It’s a task we are all faced with through life; finding new music. There is nothing wrong with the old, classic tunes. You can still keep your heartbeat racing with your favorite tracks on repeat in your running playlist. You might just keep your needle jumping back, again and again, to listen to that song that touches you deeply.
But what happens when the dopamine doesn’t kick in like it used to on the 100th time you have heard “Somebody That I Used To Know” or any of the hits off of Kanye’s old albums? How are you supposed to fill the gap that that song temporarily closed?
There are several methods most music listeners use. Many people remember times when they used Pandora to go into a rabbit hole of new music, each new song pairing so well with the last that made for an exclusive playlist. Some still use Pandora and feel as though these stations they make aren’t tailored for them, but are an experience for many. That isn’t the way it works. How Stuff Works says the following of the algorithm used by Pandora:
Pandora relies on a Music Genome that consists of 400 musical attributes covering the qualities of melody, harmony, rhythm, form, composition and lyrics… The Genome is based on an intricate analysis by actual humans (about 20 to 30 minutes per four-minute song) of the music of 10,000 artists from the past 100 years. The analysis of new music continues every day since Pandora’s online launch in August 2005. As of May 2006, the Genome’s music library contains 400,000 analyzed songs from 20,000 contemporary artists.
This means that if you hit like a few too many times on jazz songs while on an indie pop station, that station is just a ticking time bomb waiting to become exclusively Christmas music. It happens. Because X-mas jazz and other holiday music is great, maybe that station stays saved. What happens when you have too many of the now niche stations? Another has to be made. And another, until finally, you can’t find the specific station that always plays the best folk-a (polka folk crossover) music anymore.
Listeners tend to have graduated from Pandora to Spotify, due to its ability to play specific albums and songs. This removes the constant skipping of songs and waiting through the ads (unless you don’t have premium). When this happens, it can seem like the horizon is too broad to find good music or to know exactly what to listen to. That’s what makes the “Discover Weekly” feature of Spotify so great. Developed by Edward Newett, their algorithm has proved much more variable. In an interview with Wired, he states:
The biggest part is that it is deeply personalised to you. We’re finding ways, through personalised cover art and also by adding a track that we think would be familiar to you – based on artists you’ve listened to – to draw you in initially. Also, the more you listen to music, the better the recommendations for Discover Weekly become. And I think the playlist’s popularity also has something to do with this habit people got into: we were seeing tweets pretty early on that people were really looking forward to their new Discover Weekly and, by extension, Monday morning.
So by taking playlists and songs streamed by users with similar taste, it is able to make very customized playlists with ease by comparison. There is something to look forward to after a weekend, and the possibility of finding new artists is higher. This has become much more popular with music enthusiasts who know very specific bands they like and are wanting to find similar but different artists. Think of it as a music festival that you don’t have to buy tickets for or get dressed for. Or like a palm reader that is getting scary close to telling your entire human experience.
Now let’s say you’ve been on Spotify for a while and you think you have found all there is to find all there is for your taste. You feel a bit uneasy as you see the numbers ranking up on songs, wondering how many of those are yours. To get music that somehow evaded your DW, you need to search with a little more effort.
This is when you need to go even more independent. With websites like SoundCloud and BandCamp, artists can share their music for people to listen to without needing a manager or deal. They can request that listeners pay to download, or even just donate so they can continue to play music without needing funding from labels. This is for the more intimate connoisseur of music that listens multiple hours a day, every single day.
These are just some varying ways to find music. It’s much easier now to listen to music since there is no commitment to buying a CD or having to leave the house. The trickiest one can be to find your sonic way around BandCamp and SoundCloud to actually find the bands you like since there are no fancy algorithms or suggestions. This is where City World Radio Network comes in. Because bands can submit music, we have input that most stations don’t, especially like Spotify or Pandora. Here, the musicians find us and we find the musicians. This takes out all the guessing work of finding the hidden gems that haven’t yet been discovered.
No, there is no fancy algorithm. Only musicians and other listeners that might have the outlier of music that you just narrowly missed. Do you remember the first time you heard a band you never knew existed but now can’t live without? We hope to help you feel that a lot more frequently now.