Music hunting is something we all do. Though you might not actively pursue it (but you probably do since you read this blog), you had to find your favorite music somewhere. Whether it came from your friends or from the depths of the internet, your music taste is something you’ve crafted from years of exposure to different sounds and styles.
In the digital age, hunting for music is barely a hunt at all. Whether you turn on the radio, open up your favorite Spotify playlist or Shazam what’s playing on the speakers of your local Starbucks, discovering new music is something everyone can do with ease. With wider exposure to new artists than ever before, anyone has the ability to find songs they love but may not have otherwise found. In recent years, accessibility to new artists and genres is at an all-time high; most of the time, we are inundated with so many new names it’s hard to keep them straight.
It’s difficult for us millennials to imagine music in an era that predates our own. Just think: instead of spending a little bit of time browsing indie playlists on Spotify, finding the same type of music in the 1970s would involve hitting up a record store, spending time searching through shelves and digging through bins of physical albums. Alternately, if you had a hip friend who would expend time and effort to burn you a mixtape, you might have found some new songs that way, too. Other than that, live music, radio, magazines and television were pretty much the only way to hear new songs. By comparison, we have it so easy when it comes to finding our own music taste. Or do we?
Before we had the internet, our options were limited. Sure, you could order CDs, shop at record stores and listen to tapes. But scanning through dozens of songs at a rapid pace was not possible, there was no streaming or illegal downloading to be done, and albums generally had to be purchased as a unit. We often take the accessibility of music for granted. There is something to be said for simplicity, and the sheer volume of choices we have can be overwhelming.
Fast forward to 2015. We haven’t yet gotten to flying cars, but we’ve managed to create a vast digital network with access to millions of songs instantaneously. Music blogs, apps, streaming platforms, social networks, file sharing, and XM radio have revolutionized the ways we find and listen to music. It’s challenging to sift through so many outlets and so many new voices. Record labels and radio plays have significantly less of an effect on what tops the charts. New indie artists like Tove Lo, Kiesza and Robin Schulz explode seemingly overnight. This is all due in part to the way we find our music. Before things hit the radio, they often take off on sites like Youtube and Hype Machine. It’s pretty crazy to think about the number of artists who’ve reached super stardom from being discovered on the internet (e.g. Justin Bieber, for better or for worse). The implications of our internet age on music are far-reaching: unlike before, consumers have much greater power in determining artists’ success.
As the way we experience music continues to evolve, I’m sure we’ll continue to see more power in the hands of the people. It’s important to realize just how powerful our tools for discovery truly are. Sites like Soundcloud, Pitchfork, Pandora, independent music blogs like us and countless others all contribute to the increasing diversity of popular music. So next time you hear a new song you dig, think about how incredible it is that we’re experiencing such a massive transformation in the way we find music. It’s pretty neat.