music more.  If live music is your thing, though, that's certainly another avenue for exploration.

So don't feel like you have to stop discovering new music just because you can't bear to listen to the radio anymore, or find the stuff "the kids are all listening to" utterly repulsive.  Hopefully you now know of a few cool places to look for new music.

An unrelated comment...

No doubt you've heard about the bombing that happened during the Boston Marathon.  While my heart goes out to all those who have been injured or worse, I really don't have a lot to add to what has already been said.  I know that after the comments I made in my last posting one may expect I would want to comment, but I don't.  What has happened saddens and depresses me as it exposes the dark side of what it means to be human.  I'm going to spend a few extra moments with my cat instead of saying any more.

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