A Good Question: How Many People REALLY Care About Music Discovery?

Every once in a while I get nostalgic for the pre-Internet days when we were very selective about the albums we bought and then played the damn things over and over again. If there was a song in the tracklist we didn’t like, we let it run anyway rather than skip over it. We became intimately acquainted with every note and nuance on the record.

Today, though, that’s changed. When you’re a hardcore music nerd bred on the infinite all-you-can-eat buffet of the Internet, all you can think about is the music you haven’t heard yet. We spend all our time searching and researching music and not enough time savoring it. That’s because we know that no matter how much we’re listening to now there are potentially millions and millions of songs out there that we’ll like more–if we could just find them. So we keep searching and searching and searching.

But not everyone is so obsessive. I was reminded by this in an article from The DIY Musician which cautions us to slow down, take our time and learn to enjoy music the old fashioned way. It’s healthier.

I have a couple friends that are obsessed with music discovery. For them it’s a 24/7 pursuit. All day, every day they’re listening to the latest releases and playlists, skipping over anything they’ve already heard. I asked one of these friends once when he was compiling his Year-End Best-Of list how many times he’d actually listened to his favorite album from the past 12 months. His answer was something like, “Oh, maybe two or three times at most. I just can’t go back and re-listen to things with so much more music to discover.”

Theoretically, I get it. He wants to be in-the-know, up on the latest trends, or to satisfy his inner collector. But emotionally, I don’t understand at all. I get obsessed with songs or albums that move me, not the process by which I discovered them or the promise that there’s more great music out beyond the horizon. When I fall in love with an artist, their CD stays in my car for weeks or months. Their songs are on repeat in my Spotify (and now Apple Music) player.

So for me, and I imagine for most people, the problem has never been music discovery. I’ve got plenty of music-geek friends who can make solid recommendations. I like a lot of different kinds of music. I have a few go-to sources I can check online when I need to try something new. And we can all dip back into the past to mine the classics we missed, too.

No, the problem has never been music discovery, it’s finding enough time to fully appreciate the music I’ve already come in contact with. Or to put it another way, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never — that NOBODY can ever — hear it all, so I try to concentrate on having a deeper experience with whatever good stuff happens to cross my path. Quality, not quantity.

Read the whole article here. Thoughts?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

5 thoughts on “A Good Question: How Many People REALLY Care About Music Discovery?

  • September 25, 2015 at 10:48 am

    I agree 100%. I have accumulated over a thousand accounts I follow on Soundcloud and the lack of listening time is the issue rather than lack of available music.

  • September 25, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    True – too much music, too little time. Definitely not all of it is good, so we end up being the filters. I’m glad there are excellent services like Songza – which has led to many great discoveries for me.

    A great thing to do is just throw what you want to hear on your phone/music player and shuffle it all the time. Mix some of your long term favorites with new stuff you maybe heard about but didn’t really get around to listening to. In between stuff you’re familiar with you’ll give the new stuff a chance, and you’ll find the standout tracks in no time and become acquainted with at least a limited amount of music at once. You can give it the time it deserves, because it’s true that plenty of things take repeated plays to really get their hooks into you. But of course that method requires downloading music… which not everyone likes to do.

    Like it or not, services like Napster really could be great for discovering music back in the day, with chat features and the ability to swap music with people you knew, and if you were smart you went out and bought it after hearing it, instead of sticking with the shitty 128kbps MP3s. Streaming is like that, but many people don’t care about getting better quality, and most people aren’t really recommending stuff to each other on a personal level it seems. Maybe here or there, but it’s much more scattered now for sure.

    Personally, I don’t really talk music with friends anymore – not sure how many other people do – so it’s become a hit-or-miss of keeping up with music news or blogs for discoveries, like the article mentions. Which is exactly why music/playlist curation is definitely important, and why we need more of it!

  • September 27, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    Yeah,I agree wholeheartedly. Makes me want to make the final plunge and go back to vinyl.

  • September 27, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    When I think of all the fabulous Vinyl albums
    I used to have it almost makes me cry.
    The transparent vinyl version of ACDC,s Powerage.Listened to it back to front….

  • September 28, 2015 at 1:11 am

    I really enjoyed digging into Chris’ article and then Courtney’s new article about the “why?” of music discovery.

    I would be interested to get your reaction to the new music streaming service my team and I are launching. We’re previewing our beta next weekend (Android only for now), full version will be out by the end of the year.

    We specialize in finding amazing indie artists who otherwise get lost on other services. And I agree — there is a TON of amazing music happening right now that is being treated like “bricks” in an endless road of discovery. We are living in the middle of a creative renaissance but no one knows about it because the current distribution options don’t work.

    We think ours will. We’re doing a blend of discovery and savoring music, with a financial model that actually pays artists (if you can imagine such a crazy thing). We want to not only help find great underground artists, but deliver them to people in a format that allows them to really “dig in” and appreciate the music. And create a new ecosystem where artists flourish in a creative renaissance.

    More info:

    Would love to keep you in the loop and hear your thoughts.




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