It’s a position I never thought that I’d find myself it, but with The Playlist coming to an end after next week’s show, I’ve realized that I don’t know how to keep up with new music on my own anymore. It’s actually kind of interesting when I think about it.
For the last seven years, I’ve hosted a radio show dedicated entirely to new music, so you’d think that I’d know all about digging up new music. Unfortunately for me, that’s not true at all. Being at a college radio station gives such amazing access to new music that you really don’t even have to try at all, it’s just there for you. Seven years ago, I took over the position of Head Music Director at 90.3 The Core and it was awesome. Even though I had been a DJ there for two years already, I had no idea just how much music the station received on a weekly basis. We’re talking 60-100 new albums a week. That’s a lot. Even with ten other people working under me in the department, I still had to be reviewing at least 30-35 of those albums each week myself just for the department to be able to keep up. I had no choice, all this new music was shoved in my face. I would complain every once in a while about not having the time to listen to the music I wanted to anymore, but in hindsight, that was probably one of the best problems anyone could ever have.
After a while, I had gotten so used to this that I didn’t look for new music on my own anymore. I would find out about a few bands here and there from friends or the indie music message board that I spent way too much time on, but I never had to actively look for new music. When I stepped down from the position as Head Music Director after two years–I wasn’t a student anymore and didn’t think it’d be right to keep the position–I still had access to all of the music. Since then, I’ve shown up a few hours early to every show just hang out and check out new music. Again, no effort. And one of the best things about this was that I had access to the full albums for free.
That’s all over now.
In the couple years before all of that, most of the music I found out about was from friends, going to shows, and from running a small venue for a while. None of this really took any effort either, there was still a ton of music just being pushed in my direction.
The last time I had to actually put effort into finding out about new music was before people did this via the Internet. It was the late 90s when most people still didn’t go online regularly. I would actually have to go to the CD store and take a risk buying something I knew only by name. I would check out the bands listed in the thank you section of the liner notes for albums. I would check out bands that I saw on show flyers for shows I didn’t even go to. I would actually ask people what they were listening to and go through the CDs they had in their backpacks. This was real work! Even once Napster hit the scene, you still needed to have an idea of what you were trying to listen to.
Over the course of the last ten years, everything changed. People don’t need to do that kind of work anymore. The Internet took over and made it super easy to find out about tons of new music and download it for free to at least check it out (totally not suggesting that people shouldn’t make sure the artists get some money in their pockets). I missed out on a lot of that. I don’t even know what sites to read and where to download music anymore. I really don’t. I didn’t need it, so I didn’t pay attention to much of it. Now I need it and I don’t know where to go.
Even though I’m a pretty big tech geek that spends a lot of time keeping up with technology, I feel like some clueless old dude who was just told he needs to use online banking for everything now, but has never actually used a computer before. What the hell do I do?!?
What are the credible sites to read for finding new music? Where do people download stuff these days? Beyond subscribing to the RSS feeds for Punknews and Absolute Punk and looking at what people are listening to on Last.fm, I’ve got nothing. I don’t have time to read any new sites or message boards. I don’t know how the hell I’m going to do this when I actually have to work for it and it’s not just all right there for me.
I guess I knew this day would come at some point, but that doesn’t make this any easier.