“What kind of music do you like?” is something that you’ve most likely been asked and have questioned others at some point in your life. Perhaps you like dance, pop, rock, or even dance-pop-rock. In today’s fast-paced, interconnected world, it’s easy to access a wide selection of media, so it’s fairly acceptable to like an expansive variety of genres that are constantly being reinvented. But, where does one consistently find new and enjoyable music? With so many artists out there trying to have their sound heard, it can be difficult to hone in on music worth listening to, which is why having an extensive array of media outlets providing insight can come in handy. Today, we bring you the best sites and apps to help you refine your search and discover the latest music to grace your ears.
Spotify is a multi-platform app that is an excellent source for not only listening to your favorites, but to aid in your discovery of new music. It allows you to keep a collection of music in your own digital library. You get unlimited access for the first 6 months. After that, there is a limit of 10 hours per month, unless you purchase a monthly subscription. You can create your own playlists and even share what you’re listening to across several social networks like Facebook and Twitter. On the main page of the program, you can always find the latest album releases and take a listen to figure out whether you like it or not. Each artist you click on has a “Related artists” section that introduces you to other artists with a similar sound. Additionally, you can click on “Start Artist Radio” which plays an automated track list of similar artists.
2. NPR Music
NPR Music is National Public Radio’s extensive site devoted to music. There are several headings under this main page that offer expert critiques and exclusive peeks into the best music out there today. All Songs Considered is part of the highly respected music section of NPR where host Bob Boilen and producer Robin Hilton release a weekly podcast by the same name that shares the best new music for the masses to discover. The program’s blog is updated frequently with articles pertaining to album reviews and upcoming shows and tours the duo are looking forward to. In addition, Tiny Desk Concert is an excellent source for hearing an eclectic mix of bands spanning different genres performing live (often acoustic) sets by Boilen’s desk in the NPR Music office.
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TuneIn is a site that offers over 50,000 different radio stations to listen to from around the world. While the site also provides listening channels for those interested in talk radio and sports broadcasting, there is a vast section designated for music stations, categorized by location, genre, and even sub-genres to help listeners find what they’re looking for. Whether you’re in the mood for a basic Top 40 in your city or you’re looking to expand your horizons on global hits on the other side of the earth, this free service will aid you in your musical discovery. There is also a handy app available (TuneIn Radio) for your on-the-go devices.
Pitchfork was launched by Ryan Schreiber nearly two decades ago in 1995 and has maintained its strong and loyal following. The site is a leading force in covering content about underground and independent music. While its main focus lies in indie rock music, it certainly plays a part in turning small, unknown bands, into breakout hits that crossover into the mainstream. For anyone interested in being the first to know about a band before they become popular, Pitchfork is the site to go to. It offers breaking interviews and extensive album reviews that are rated from 0.0 (the worst) to 10.0 (the best). The site also includes a “Best New Music” section where it features a frequently updated list of the best new tracks, and is known to offer full streams of albums before they are released.
Music is constantly around us and Shazam offers a sure-fire way to make sure you discover the artist and track name of the song you hear, wherever you are. The app allows users to discover, explore, share, and even buy music with just a few clicks. All that’s required for the app to recognize a song is an internet connection. It has an extensive library of music that can identify songs in over 30 languages. With the additional new feature called LyricPlay, you can even see the lyrics to over 30,000 popular songs in real-time, turning your listening party into a sing-along.
Pandora is a well-known site that has replaced the traditional radio for many in search of a continuous playlist of music that suits their tastes. This internet radio of sorts functions on the Music Genome Project, which represents a decade-long collection and analysis of music, allowing the program to identify up to 450 distinct musical characteristics. Through this carefully classified database that is continually growing, Pandora is able to customize a favorable radio experience for users, according to the song, artist, or genre with which they choose to start their musical journey.
7. The Hype Machine
The Hype Machine started as an experimental project in 2005 and has since grown into a business followed and run by avid music fans. The site serves as an aggregator of the best music blogs out there. The hundreds of blogs that the site pulls from include posts about new, underground music acts as well as reviews of mainstream artists. The blogs they carefully curate and share often contain MP3 links which can all conveniently be streamed on the site. While the Hype Machine itself doesn’t offer downloads of the MP3 files, it supports artists by providing iTunes and Amazon links to purchase their tracks. Another neat feature includes the ability to create your own customizable playlist with the vast library of music on the site.
SoundCloud is more than just a site that offers streams of music. It is a self-proclaimed “social sound platform.” The audio networking and communicating site allows anyone to upload their music and share it with everyone. Exploring the site can really introduce you to the latest, emerging artists and perhaps discover a new, experimental sound you haven’t heard before. The great thing about SoundCloud, other than its social sharing capabilities, is its open and interactive community. Within a sound clip, fellow listeners can leave comments ranging from their ecstatic response to a crescendo to their disappointment in lyrical repetitiveness.
Like SoundCloud, thesixtyone offers an arena for up-and-coming artists to upload their music and share it with the masses. It allows artists to showcase themselves and get direct feedback in accordance with their music’s popularity among listeners. The way thesixtyone operates is similar to a social game. The most user-elected favorite song is featured on the homepage. Users get to up- or down-vote a song, determining what makes it on the main page when anyone visits the site. It’s a great way to discover new music and contribute to what others get to hear. Adding more to the gaming aura of the site, participation is encouraged in the form of rewards in which you can “earn reputation, level up your influence, and collect badges.”
VEVO is a music programming platform that has a special partnership with YouTube, allowing its services to reach over 200 countries. It also has ongoing deals with major music labels to share music videos of the latest and most popular artists across a number of genres. If you’re feeling out of the loop and need to refresh your contemporary musical awareness, the main site can confidently help out with its “charts” section listing the top artists, videos, and staff picks. Additionally, VEVO has a mobile and tablet app, and can even be viewed on your TV by linking it to your Xbox profile where you will have access to the entire library of over 11,000 artists.