How Do You Find Good Music Online?

from the not-so-easy dept

We’ve been arguing here for a long time that offering up music for free online is a great (free!) way for musicians to promote themselves. The problem, then, is what happens when lots of musicians follow through on such a plan and there’s so much music out there that it’s impossible to find what you like? The record labels would have you believe that’s why they have A&R guys: to sort through the crap and provide you with the best of the best. Unfortunately, these days, the big labels aren’t necessarily looking for the best of the best, but the most marketable to the widest possible audience. The way I find music is that I have a few friends whose musical tastes I trust. They know what I like, and when they say, “hey, you should check out this band,” I usually do – and, more often than not, I’m happy I did. Building up those same sorts of “trusted recommender” systems online is possible, but not that easy. Part of the original promise of music sharing networks was that you could find those with similar tastes and look through their collections to find other artists you hadn’t heard of – or better yet, communicate with the person directly to see who they might recommend. The record labels, of course, hate this idea, because it takes away their function, and puts promotions into the hands of just about anyone. I like this method much better than the “collaborative filtering” process that’s becoming popular again – partly because the record labels can harness it themselves instead of leaving the recommending up to the riff raff. Collaborative filtering looks for all the people who are sort of similar to what you like and looks for other musicians they tend to like, but which you haven’t rated yet. The problem here, again, is that it gets watered down. You’re only discovering new acts after many others have, and some of the more obscure but great acts may get filtered out. Still, there are some intriguing new collaborative filtering tools that people are gravitating towards. The article discusses the relatively new iRATE radio which has been getting a lot of attention lately. It’s basically an online jukebox that uses collaborative filtering to try to hone in on the music you like.

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Comments on “How Do You Find Good Music Online?”

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Chris says:

No Subject Given

I have some success with the “other people who bought this album…” feature on Amazon or Itunes. Also, email newsletters from record stores – I’ve bought at least a dozen CD’s from a small shop in KS – because something in their monthly email caught my attention and checked out a couple of MP3’s from some band I had not heard of 10 minutes prior. Actually, I would guess 80% of the music I buy is from small bands I only know about because of the Internet.

Of course, you don’t hear too many small unsigned bands complaining about MP3’s. It’s the establishement bands that fear change.

LittleW0lf says:

Never had a problem finding music at

Never had a problem finding good music at, may it rest in peace. The cool thing was that they had music sorted in such a way that the most listened too artists in a particular genre appeared at the top, but I often found that just clicking on some of the hit songs of an album would tell me whether or not I liked a particular musician. And I bought a lot of music this way, finding new musicians by listening to one or two of their songs… I never would have bought Spaeth, Max Goblin, or Gnumosy if I hadn’t listened to their music first.

CD-Baby has the same setup and I’ve been spending a lot of time there.

I fully agree with Mike though, lately I’ve only been buying music that I can hear a few songs first to see if I like the artist’s work. I get to hear their music for free, but I tend to buy their albums anyway.

Larry (user link) says:

Re: No Subject Given

For what it’s worth, I’ve created a website devoted to promoting artists who appeal to older adults, but usually slip through the cracks when it comes to radio and t.v. Yes, we have the obligatory Sting and Annie Lennox. But we also promote lesser-known artists like the Mavericks, Cassandra Wilson and Nickel Creek. We link to Amazon for sales, but I’d like to think our site is a resource for boomers who still love music, but haven’t a clue where to start.

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