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I’m always on the hunt for new music. Although anime is my other artistic love, I have never been so adventurous than with music. I find it hard to describe the allure of trying to find the music video I haven’t seen in the list of videos Youtube recommends to me or the feeling when Pandora finds a new song it thinks I would like. There’s nothing like hearing a great song for the first time—whether one gets the chills from a truly poignant lyric or bass drop or the transcendental feeling of floating when one encounters a truly wonderful ambient or atmospheric track.
Ironically, in the age of internet streaming, it can be as hard as ever to try to leave your music comfort zone. Most streaming platforms try their best to cater to your tastes. Pandora allows you to have stations based off of your favorite artists, and Pandora recommends you songs based off of the attributes of the songs of the artists that you pick. Spotify provides an abundantly advanced discovery playlist every week, which uses the behavior of other people, the text of the song, and the song’s audio to curate a weekly playlist (Hackernoon). You can even go to Youtube and just start going down a musical rabbit hole of tapping on songs that were recommended from a video that you haven’t heard before. In fact, that’s how I found a bedroom pop singer called Clairo (embedded below will be her music video for “Flaming Hot Cheetos”). These methods are great, but one problem is that these playlists will only bring you so far into discovering music outside of what you know. Spotify may understand that you enjoy indie rock, but it’s hard to say whether they can introduce you to whole new genres without a bit of digging. Even Youtube can end up recommending more of the same types of music in that aforementioned rabbit hole.
When trying to branch out, it’s important to try to find music places and platforms that don’t try to cater to you. That way, there is a sort of “blue sky” feeling when trying to dive into music, a sort of uncomfortableness when trying out new music. One way is to try to find sites that go over all the new music released in the week. My personal favorite is the youtube channel The Needle Drop’s “Weekly Track Roundup” where the user, Anthony Fantano, goes over the best, worst, and meh tracks that came out during the week. I try my best to listen to all of the best, worst, and meh to see if I can find something new to listen to. However, my new favorite music discovery journey is more like a challenge of sorts. About a month ago, I was introduced to a website called Every Noise At Once. The site is a giant scatterplot of every single genre that is available on Spotify. At the time of this blog post, there are 1578 genres. The site itself is arranged in a way that all of the more mechanical music (electronic) are towards the top, and all the more organic music is towards the bottom (classical music). The right has genres that are more spikey and bouncy (techno or rap), and the left is more atmospheric (ambient music or metal). You have the option of scanning through the genres, where the site plays a random song sample of the genre that the scanner lands on. You can also sample Spotify playlists of the genres. My current goal is to listen to three songs each of every single genre on the scatterplot. To keep track, I have an excel sheet that lists every genre I’ve listened to on the site and a score of one or zero. Zero means that I likely won’t return to the genre based off of what I heard, and one means that I would return to it. I’m currently on genre number 50. Below is another find from exploring the “Dark Jazz” genre— Espen Erikson Trio - “In the Mountains."
So far, this newest music journey has been a lot of fun and quite enlightening. Not only has it been really cool to discover all the names of genres I’ve never heard before, like lowercase or Zeuhl, it has also been amazing to leave my comfort zone and explore my own music tastes (versus an algorithm's opinion of what my taste is). If you’re into music but have felt that you’ve been in a sort of genre rut, I strongly recommend checking out this website, if even to play around with it for a couple hours. I strongly recommend for any music fan to check out this site if you are in the mood for some music discovery.
You can check out The Weekly Track Roundup here and Every Noise at Once here.