Discovering new music

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Discovering new music

Postby Jelger » Wed Mar 27, 2019 11:18 am

So this is something I've been wondering about for a while: for a few years, I've been noticing that I am less and less invested in discovering in new music. I hardly keep up and most of the time I only check-out new albums from bands I already know (but not bands I am a fan of by default).

I wonder why. I am 29 years old, turning 30 this summer. I once read some research paper that said on average people stop listening to new music after turning 25, which for me would be about right. The last few bands/acts that really grabbed my attention in the last three to four years were Wolf Alice and Courtney Barnett, but besides that I can't think of a new-new band that I got into. Some bands that have existed for a long time have been coming to the forefront more over the years (Pearl Jam being the prime example for me, a serious contender for the top spot) and some older bands I have discovered now, but really new and young bands don't seem to grab my interest. And the last year I have been noticing that new albums of bands I'm a casual fan of, usually fade to the back of mind quickly too. I listen to the albums 4-5 times in the weeks after they've been released, and then sort of forget about them. Arctic Monkeys being an example, though I didn't like their last album at all, but other examples are the latest releases of De Staat, Thrice, Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age.

One other factor could be Spotify becoming my main way to consume music. When I still used iTunes/a local library, I was constantly confronted with every album I had on my laptop. With Spotify, if I listened to a new song/album and don't save a track to my favorites or another playlist, I hardly ever go back to that album, while on iTunes I would see that album in my library every time I scrolled through it. But on the other hand: Spotify should greatly enhance the ease with which you discover new music. So I'm not sure if that's a factor.

Does anyone else have the same experience? If so, what do you think is the reason you don't discover a lot of new exciting music? Or if you don't: how do you go about discovering new bands and music?

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Re: Discovering new music

Postby Blind Melon » Thu Mar 28, 2019 1:24 am

I totally echo what you're going through... For the most part, I have a bunch of playlists for different moods/parts of the day that I put on... If a certain band comes on shuffle, and I want to listen to the album, I will, but that's becoming more rare.

But it's also a lot of newer music bores me... Too little creativity, or at least, from what I've heard, so it makes me withdraw even more from wanting to discover newer music. It takes a lot of time and effort to find gems... You really take a gamble with a new band, and then it almost becomes regrettable. It wasn't that difficult back in early 2000... But maybe I was more open to trying new bands. I wish we had a total count of bands back then vs now... I feel like it's been an exponential growth, which makes it even more difficult to find quality bands.

I also think time is a factor here... I'd listened to and discovered a lot of music during college... On my walk home, taking a drive somewhere, doing homework, etc. Now, I mostly listen to music while working, and I need something to keep me focused, so I'll put on a favorites playlist, or something like that, because I know I'll enjoy it. It's almost like I've become content with my music collection.
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Re: Discovering new music

Postby Jelger » Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:45 am

Yeah, change of lifestyle definitely is a huge factor. I think that's where the age of 25 also comes from, it's when most people really start getting into the grind of daily working life. When I was working I always listened to music, but indeed: something in the background, that I didn't need to focus on.

I too have not found many interesting bands lately, but I am of the opinion that if you look in any period of time, you'll find interesting bands (within your genre-preference). I just don't really take the time to do it anymore, and feel no motivation to do so.

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Re: Discovering new music

Postby The Idler Wheel » Thu Apr 04, 2019 1:43 pm

I'm in my late 30's now, and I feel this all the time. I feel like I'm turning into my parents saying, "They don't make music like they used to". But every generation goes through that.

It is true that your teens to early 20's is the peak era of discovering music and solidifying your attachment to certain artists and genres. I feel so lucky to have my adolescence be in the 90's/early 2000's because I feel there was such diversity on radio and TV. It seemed like every genre kind of had its moment to shine. I still like some music today, but I'm not attached to most of it compared to the music that was out there when I was growing up. Honestly, I think Paramore is the last band I truly got into and that was over twelve years ago now, which, as it turns out, was when I was 25. Most artists I listen to have been around 20+ years.
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Re: Discovering new music

Postby Jelger » Thu Apr 04, 2019 2:19 pm

Another thing I started to notice, relating to the 'listening to comfortable bands'-comment in the Incubus-thread, is that I now frequently listen to radio. And oddly enough: the same station my mother always listened when I was growing up. That station moved with the times a bit, but still plays a lot of older music. I find it relaxing, because I don't have to think about what to put on. When I was in my early 20's I never understood why anyone would listen to the radio. If you wanted to listen to music, then why listen to something where you have to hope to hear a song you like? But I get it now. And it makes me feel ancient!

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tingky
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Re: Discovering new music

Postby tingky » Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:08 am

Jelger wrote:So this is something I've been wondering about for a while: for a few years, I've been noticing that I am less and less invested in discovering in new music. I hardly keep up and most of the time I only check-out new albums from bands I already know (but not bands I am a fan of by default).

