I know most of you don’t care about what music anyone else listens to. You might not even listen to music. But this post is not really about the music I listen to. It’s more about the process I go through to discover new music.
How I Listen to Music
I used to have thousands of songs on my computer. I would listen to them on random throughout the day as I worked. My collection got unwieldy. When you have thousands of songs on your computer, it’s inevitable that some will fall out of favor. No, actually thousands of songs will fall out of favor.
When I finally got an iPhone, I could listen to my music from my phone. But I couldn’t store all of my music on my phone. I had to cut my collection down. By a lot.
I started the practice of listening to songs in sets of three, chosen at random. With each set of three songs, I would delete the one that gave me the least joy and keep the other two. Sometimes I would have a favorites playlist where I would put my favorite song of the three into in case I ever wanted to listen to only the best music on my phone. I did this until I hit the sweet spot of about 300 songs. 300 songs are roughly 24 hours of music. I figured that would be enough to keep my music fresh and always have something new to listen to.
When I learned about the joy of buying music from iTunes, I started purchasing a lot more music. But I didn’t have a lot of money. I had to set a budget for buying music. My budget ended up being enough to buy one new album each month. Naturally, because I couldn’t buy every album I wanted on a whim, I had to put a lot of thought into which album to buy each month.
How to choose a stellar album
Finding new music isn’t as simple as it used to be. The internet has broadened the selection of music available to you. I’ve found several ways of discovering new music over the years. Here are a few of my favorite methods.
Look up your favorite album on Wikipedia. Scroll down and look for a box on the right-hand side labeled “Professional Ratings.” There are probably a few review sites listed with star ratings they gave for the album. Visit the sources that gave the highest ratings and see what other albums they rate highly.
Recommendation engines have come a long way since the early days of Internet commerce. In iTunes, search for your favorite album. Click on the “Related” tab, then scroll down to the “Listeners Also Bought” sections. Chances are, you will find some music in the sections that you will like.
You can also search Google for “top ten” lists fitting your musical tastes. Go to Google and search “best album of 2017” and the name of your favorite album of 2017. Google will find lists of good new albums similar to your favorite album.
The old ways still work. Go to the Billboard charts at www.billboard.com. Find the chart of the style of music you like. Look through the lists and check out the music from any band that you are unfamiliar with.
My Music Hall of Fame
For each year, I pick my favorite artist who released a new album that year or the year before. I went all the way back to 1993 when choosing favorites because that’s when I began listening to music. These yearly picks made up my music hall of fame. Any band in the hall of fame got special treatment from me. I would follow their careers and buy their new albums whenever I could.
- Ace of Base (1993)
- The Cranberries (1994)
- Live (1995)
- Metallica (1996)
- In Flames (1997)
- Hammerfall (1998)
- Dark Tranquillity (1999)
- Children of Bodom (2000)
- Sentenced (2001)
- Theatre of Tragedy (2002)
- Evanescence (2003)
- Cradle of Filth (2004)
- Leaves’ Eyes (2005)
- Kamelot (2006)
- Nightwish (2007)
- Amorphis (2008)
- Timbaland (2009)
- Liv Kristine (2010)
- Sirenia (2011)
- Woods of Ypres (2012)
- Tyr (2013)
- Amaranthe (2014)
- Within Temptation (2015)
- Suidakra (2016)
This list is highly personalized to me. Obviously, not everyone can stomach death metal growls like I can. Go make your own list! Trust me, it’s loads of geeky fun.
My Five “True Fan” Musicians
There is a saying that you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. The same can hold true for musical tastes. Your taste in music is the sum of the five bands do you listen to the most.
There is another concept called “1,000 True Fans.” It comes from the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, Kevin Kelly. In the article, Kelly describes a true fan as someone who will buy just about anything an artist releases. For example, a true fan of Stephen King will read every novel he publishes.
Putting together these two concepts, here are five bands of which I am a true fan. Whenever any of these bands releases a new album, I buy it without a second thought.
- Dark Tranquillity
- Liv Kristine
What are your “true fan” musicians?