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slaw a great point and for me personally the advent of streaming has really kicked this into high gear. I can go on crazy tangents listening to something, checking out whats available from other musicians on that recording and so on and so on. Also reading a review and seeing the music choices being able to dial up something that sounds interesting. And the best part, it never ends! There is just so much out there.
I find as I grow older that I am now willing to experience new for me composers that I would never have thought of before . When I was young I only listened to a very small spectrum of music from the so called Great Composers and even that was quite limited. What really broadened my horisons was when I started taking in subsrciption Orchestral concerts and you maybe had one work on it that you wanted to hear but another two things you never had heard before. Now maybe on that one night you would hear those two strange "to you" works and you would quite like one or even the two of them. That then made me look out for new works from that new composer and then as there was no internet or you tube to pre listen to something you had to buy a vinyl disc of the work and as I was just an apprentice then it meant I had no money sometimes for the rest of the week. So sometimes it was a wonderful new discovery or a very expensive and hunger inducing mistake. Now it is a great thing to spend a couple of hours on You Tube searching out works from other composers that I may have heard on radio and that then makes me buy either a CD or a Hi Rez download and move on from there. Just when you have thought that there was no promising new music for you up pops some new piano recital or symphony and away you go again. I have been doing this for over fifty years and I hope to be doing it a lot longer if I am allowed. Enjoy your muic whatever the genre.
Slaw - I might be misunderstanding your post but, for me, the gear has had little do with music discovery or a willingness to discover. Whether it was a transistor radio or a crappy little boom box, I’ve been hooked on listening to music from a very early age. Having a decent system makes the experience a lot more pleasurable and definitely reveals more of what’s going on in a given composition...but it ain’t critical. I’d be doing it with a pair of earbuds and a laptop if that were all I had.
I miss WXPN out of the U. of Penn. in Phila. Great source of adult contemporary and indie stuff. Having moved away from there, the Spotify Browse/Discover function has been a great source of new music for me. Also, I’ll yet again mention Richard Allen and the "A Closer Listen" website (a home for instrumental and experimental music). Can’t speak highly enough about this site.
Finally, I probably listen to a broader range of music now compared to 50 years ago but I’m also finding I’ve become increasingly fussy. Not bragging, not claiming superior taste or sensibilities...just seems to be harder and harder to find things that I connect with and draw me in. Oh well...just got to keep after it. There's certainly a wealth of sources for finding something good...the various threads about music here on A’gon are a real blessing in that regard.
Great topic/subject. For years it was good FM radio stations (meaning College ones, generally), as well as looking for connections on album liner notes. Brian Wilson lead me to Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle, who lead me to Randy Newman's 1st, etc.
The great Americana print magazine No Depression exposed me to artists I had been unaware of (and continues to online), as did/does Mojo Magazine out of England. I also keep my ears open while browsing at record stores---employees at them are some of the most diehard music fans alive, and are very current. If you find one who shares your taste, he or she can let you know about the best new releases.
Live music ( is better bumper stickers should be issued)
make your own recordings
make friends with people who listen to stuff you don’t ( yet)
mix sound for a band
wander the halls at prep school, borrow strange LP’s
take a music appreciation and then theory class
read books about music ( David Byrnes is great)
stream to dip your toe in
keep a list of stuff others like
see streaming to taste, 3+ million albums on Tidal
ask people for top 20 lists
see the thread here what’s in your CD player tonite
haunt the thrift shops, anything looks good At $.99
read the music lists for best of 20xx and of course peruse the mainline audio rags for music reviews
go to the pre concert lectures.
What a wonderful question! I don't think there are right or wrong answers to it. Mentioned by others was the benefit of having a subscription to a concert series; for me that would be season tickets to the symphony, and I do think that is very important. However, that does limit you in terms of genre. For that reason, I think even higher on the list would be to keep company with others who love music and to listen together, sharing your favorites with each other. Whenever I have the opportunity to listen deliberately with others, I inevitably discover something I had never heard before which I then seek out and add to my own collection.
Love the discovery part of this, great topic! A good source for me is to cruise sites like Pitchfork monthly, looking for new releases. Also, the year end top album lists from those sites are great sources for new music, by new and established artists.
YouTube is great as well, basically just look up a genre, year end list, or something like that, and down the rabbit hole you will go. I've found more than a few artists through some low-fi amateur YouTube music reviews.