I've noticed this about myself too. For the past year or so, I was absorbed with work and family that I could barely listen to music at all for several days. I still have my iPod nano on me at all times- I always put it in my pocket, headphones and all, before going to work. But then the day ends without even using it. This went on for several months until I decided I should just leave the iPod at home. I also considered selling it but decided against it (this iPod had songs that could no longer be found anywhere in the internet, and my backup external HD went toast years ago).

Personally, I do not blame quality of the music. I do not think music today is bad. Far from it. I think the quality of music these days is top notch compared to 2 decades ago, as long as you're willing to look and have people who share the same musical interests with you. Music back in the day only seems to be "good" because the music industry had enough money to promote their signed acts. Even though we had boy bands, we also had Bjork, Soundgarden, and Rage Against the Machine - all in one Top 20 countdown. The mainstream back then was diverse and that's thanks to a healthy, booming industry - which then contributed to music being more prevalent in the public consciousness and therefore, more people talked about it. Which brings me to the first thing that contributed to this problem:

[*] The music industry doesn't have enough influence to shape today's social consciousness
Sure, I'm old and people around me have other priorities besides talking and listening to music. But I find the same is true with younger people. They barely talk about music. Bands are not popping up here and there, but DJs are plentiful. That's definitely evidence that electronica is the mainstream and the only genre that's keeping music alive in the public consciousness. That's not to say I dislike electronica. In fact, I do like it a lot. But I feel musicians find it more convenient to be 1-man shows (DJs) because it costs less money, and it's easier to produce music through a computer than having to gather 4-5 people in the same room, lugging all their gear to make a song - with very little return of investment.

[*] Music feels cheap with Spotify / Spotify doesn't want you to FOCUS
Spotify is the main culprit for this. Since the internet, we went from intense resistance against Napster to complete acceptance of Spotify. I think Spotify is very helpful when I'm trying to find new music, but something just feels "off" when I'm using it. I like to get on and discover stuff, but also want to get out quickly. The content is just too overwhelming in my opinion. The whole service encourages short attention spans - because there's always "other recommended artists similar to Incubus" that you might like, conveniently placed at the sidebar just a click away. In my opinion, listeners who use Spotify have immense difficulty maintaining focus when trying to fully experiencing an album because there's just too many distractions. This ultimately leads to a cheaper listening experience.
Music consumption in the 90s was all about focus. First, you identify an artist, a song, and you decide if you want it. You go to a record store, hoping to find the album, and once you discover that your "Radio City" outlet has limited copies of "Make Yourself", you get so excited. Then there's the $5-10 cassette price tag, you commit, shell out the cash, knowing you now own a genuine copy of the song that literally no one else can play unless they recorded it on the radio. You listen to the cassette, then there's the album art and the liner notes, the lyrics, the often hilariously written credits section. You read through it all and the music ends. That, to me, was what made music back in the day feel so precious. You never lose focus during listening sessions.
Sans the internet and Spotify, I have no doubt I will have a similar experience to bands today that I feel are miles better than bands in the 90s. I could only imagine what it would be like to stumble upon a record store that sells a cassette of The Contortionist's "Clairvoyant" complete with liner notes. Even the B/W album art of swirling dead branches now feels more immense.

I would also add that in order to outweigh the effects of Spotify, you need to invest in your listening experience. Get a good sounding-rig. Preferably 2.1. Doesn't have to be audiophile-quality. Just enough to play loud with defined low-ends and crisp highs. Turn the volume up and feel your body vibrate to the music.

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Re: Discovering new music

Postby Jelger » Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:10 pm

Good post, Tinky.

I also do not blame the quality of music. There is still some quality stuff coming out, and even I catch some of it even with my limited discovering these past few years.

I do, however, feel that Spotify/streaming in general is causing interesting and especially non-mainstream artists under the radar. Not consiously or as a business plan, but simpely by existing. The fact that labels, producers know so much more about their audience, can make them target very specific audiences as well. They know exactly what works for the largest audience or their target audience and I feel especially pop-producers act accordingly. Thus, much of very visible layer of the music scene is dominated by cookie-cutter pop, electronic or rap-music, that fits the wave that's riding high at that point in time, while those making an effort to do something creative or original - regardless of genre - are just not getting the attention.

That's not too say that everything popular is cookie-cutter or bad, I really like some modern pop-music. But you do notice so many similar trends and you can also make a pretty sizeable list of bands that adapted their sound/grew into a formulaic modern pop-sound. Again: not saying that's all there is out there these days, but it is what lays on the surface at all the streaming services. And to find the rest, you really have to make an effort, which I hardly find myself doing.

That being said: Spotify hasn't changed the way I consume an album. With iTunes/local files I sometimes put on a full album, sometimes hit shuffle and just listened whatever came on. With Spotify I do the same. And I can perfectly listen to a full album without being distracted by Spotify, mostly because it's usually running in the background and I don't scroll through the app or program while listening. That might not be the case for most people though, because with almost every new album being released, save maybe the really major artists, you can look at the numbers for each song on the album and usually it drops with every next song on the record (singles of course being an exception), regardless of quality of the songs. You can actually see people tuning out half way through the album and switching to something else by those numbers. It's pretty interesting.

