Instead of focusing on finding artists that are already well established, I will now move on to discuss ways in which to discover artists that are new, or fairly undeveloped in regards to their musical career. Spotify is a resource that I use on a daily basis, but there are other websites and methods for discovering new music that can work better than Spotify. The reason for this is that, for an artist to upload their music through Spotify, they must do so through a label or distributer rather than directly uploading to Spotify’s website. This creates a holdup for many artists who have to wait weeks for their music to be uploaded, if it gets uploaded at all. However, one website that allows anyone to upload their music directly to the website without the use of a middleman is SoundCloud. This means that if you take the time to dig around and search through SoundCloud, you are sure to find some amazing brand-new artists! Another resource is the website YouTube, which allows anyone to make uploads; however it is important to note that SoundCloud is strictly for music uploads while YouTube has all manner of content. Knowing this, I suggest trying both websites to find out which one works better for you. Personally, I think both websites have a great community, but SoundCloud offers better opportunities in regards to finding brand-new musical artists. Another great way to discover truly new artists and music is by going to local concerts. Most cities will have at least one concert venue with events happening usually every weekend, if not more. Going to these live concerts will not only benefit you, by providing you with knowledge of new artists and giving you a memorable experience, but it will also provide great support for up-and-coming artists. If you invest some of your time and use the correct resources, you will be able to discover some truly new artists in no time!
This week, the featured artist is record producer and DJ, Nosaj Thing. Also known as Jason Chung, Nosaj Thing is originally from Los Angeles, California and has been making a name for himself within the industry since 2006. As of May 2016 he has three studio albums and two EPs of his own, along with a number of productions he has done for other artists. I highly suggest you check out his 2015 released album, Fated, and if you ever get the chance you have to see him perform live!
Up to now, this blog has been heavily focused on finding new artists and music, which really puts a spotlight on the artists themselves. Focus on the artists alone has left a particular individual or team, vitally instrumental to the creation of the music you enjoy, unaccounted for, unrepresented, and unappreciated. This team, or single person in most cases, is of course the music producer. A music producer is as important as the artists themselves and the music you enjoy listening to would not be the same without them. While some artists do in fact self-produce, there are countless other artists who enlist the services of a music producer to help them realize their vision. A music producer has to balance a million tasks including being a financer, organizer, and visionary, and somehow come out with a finished album or song as the end product. Music producers really are the unsung heroes who stand behind many of your favorite artists. Now, how does this relate to music discovery? Well, the same methods I have been talking about for discovering new artists can be transferred and applied to music producers. I encourage you to research and investigate who the producer is for some of your favorite music because chances are you will like their particular style of producing. With this step completed, you can then find new music by investigating what other artists that particular producer has worked with. One newer trend that is starting to gain popularity is for artists to credit who their music producer was for each of their songs. This is usually done in much the same way that featured artists are recognized, but instead of the song title saying, “feat.” it will instead say, “prod.” This shift towards recognizing the music producer on particular music tracks, as well as the artist shows the growing appreciation that all artists should show towards their music producer.
This week’s featured artist section will actually feature two artists. One of which is self-produced, while the other artist makes great use of saying who actually produced their tracks by naming them within the actual song titles. First is twenty six year old self-produced Ryan Hemsworth who is originally from Nova Scotia, Canada. He is mainly an electronic based artist and as of April 2016 he has an astounding three studio albums, two mixtapes, and seven EPs. He also has an impressive catalog of singles, remixes, and productions, which he has done for other artists. I would suggest you check out his album Alone for the First Time and his Taking Flight EP. Next up is an artist who goes by the stage name Bladee. Bladee, also know as Benjamin Reichwald, is a twenty two year old rapper and singer originally from Sweden whose music is often classified as cloud rap. I highly recommend you check out his debut mixtape from 2014 entitled, Gluee.
While this blog has focused primarily on the aspects of discovering new artists and music, it is now time to shift gears slightly and tie in the idea of supporting artists into the main topic of music discovery. If there is a particular artist that you enjoy and appreciate then why would you not want to help support them monetarily in some way?
