Finding new music in 2013
Gone are the days when teenagers’ bedroom shelves were stacked with CDs, their flimsy inlays the only source of additional information; when NME being delivered to your door once a fortnight was the height of cultural awareness and when Top of the Pops was your widest spectrum of musical discovery. As a teenager in 2013, I find new bands, gigs, offers and promos shoved down my throat though every facet of social media, as an almost inescapable fact of life. Any new band I find can be researched with ease online, and I can listen to every song they’ve ever recorded without even leaving the house. Finding something new to listen to has never been easier.
A few months back, I went with a couple of friends to see our current favourite band, Peace, but left more impressed by their support act, whose name none of us could remember and, no matter how hard we hummed them back, we couldn’t work out the titles of any of their live tracks. This was soon remedied by a quick, hungover Google search of “support act for Peace” the following morning, which revealed their name to be Superfood. Tapping this into Google, we find their Twitter and Facebook pages, which, in turn, link us up to their Soundcloud, where we download their debut single onto our phones, ready to listen to on the way to school. All this performed within 10 minutes, and all completely normal to us. The old school act of gig-going will certainly never go out of fashion as a means of musical discovery, but can now be reinforced by the availability of free and easily accessible music platforms, so you can enjoy that “band-you-can’t-quite-remember” the day after.
When we don’t have the money to go out to gigs (which is often), we are perpetually sending each other quick YouTube links back and forth over Facebook Messenger, captioned “give this a listen” or “I’m sure you’d like this”, and since we all trust each other’s judgement, we are our own most reliable influences. New music inevitably still travels by word of mouth, even if it’s just by tweeting a YouTube link to a mate in your lunch break – this is 2013, after all. On top of this, we are all blessed with older siblings, who fast-track us to low-key, obscure bands – thanks to my best friend’s older sister, I’ve discovered a newfound love for American folk singer, Rodriguez. Similarly, when my two older brothers moved away to university, I was the grateful recipient of their entire CD collection.
In this respect, I am unusual, as I know no other 16-year olds who own a CD player. Not one. And I’m sure some couldn’t even tell you what ‘CD’ stands for. It seems young people are reluctant to occupy the chronological/technological middle ground of physical music. They either go for a ‘trendy’ record collection and run the risk of being branded a hipster, or resign themselves to an entire music library in iTunes – easily accessible and compact. To me, a CD is still the best of both worlds. It still presents all the joys of manually putting it on, lending it to a friend (half my Blur collection is in the hands of my best friend), but can also be burnt onto our computer, put on an iPod and listened to whilst you go for a run, at no extra cost. Personally, I tend not to buy music from the Apple store, as I can’t justify spending 79p for one song, when you can track down your desired album in a discount music store, like Fopp, for £3, working out at around 25p per song.
It goes without saying that these CDs are kept, usually for a very long time on a shelf somewhere, and shared around many friends. This sharing process continues online, as I generally plaster my new favourite songs all over my Facebook wall and Twitter feed, with some self-congratulatory “look at this amazing new band I just found!” comment. Annoying as it may be for others, this is the way music circulates around my friends online, and will continue to be the quickest, most effective way of spreading music and generating interest for up-and-coming bands.
It’s hard to predict what will come next – will the launch of Google’s new music streaming site, predicted to rival Spotify, really change anything? Will the popularity of small, social-orientated sharing websites such as Last.fm and This Is My Jam continue to grow? Perhaps there will be an extension of YouTube’s “suggested videos” feature based on a person’s entire online presence and information (in the style of Black Mirror)? And, the obvious question, will CDs and records eventually become obsolete?