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Re: Discovering new music

Postby tingky » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:49 am

Jelger wrote:I do, however, feel that Spotify/streaming in general is causing interesting and especially non-mainstream artists under the radar. Not consiously or as a business plan, but simpely by existing. The fact that labels, producers know so much more about their audience, can make them target very specific audiences as well. They know exactly what works for the largest audience or their target audience and I feel especially pop-producers act accordingly. Thus, much of very visible layer of the music scene is dominated by cookie-cutter pop, electronic or rap-music, that fits the wave that's riding high at that point in time, while those making an effort to do something creative or original - regardless of genre - are just not getting the attention.

But that doesn't explain the diverse mainstream back in the day. The music industry was as greedy then but it managed to milk every genre that manages to chart. Perhaps it's indicative of how lucrative music was since they were not only successful at promoting their top artists, but also managed to promote and make respectable bucks for its not so popular ones - the ones that were original and really pushing the envelope of creativity. Fast forward to today and music isn't as lucrative, so the industry did its research and narrowed down its investments to genres that are popular with the youth to ensure maximum profit.

What really bothers me is how bands are struggling to make a living these days. They often produce their own records using their own money and barely get any return, so they have to tour for extended periods, sell merch, sign on with brands that make them signature models of their instruments to make enough to be able to call it a profitable job. It just sucks to see bands who are clearly broke and have to maintain day jobs just to continue making music. It's hard work. It's a deterrent for future musicians. As long as your song is playing on the radio, you should be earning upwards of a decent living without having to do anything post your album release (others party, shoot drugs, and get into all sorts of trouble). That is no longer the case now and I don't think a potential musician would be enticed to take the dive either.

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Re: Discovering new music

Postby Jelger » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:13 am

Yeah you're right. I think the days of the band as the main form of people creating music are over. Not in a performing sense. Seeing a hip-hop/crossover-artists like Anderson. Paak performing with a full band, or The Prodigy with a real drummer and guitarists, or Justin Timberlake with a full backing-band, back-up singers and trumpets and the like trumps a DJ and a rapper or just a DJ in my opinion, and I don't think that will go away.

For the writing and creation of music, however, I doubt the band will ever return to it's peak. But that also means that small venues will probably diminish, making it even harder for bands to survive. No venues means no places to play, to fail and learn. It's a grim future for bands, I think.

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Re: Discovering new music

Postby tingky » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:15 am

I certainly hope we haven't seen the last of band musicianship in the mainstream. The musical landscape is very worrying though. People in general aren't interested in bands these days.

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Re: Discovering new music

Postby Jelger » Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:04 pm

Nope, which is indeed a shame.

But then Chris Stapleton brings out the most boring, middle-of-the-road rock-track with Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran. I guarantee that that song will get nominated for a Best Rock Song-Grammy, along something by Imagine Dragons, Coldplay or Bastille.
The state of mainstream/popular rock and band music is very poor.

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Re: Discovering new music

Postby tingky » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:16 pm

And it's not like those immensely popular bands a decade ago have quit. They're still out there making music with little to no interest from the mainstream at all, and end up looking like washed up fools. There's just no market. (The market has matured, got jobs, got pregnant, and could no longer fit music into their schedules.)

Some bands have successfully assimilated into the mainstream, Maroon 5 being a glaring example. Good on them. I still enjoy "harder to breathe" and "this love" and concede these are probably the last songs I'll enjoy from them. There are other options, the only downside being they're lonely options. But it isn't too bad. I recall a time when every college student had a shared interest in Incubus and similar bands. These days, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who's interested in ANY music at all let alone passionate about it.

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Re: Discovering new music

Postby Jelger » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:49 am

Then again, I don't want the late 90's nu-metal bloom to return either.

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Re: Discovering new music

Postby Blind Melon » Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:13 am

tingky wrote:I certainly hope we haven't seen the last of band musicianship in the mainstream. The musical landscape is very worrying though. People in general aren't interested in bands these days.

I don't want to go far off topic with this comment, but I think people in general aren't interested in a lot... It seems increasingly difficult to have a meaningful conversation and people are more concerned with their social media... No real original thought happening, just sharing of memes, some dumb string of emojis, or someone else's quote from eons ago. Almost like zombification, haha. I think that carries over and reflects in music... Just seems lacking in care and emotion, and that's why it comes off bland and regurgitated.

Apologies if that's a little bit of a ramble.
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Re: Discovering new music

Postby Jelger » Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:45 am

I get what you mean. I think we all can name a lot of examples of songs that just ooze emotion from the 90's and before. Sure, some after that too, but not as much that reached the mainstream.

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Re: Discovering new music

Postby Blind Melon » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:18 am

2000s was definitely a turning point for culture in general, and I really do think that's attributed to the computer/internet. But hey, maybe we're just cynical curmudgeons?
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