Discover New Music With The Best Online Tools

Discovering new music is a full time job. But unless you work in A&R for a music label, you’re probably not lucky enough to get paid to hang out and hunt for new music and bands all day long.

That leaves the rest of us who are stuck listening to the same dusty albums from Junior High. I think I owned the Aqua album at one point…

If you don’t have 8 hours a day to be listening to radio, sampling new music or discussing music with other hipsters, how are you supposed to expand your own music library? Luckily, there are some very cool music services out there that let you explore new music and stumble across new sounds. And what’s the biggest bonus? You don’t have to spend a single night in a community center basement listening to garage bands hoping to find audio gold.

These are some of my favorite music discovery tools and methods.

Music Blogs

Even if you can’t be listening to new music 8 hours a day, there are some fantastic music bloggers out there that do. Search for some music blogs that suit your taste in music.

The Hype Machine

One of the best sites out there is the Hype Machine. They’ve gone to the effort of finding some of the best and most influential music blogs out there and collected them all into one site. You can search by specific artists or songs, browse by your favorite genres, spy on what other Hype fans are listening to and save all your favorite tracks as a playlist you can listen to any time.

The Hype Machine is also a very active community. Once you create a profile you can share your favorites and finds with everyone in the Hype network.

Visit: The Hype Machine.

Internet Radio

Internet radio is another option if you’re looking to passively scan for new music. Internet radio stations come in a couple different varieties, ranging from a list of online radio stations to sites that let you build custom players, so there’s bound to be a couple that suit the way you like to discover music best.

Slacker

Slacker lets you build your own custom radio station based on your own tastes. Begin with one of your favorite songs, and Slacker will continue to suggest similar songs it thinks you might like. It also comes preloaded with over a hundred stations based on genre to give you a jump start on finding new music.

One of the really cool things about Slacker that I haven’t seen in many other services yet is its flexibility. You can listen to your Slacker music wherever you go. Download the Slacker app for any smartphone, integrate it with a couple mp3 players and pipe it into your stereo system to listen to your stations while relaxing at home.

Slacker is free, but it also comes a paid version that comes with a couple extra perks. Opt for the paid version to be able to skip and request songs, read up on your favorite song lyrics and get rid of ads.

Visit: Slacker.

Pandora

Pandora radio was one of the first online radio stations that I listened to as a kid. Similar to Slacker, Pandora lets you build custom radio stations based on your favorite song choices. It’ll continue to suggest new songs based on a huge variety of unique details about each song. To get an idea of how it works, Pandora analyzes the pitch, the melody, harmony, rhythm and a lot more to intelligently select new music that is similar to what it knows about your tastes.

You’re also able to “Thumb Up” or “Thumb Down” songs as they’re played. What’s really cool about that is every time you make a choice about a song, Pandora learns a little bit more about you and becomes more savvy about finding songs that suit your particular tastes in music.

Pandora’s gone mobile, too. Download the Pandora application for your smartphone and take your radio stations with you.

Unfortunately, Pandora is only available in the US. So for all of us in Canada, we’re out of luck.

Visit: Pandora.

Grooveshark

Grooveshark is similar to Slacker and Pandora, but I think it gives you more flexibility than either of these other services. Grooveshark comes with a few preloaded radio stations by genre, but its real value is that it lets you create your own custom playlist from a huge library of music online.

The trade-off is that you have to put in more effort. You have to create your playlist song by song, as opposed to simply choosing a song and then letting the site choose more music for you based on your preferences.

If you’re looking to put in the effort and build a playlist that you can access anywhere, Grooveshark could be the service for you. If you’re interested in passively stumbling on to new music, an online radio station like Slacker and Pandora might be the better way to go.

You can also step your Grooveshark game up to the next level and pay for one of their premium services. For a few bucks a month, you can take Grooveshark mobile on your smartphone or use an ad-free version of their site.

Visit: Grooveshark.

Recommendation Engines

Music blogs and internet radio stations are great ways to find new music, but if you’re just interested in getting a new list of recommendations, there are a few services online that are pretty intelligent when it comes to suggesting new music.