If people want to pay money to go see a movie or a play, so why is it that when it comes to the entertainment area of music that people often times never pay money for the music they love? While most people, myself included, would agree that free things are always better; the artists who rely on their music to make a living would disagree. I am not saying that you need to buy every album your favorite artist has ever put out. The reason being is that for most people, physically owning music is a trend that has died out. However, there are still a few key things you can do in order to help support the artists you discover and love. The first and seemingly most obvious point is to avoid illegally downloading, and sharing music. Moving on, if you use a music streaming service, it is a good idea to actually subscribe and pay money for that service. The reason being, artists stand to make substantially more money from the users who pay for streaming services in comparison to users who do not. Lastly, most people completely forget about this aspect of music, but it is one method artists can make a majority of their money and that is through concerts. Live music events provide you the opportunity to experience your favorite artists in person while also helping to support the artist monetarily. It is also important to note that most artists will sell merchandise at their live events and most times 100% of merchandise profit will go directly to the artist. Musical artists provide listeners not only entertainment, but everything from pure enjoyment to true happiness, so why would you not want to help support them in return?
This week’s featured artist is XXYYXX, who I actually had the pleasure of experiencing in person by going to his concert in Denver last December. XXYYXX is the stage name for electronic music artist and producer Marcel Everett. XXYYXX is Originally from Orlando, Florida, and at just 20 years old, as of April 2016, he has already released two albums along with an impressive number of mixtapes, EPs, collaborations, singles, and remixes. I suggest you listen to his self-titled 2012 album XXYYXX from top to bottom. If you like what you hear, I highly recommend you go to one of his concerts as he is amazing to see live!
When searching for new music, like all aspects of life, it is important to always keep an open mind. Sure it is always nice to find new artists in and around one particular style that you enjoy, but if you never take risks with new music then you will never truly expand your musical knowledge. Most everyone will tell you that there are at least one or two styles of music that they just absolutely “hate.” I suggest you pick a style or two that you already think you dislike and give it an honest listen. For this to work you have to listen without any preconceived notions and listen intently, not just put some music on in the background. After you have finished listening, you might find that you still do not like that particular style of music, but there is also a chance that you will become more open to enjoying new musical styles. I recommend you try this activity from time to time and even revisit styles that you have tried before to see if your opinion has changed over time. A philosophy that I always keep in mind is that you do not have to personally enjoy every style of music, but you do need to respect all styles of music. This idea of always keeping an open mind should be applied not just when searching for new music, but when someone shares new music with you as well. The music that you like is very personal to you, so always be respectful and open-minded when someone else is opening up and sharing their music with you. Keeping an open mind is simple to practice in regards to music, and can be applied to all areas of your life as well.
Keeping with the theme this week, I have selected an artist that is different from the styles I have suggested in the past. Rag’n’Bone Man also known as Rory Graham is a vocalist originally from London whose roots trace back to soul and blues music. His discography includes one album, four EPs, and a number of features with other established artists including Bastille. I highly suggest you give Rag’n’Bone Man’s soulful and haunting vocals a listen on his Disfigured EP!
Previously in this blog, I covered discovering new artists and music by using broad indicators, such as similar artists and genres. Now I want to discuss the idea of analyzing the music you enjoy in an effort to look for the minute details that may actually be the underlying factors as to why you enjoy certain types of music. What I mean by this is, say you enjoy one particular singer very much. You may really enjoy the instrumentation that this particular singer usually uses, or you might enjoy a specific aspect of their voice, such as the overall raspy, or soulful quality. The first step is to pick a song and begin to pinpoint and isolate certain qualities of the music. Next, you must determine whether or not those qualities are something you find appealing. With these specific qualities in mind there will be an entire new world of music open to you. As you continue to find more qualities you deem attractive, you can keep refining or expanding your musical tastes and knowledge. One great service that uses a technique quite similar to the process I have described above is Pandora Internet Radio. Pandora takes over 450 musical qualities along with your personal input into account when deciding song recommendations to you, the listiner. With a little bit of time and dedication, you can begin to analyze the music you listen to and start to use the information you gather as another means to go about discovering new artists and music.
The artist of the week for this post is Garrett Borns, better known as BØRNS. Originally from Michigan, BØRNS is a singer and musician who released his debut single in late 2014. Relatively new to the game, he has released two EPs and one full-length studio album as of April 2016. I recommend you check out his Candy EP, as well as his 2015 album, Dopamine! BØRNS also has a small collection of acoustic renditions of his own songs that are definitely worth a look. I highly recommend the song, “Seeing Stars,” but all of his acoustic songs are worth a listen!
