I was reading this article on Consequence of Sound called The Elephant In The Music Room, and I want to use it to start a discussion on how we find music. The article is a bit long-winded, but I think I can mostly summarize it in a few points:
1. There’s a lot of music available right now, and much of it is good and mostly unheard.
2. Currently existing automated music discovery services are geared towards ‘passive’ listeners, not those of us who seek out music constantly.
3. We need more interactive utilities for discovering music, because we're not finding all of it right now.
I read ‘thought-provoking’ posts and articles like this all the time, and it’s also a sentiment obviously shared by lots of people in the music industry: Spotify and all its competitors address this ‘problem’ in different ways: the problem of people not knowing what they want. The thing that I’ve found, though, speaking to friends, musicians, and even ‘casual’ listeners, is that lots of people are pretty satisfied with how they find and listen to music right now, because the industry has never been so diverse and geared towards different kinds of listeners. Some people I used to work with, for instance, loved their local terrestrial radio station, and others thought that their 'work playlist' on repeat was perfect for the workday, but pretty much everyone had a 'strategy' or way of listening to the music they liked while at work.
My experience with Spotify seems to suggest that people are still constantly talking about music, recommending things, and making/sharing playlists, so that if you have a desire to find something new, there’s a bunch of different ways to find it - including the Discover feature, but also through reading reviews, forums, browsing playlists.net, etc. In short, there's a lot of different ways to find music, and it's never been easier! (For me at least).
The point lots of people make is that we need more technological advances to defeat the 'paralysis of choice' problem, and that these old ways of discovering music–radio (or something like radio), personal recommendations, and curatorial selections (collages, music journalism, blogs, etc.)–aren't up to the job when there's so much more music available than before, but I think they are. I've seen them say that their research suggests consumers default to their old musical tastes because they don’t know what to listen to. Personally, I just don’t see this. As some of my friends get older, they’ve stopped seeking out new music as often, but I think that’s not a technological problem or related to increased musical availability, but simply just a different stage in life.
If anything, I sometimes feel like I have so much in my listen queue to check out that I don’t know where to start, but that’s not a discovery problem, that’s a ‘I don’t have enough time in the day to listen to all of this’ problem. And that's a great problem to have for me! There's no way for me to listen to all of the 'good' music in the world, but I'm satisfied knowing I can find something I'll like at any time, easily.
In summary, as I see it:
1. Passionate music listeners have better resources than ever to find music, whether it’s old, from another part of the world, or incredibly obscure – Spotify being a big part of the solution here.
2. ’Passive’ listeners have a bunch of services that work fairly well with a bit of training/tweaking. These services might not be unearthing obscure music, but these people don’t care about that anyway, so it’s not a problem.
Does anyone have thoughts - either on the Consequence of Sound article, or regarding how you discover new music? Does anyone feel that they have a hard time discovering new music?