Tuesday Tips #1: Finding New Music

As someone that spends a lot of their day and what feels like their entire life discovering new music, I thought it was only right that I put together a post on how to find new music. I know I’m in a somewhat enviable position of spending my days listening to new music, getting PR emails on new bands and checking out local shows and though I do this all for free it is honestly for the love of music that I’m doing it. For me, these tips are obvious things and they probably are obvious to a lot of people but for those of you that are a little stuck in your musical rut then I hope my tips below can help you at least a little.

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Spotify/Soundcloud/YouTube

Spotify, Soundcloud and YouTube are all quite literally packed full of new music just waiting to be discovered and are some of my favourite places to look and find new music online. Spotify’s Discover section can be a mixed bag with some very obvious choices of bands you will have heard of but in between the not very helpful choices there are some great gems. Whether it is an older and forgotten band or track or a brand new act that is reminiscent of your favourite band, it is always worth having a check on there every so often for a look at what they are recommending based on your listening habits.

When it comes to Soundcloud and YouTube though I recommend really taking your time to find some good acts on there, they do have recommended tracks sidebars and while Soundcloud’s is usually very good and has led me to some great artists and tracks over the years, YouTube’s isn’t as much of a gold mine for new music rather songs you already know. If you have an hour or two to spare though YouTube is good for finding new music and discovering some seriously amazing music videos that have been made over the years [there are many]. Following record labels and magazines channels is usually a good idea for finding what new videos bands from their roster have dropped or who the magazines are featuring at the moment which always brings up new stuff. Labels and magazines to follow: XL Recordings, Rocksound, Kerrang, Boiler Room TV, BBC Radio 1, Epitaph Records and many more.

And for a look at a pretty good music reviewer who has proved that reviews of albums can come in video format, check out The Needle Drop

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Twitter

Follow bands on Twitter, search music hashtags, follow local magazines/music sites, follow your local venues, follow the big magazines and radio stations and keep track of what the most informed writers, DJ’s and industry pro’s are talking about. Honestly, a lot of what I pick up about what is happening, especially at a local level, is on Twitter. These days Twitter is the advertisement for smaller gigs instead of printing tons of posters, it’s cheaper and has a bigger reach.

When I was the live music editor for Social Sheffield, it was my job to be up to date and in the know with the gig listings in Sheffield and what bands [local or not] are playing where and when. I’d spend hours of my week searching listings, finding out about the bands, writing about them online, tweeting them and trying to build up a good reputation with promoters. Recently, we ran a live music chat as part of the #socialsheffieldhour Twitter chats which united the industry in Sheffield in discussing the scene, venues and talking about what is on at the moment. I know not everywhere has this but if you see any music chats then get involved!

Some people I recommend you follow: Zane Lowe – @zanelowe, Clash Magazine – @clash_music, Lauren Laverne – @laurenlaverne, 6 Music News – @BBC6MusicNews, Peter Robinson – @Popjustice, Huw Stephens – @huwstephens, Guardian Music – @guardianmusic, Steve Lamacq – @BBClamacqshow

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Radio

Ah, the radio that little box in the corner or little pop up window on your computer that can bring to you some of the best new music around. For me, it is all about BBC Radio, commercial radio is way too chart based to play anything I’ve not heard at least 500 times that week already. The best station for new music in my opinion is good old 6Music [thank God we never lost that!], the DJ’s on there are some of the best around and consistently bring new music to our attention at all times of day whether it’s the breakfast show, drive time, late nights or weekend slots you will always find new music, old classics, forgotten tunes and the best of the rest from many genres on there. Shows to check out – Tom Robinson, Steve Lamacq and Lauren Laverne for definite.

Radio 1 is also a pretty good bet for new music particularly the late night shows which are packed of the best in new music from around the internet. Huw Stephens is by far the new music aficionado on that station and for new music tips I always check out his recommendations, from his radio shows, his Twitter account, NME columns and helping to curate Introducing stages at festivals around the UK, he knows his new music. Whereas more mainstream time slots you will find Zane Lowe’s weeknight 7-9pm show bursting with great tunes and new music as well as The Rock Show which has now been moved to a great timeslot on Sunday nights from 7-10pm. On Radio 2, there is DJ’s such as Jo Whiley, Bob Harris’ Sunday night slot and Dermot O’Leary’s Saturday afternoon slot always features some great new tracks and on Dermot’s show live sessions from up and coming acts.

Proof right there that radio is not dead but alive and kicking and providing us with plenty of amazing new music daily.

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Check out local listings online or in a free local magazine

Some of the most up to date and in the know people in your city will be the people that work for local magazines or local sites that talk about music in any way, shape or form. A few years ago, I did some work experience at Sheffield listings magazine Exposed and one of the main features of the magazine and their website was updating the local gig listings [as well as culture and entertainment] for every week and month. There is also Social Sheffield in my city that updates their site and their Twitter pages with the latest gigs on in the city. We are quite lucky here to have that sort of thing in place but spending so much time around the listings and having worked for both in some form over the years gives me a slight step above on what is going on.

If you do have a local listings mag, they are usually free and found in independent pubs and stores around the city, then pick one up and if they have a Twitter or Facebook page follow them and stay up to date online. However, if you don’t have one maybe you could set up a site yourself and use some of the above methods to find out what is going on, email venue promoters and get in touch with local bands online. Because if you know what is going on you will find some great new talent right on your doorstep, I guarantee you that.

Go to local shows!

Most are free so you can go, check out the bands and even if you don’t like any of them you haven’t spent anything so you lose nothing but more than likely if you head to a venue catering for your favourite genre, for example metal fans head to the metal clubs, rock fans then go to the rock and dive style bars, then you will more than likely find at least one gem of a brilliant live act. There is plenty of talent out there playing shows every night or at least every week so make sure you check them out and support your local music scene and the venues that take a massive chance on their budgets by putting these shows on in the first place.

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