While actively seeking out new artists and music has been the main focus of this blog up to this point, I want to address the possibilities offered by passively finding new music. What I mean by passively finding new music is that new music will find its way to you without you needing to put forth any thought or effort. This idea might sound unrealizable or unlikely, but this process happens to everyone on a daily basis. Think about this, have you ever been shopping in a store that played music out loud? Have you ever walked by someone on the street that had music playing loud enough so that you could hear, or even passed by a live performer on the street? Have you ever seen a commercial with music playing in the background? We are all bombarded with new music every day apart from what we are already actively seeking out. The next step is to use this exposure to new music to our advantage. If you are out in the world and hear some music playing that sparks your interest in even the slightest way, I encourage you to investigate. The hook of a song might get stuck in your head and the easiest way to find out what that song is would be to simply Google the lyrics. This method is one easy way to turn the music we are exposed to every day into a means of passively finding new artists and music.
For this week, the featured artist is SBTRKT (pronounced subtract). SBTRKT is an entity created by Aaron Jerome, which he uses to create and distribute music. He is known for wanting to keep himself as a person as separate from the actual music as possible, even going as far as wearing a mask while he performs live. He does this as a way to create anonymity so that the listener does not associate a face with his music but rather his music serves as its own entity. SBTRKT is known for often collaborating with the vocalist Sampha who I recommend you check out as well. SBTRKT currently has two studio albums, the self-titled SBTRKT and Wonder Where We Land, along with six EPs. He has also recently been working on some new and innovative musical ideas. Specifically, on March 25, 2016 he announced and released a new project dubbed a non-album, named SAVE YOURSELF. The non-album is a collection of songs that is aimed at bringing new music to fans sooner and more often than the traditional album cycle, thus creating a more continuous process and fluid experience for the listeners. Personally, I find the idea of a non-album to be both innovative and forward looking, and I hope you give both SBTRKT and Sampha a listen!
This blog is primarily focused on discovering new artists and music. However, at the core this blog is focused on finding enjoyment and fulfillment through listening to music. This means that it is vitally important to not let yourself get so caught up in finding new music that you forget to enjoy the music that you already know and love. Sometimes it is important to go back to your roots and listen to some music you already enjoy, instead of just searching for new music 24/7. This can mean anything from stopping and taking a moment to listen to an artist you have been into lately to taking a trip down memory lane to listen to a favorite artist of yours that you may not have listened in years. If you recently discovered a new artist, you may find it more enjoyable to stay in the moment and listen to that one artist for a while rather than pressing forward to look for new artists and music. If you decide to get back to basics and revisit some old music that you have not listened to for an extended period of time, you may find that this revisit will give you some newfound perspective. Revisiting an old artist might even possibly lead to you discovering some music by them which you had not previously heard. This process creates a cycle resulting in the rediscovery of music you already know as well as new music that has been waiting right in front of you all along.
Sticking with the theme this week, for the featured artist I have decided to revisit one of my personal favorites, Atmosphere. Atmosphere is a hip-hop duo originating from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The duo was formed in 1989 and consists of rapper Sean Daley better know by the stage name Slug and DJ/producer Anthony Davis also known as Ant. Well known for their association with the Rhymesayers record label; since their formation, the group has released eight studio albums and an astounding ten EPs. Their most recent studio album release was in 2014 with Southsiders, but I highly suggest you check out parts of their entire discography both old and new.
Previously in this blog I mentioned the website Spotify as being one of the invaluable resources that I use on a daily basis to find new artists and music. Spotify is definitely a great resource, but there are many other websites that serve as excellent tools for music discovery as well. Not to mention the plethora of non-web based resources everyone has at their disposal whether they realize it or not. Along with Spotify, some other great websites and services that can be used for music discovery are YouTube, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp. Platforms such as Spotify, YouTube, and SoundCloud are all mainly used for the purposes of sharing and discovering music, while Bandcamp is primarily used as a way for artists to sell their music. While web resources are great, especially considering the convince factor of them being completely online and accessible anywhere, there are still ways to discover new artists and music offline that are much more personalized. One of your greatest resources when it comes to music discovery is your friends and family members. It might sound cliché, but no website is going to know you better than them. I believe it is important to talk about you musical interests with the people you are close to, thus opening up endless opportunities for musical sharing. Ask your friends for suggestions about new artists to investigate and if you find some new music that you think a friend would enjoy, be sure to send it their way! If a friend sends you some music it is important to always give them an honest opinion of what you thought after listening. An honest opinion is vitally important because your input will help to shape what music your friends send you in the future. Lastly, if a friend sends you some new music, always be sure to return the favor by sending them some back once you have discovered something worthy of sharing.
