As technology continues to shrink the world and music becomes more and more accessible to the masses, what's the best way to find the new music that you love? It's a task that can seem overwhelming at times, and presents unique challenges for those in the global music industry. To help answer the question, we asked some industry pros what their strategies were for discovering the latest gems, and we present their responses here.
Erich Ludwig, Senior Director of Operations at MediaUnbound (www.mediaunbound.com), a company that provides recommendations services to other media companies finds the question particularly interesting since he is in the business of music discovery. He also works as a consultant for artists who are trying to get discovered, and speaks to the question from these two different angles. Here are his responses:
1. What are your top 5 sources for finding new music on the internet?
On a personal level, my answer is as follows:
a) email from friends/colleagues
b) IM's from friends/colleagues
d) music blogs (primarily African music oriented)
e) Google news feeds (using appropriate key-words)
The best source of recommendations has traditionally come from friends. Especially for those of us in the "snobby about my music" category. Even though I work for a recommendations company, I don't use personally (or even in my consulting business) any of our companies' clients on a regular basis to discover music. That is likely due to change...I'll explain more once we go public...
Anyway, personally I find most discovery engines not able to capture my diverse interests, although I certainly play around with them for competitive analysis and for testing our own products. There are also some problems for recommendation services for international music, whihc is primarily what I listen to. These problems have to do with tagging and naming, as well as with actual usage data. These 2 things are large components of a recommendation system, and one can see the problem here easily on last.fm just by entering any artist whose name has accesnts or is easily misspelled (try Ramata Diakite for an example. Her last.fm page is http://www.last.fm/music/Ramata+Diakite/). I'm Ramata's manager, and have linnked up all the other permutations of her name on her page:
There is no easy way to get around this, and it severely affects the discovery of international music. International labels & managers MUST be sticklers for tagging and labeling tracks and albums to take advantage of the recommendations systems being built into many new web sites.
2. Do you have any other sources for finding new music? If so, what are they?
My network is really very good at helping me find new music. Usually that involves someone in my network contacting me to ask about this project they are working on, and asking me various questions about that project - how to market, promote, distribute, book, license, sign to label, etc...Through this process I sometimes find music that I personally enjoy, and other times, find stuff that is great, but that I may not love. And of course WOMEX, SXSW and a couple other festivals are great places to load up on new music.
3. How do you manage the overflow of music that comes across your inbox, desk, and ears? Please give specific tools, techniques, and philosophies.