Today, we have no shortage of free or low-cost tools for finding music. But as you sit there listening to the same eight songs on loop because even though you want to listen to something new, you have no clue where to start, that access can feel like a blessing and a curse.
Finding new music should be easier than ever. You’ve got a database of the world’s music from all times and places at your fingertips. The emergence of the internet has provided new artists a viable way to skip the gatekeeping of studios and deliver their music directly to you in ways that weren’t possible before. You’ve got algorithms on apps like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube that recommend songs based on those eight songs you’ve got on loop.
As easy as it should be, it also feels harder than ever. There are literally millions of artists in that database so finding something you will like is very much a needle in the haystack exercise. You’ll listen to hundreds of songs you hate for each “oh my god this is a revelation” song you discover.
Trusting in our overlord, the algorithm, helps — but it can also pigeonhole you into a niche and make it difficult to expand your horizons into new genres. How do you convince the algorithm that you’d also like to sample some sounds outside of your niche once in a while?
Trusting in your friends and in your social media circle for recommendations helps, too — but again, you are limited to the genres and artists your circle has been exposed to, an exposure that is becoming increasingly limited as they, too, are subject to the will of the algorithm.
It’s also just psychologically draining. Aside from record producers, music journalists, and others who have made exploring new music their job, most of us are only listening to music when we want to enjoy it — and methodically searching for new artists and genres, including all the time spent listening to stuff that just isn’t it, is honestly not that enjoyable.
It’s easier to just stay in your bubble and hope that the algorithm gods or your friends introduce something new and cool now and then.
I get it.
That’s what Mixtapes aims to cut through. Every other Friday, I’ll bring you a roundup of new and new-to-you artists you can add to your rotation when you’re starting to feel like your music life is a bit stale.
From roundups of artists in a niche genre you’ve never heard of to lists of up-and-coming artists based on what you already like to new-to-you genres and artists from around the world, you’ll get regular, curated recommendations that aren’t constrained by algorithms or social bubbles.