The featured artist this week is brother duo Hippie Sabotage. Hailing from Sacramento, California, these two brothers started to make music around the mid-2000s. The duo currently has five full-length albums to their credit with all of them being released in 2014. I could only suggest one; I would without a doubt suggest that you listen to their release entitled, The Sunny Album (Deluxe Edition).
Once you find a new artist that you really enjoy, the next step is to continue exploring that specific artist. If you hear one song that you really like, chances are you will probably like most of their music. Personally, once I find and hear a new song that I love, I will check out more music by that artist to see if I enjoy them as a whole. The method that I tend to use is selecting and listening to one album from top to bottom. If I find the artist’s album to be enjoyable, I will then move on to their next album, EP, or mixtape until I have listened to their entire discography. I believe that the method of listening to an artist’s entire album start to finish is really important because that is how they intended their album to be listened to and enjoyed. Every song on an album has been carefully thought out and selected for a reason, so it only makes sense for you, the listener, to enjoy the album in full. Now, for artists that I have a deep interest in, I will investigate them further and research outside information about them. I like to read or watch videos about my favorite artists to learn more about their life and story, thus creating a stronger connection between the music and me. Once you become invested in a certain artist, you can go beyond the act of just surface listening and instead begin to form a deep emotional connection with the music. Once you have listened to an artist’s complete discography and done some external research on them, then you can truly call yourself an expert on that specific artist. You can repeat this method over and over again to continually explore artists that are new to you, slowly building up your musical knowledge and expertise.
For this week, the featured artist is Scott Mescudi, better know by his stage name, Kid Cudi. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Kid Cudi is best know for being a rapper/singer, songwriter, and producer. He has two Grammy award wins to his name along with four other Grammy nominations. The method I outlined in the above blog post is exactly how I came to be so fond of Kid Cudi and his music. I originally started by only listening to a few of his songs, but I gradually came to listen to his entire discography. Many of his lyrics struck a chord with me as well, so I began to investigate and learn more about his life’s story. Kid Cudi definitely has his own unique style, but he is also not one to shy away from constant experimentation and innovation. He currently has five solo studio albums with his latest release being in December of 2015, along with one mixtape and a vast array of singles. I would highly recommend his albums Man On The Moon: The End Of Day(2009) and Indicud(2013) as great starting places, and then continuing on to the rest of his music from there. Kid Cudi is known for making concept albums, meaning that his albums are meant to tell a story when listened from beginning to end.
If you are interested in finding new artists and music but you do not know where to start, then generally a good way to start is by selecting a genre. You can begin by either selecting a genre that you already love or a new one you have yet to explore. Selecting a specific genre gives you a broad spectrum of places to go, creating opportunities and access to an endless amount of new artists and music. With your selected genre in mind, simply start listening to artists associated with that specific style. One way you can begin the discovery process is by listening to the more established artists who have become synonymies with a particular genre to see if you have any sort of interest. However, some people may find it more appealing to begin their journey into a new genre with the more obscure or developing artists. This method of taking a broad approach to music discovery can be effective for many people, and it is oftentimes less intimidating as well. This is because once you have found a genre that piques your interest it becomes indefinitely easier to zero in on specific artists within that genre, as opposed to blindly looking for new artists with no regard to a musical style that is of interest to you. Once you have perfected this technique it is vastly important to begin expanding your musical view by exploring new genres in order to discover even more new artists and music.
In the theme of genres, this week’s featured artist represents the revival of West Coast hip-hop and rap. A native of Long Beach, California, Vince Staples is a developing artist who has been rapidly gaining recognition within recent years. At only twenty-one years old, Vince Staples released his debut album titled Summertime ’06 in June of 2015. However, Vince Staples had been hard at work since long before the release of his debut album with an EP, four mixtapes, and plenty of features in other artist’s songs to his name. Whether you consider yourself a fan of rap or not, I cannot recommend Vince Staples highly enough.