Last.fm

Last.fm is a pretty cool music recommendation service.

You begin by downloading their Scrobbler. The Scrobbler sends Last.fm information about the music you play, how often and and which songs you like the most. It compares your information with every other person out there using Last.fm to begin making recommendations that look like they would fit your tastes.

Last.fm goes beyond recommending music and as an added bonus, it recommends concerts in your area. Neat, eh?

There’s also a social aspect to Last.fm. Connect with your friends and the online community to expand your own social network and get some personalized opinions on where you can grow your music library.

Visit Last.fm

iLike

iLike is the social method of finding new music. It integrates with social platforms like Facebook and Google accounts to record all the information about your favorite bands. Because iLike can search all of your social network, it can recommend new music that your friends are interested in.

One of the coolest parts of iLike is that it’s attracted a lot of artist attention as well. Artists are able to update you on their latest developments and new concert dates right through iLike, so you’ll never be in the dark when it comes to your favorite bands.

Visit: iLike

Subscription Services

If you don’t want any limits in your hunt to find new music, a subscription service may be the way to go. There are a few sites online which will let you stream and download all the music that you want for a monthly fee. With no limits, you’re free to experiment with as many new bands and styles as you want without worrying about download fees.

Just be aware that you won’t be able to listen to the music you download from subscription services once you cancel your account. So, it’s better to think of subscription music services as an ongoing rental than actually owning the music you listen to.

Rhapsody

Rhapsody is a streaming service that boasts over 10 million songs. It also gives you the option of listening to music the way you want to – streaming online, on your smartphone, via a compatible home theater system or in one of a few of their compatible mp3 players.

Subscriptions begin at $9.99/month, and up to $14.99 for their premium service to stream music to up to 3 smartphones or mp3 devices.

Visit: Rhapsody

Napster

Remember the days or the original Napster? It used to be the first influential P2P file sharing service until it was shut down. It’s been reorganized and updated as a legitimate music streaming service. The cool thing about Napster these days is that it’s trying to be a service that combines some of the best features of the music services that have already been discussed.

Napster goes beyond simple subscription music downloading and lets you stream a wide variety of online radio stations. Explore the Napster community network to discover music from your friends. You can also take your subscription music mobile on a variety of compatible mp3 devices.

Using all of these services depends on the subscription tier you opt in for. Once you download Napster, you can immediately begin browsing their catalogue and buying music. If you opt in for their subscription service, you can begin streaming as much music as you want. You have to pay for their premier service if you want to play music on your mp3 player.

Visit: Napster

Zune Pass

The last subscription service you may want to look at is Microsoft’s own Zune Pass. Zune is trying to become an all-around entertainment hub, giving you the option of downloading music, movies and television to enjoy on your computer, television and smartphone.

A Zune Pass is essentially a license that lets you browse and listen to music across any of your favorite devices, like your computer, television and Zune mp3 players. One of the cool features about the Zune Pass is that it lets you keep 10 songs per month permanently. Other subscription services will block access to your songs once you cancel your account.

You’re also able to take Zune mobile, and listen to your streaming music on any Windows 7 phones.

With its added features and options, the Zune Pass may be the best subscription service for you – but only if you’re a die-hard PC and Microsoft fan. If you own an Xbox, PC and Windows 7 phone, you can bridge all of your devices together, creating a unified entertainment hub for all of your digital music, television and film. Just remember that you’re not going to be able to use Zune with any other company’s products.

Visit: Zune

Virtual Concerts

The final way you might want to learn more about new music is to check out artist performances. Concert video is probably the most dynamic way to learn about the music and style of a new artist. On top of finding out about new artists, this is a great way to find out about how an artist performs live. For anyone else who’s ever been disappointed by a live performance, it’s worthwhile checking concerts out ahead of time.

iConcerts

iConcerts is a site that compiles a huge variety of concert footage. You can search by concert type by genre, or look for your favorite artists. Their artist library is huge, but they may not always have concerts for all of them. Regardless, it’s a great place to check in with the most recent concert footage from your favorite artists or see how a new artist performs live.

Visit: iConcerts