Favorited ex.fm Songs

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How I Find My Music

I've been asked quite a few times how I find the artists that I listen to. There really isn't a great answer to that always because there are so many different ways to do it in this day and age. However, after stumbling upon a couple new ways recently, and realizing I've got a blog that would be a great platform for sharing outlets that people may not be aware of, I thought I should dedicate a post to this topic. I'll just list a bunch of my sources of new music in no particular order below.


Ex.fm is a site that I remember hearing about a while back, but I never checked it out until yesterday. I'm pretty excited about this one though as it has already become the newest feature of this blog. If you look down in the bottom right hand corner, there is a little music player that says exfm. If you click on it, you'll be able to hear tracks that I've recently favorited on the site as well as some that I've posted on this blog recently. I'd love to hear from people that try it out what they think of it. The actual site has various ways to discover new music. You can see what other people are favoriting or listening to (like me here), you can check out the site's artist of the week or featured mixtape, you can see which songs are currently popular, or you can just search/browse. I'm already pretty hooked to the site and excited to look into it more.


Last.fm is a long time favorite of mine. Whereas I'm brand new to ex.fm, I've been using last.fm for almost 7 years now with no plans of stopping anytime soon. The basic idea of the site is that it will catalog (or "scrobble" in their terminology) what you listen to on iTunes (or at this point almost anything else), and keep a record for you. This can be used to create a customized playlist from your "library" that you amass. You can also listen to mixes from the libraries of other people on the site (again, I'm here), listen to stations similar to artists of your choosing, or just have fun browsing various profiles and artists. It's sometimes hard to perfectly encapsulate the appeal of these sites in writing, but I consider last.fm to be almost indispensable to anyone that listens to much music on their computers or iPods.


Spotify has really filled a void for me that was left when Lala was bought up by Apple (I've basically boycotted the iTunes music store since that happened). With Spotify, you download an application that then gives you access to tens of thousands of songs at your fingertips. They don't have everything, but usually it seems pretty darn close. You can choose to listen to anything you want for free with periodic commercials, or you can pay $5 a month and do away with these pesky commercials. This article alerted me to the fact that you can only do the free streaming for 6 months before a cap is put on your number of hours, but really in terms of just listening to whatever you want, this is the best of the bunch (in my opinion). For someone who likes to check out new artists but doesn't always want to pay for an album without hearing it first, it is perfect. You can also make playlists and share songs with friends. Here is a playlist of songs I've blogged about for people using Spotify.

Hype Machine

I go through phases of which sites I use, and Hype Machine is one that I actually haven't used in a while, but it used to be a favorite of mine. The site aggregates a whole bunch of blogs and compiles the songs that you can then stream (and sometimes download depending on the post). I follow several individual blogs, and most of them I found through this site as ones that kept popping up with songs I enjoyed, so I was more willing to check out other artists they wrote about. You can also search for artists or songs. You're not going to want to (or realistically be able to) listen to everything they post, but with a little discretion, you can find some really good things.

Individual Blogs

In alphabetical order, here are various blogs I've stumbled upon at one point or another that often lead me to great new artists or remind me of great old artists. I don't know any of these people, but I've enjoyed reading all of them:

All Things Go, Everybody Taste, Seattle radio station KEXP, Milwaukee based Muzzle of Bees, Rollo & Grady, Tympanogram.

These are a few of the main ones along with bigger sites like Pitchfork and Stereogum. These particular sites may not be for you, but there are plenty of really great music blogs out there if you look for them.


Daytrotter is such a cool site that I know I've plugged several other times on this blog. For years, they brought artists into their studios and had them record sessions that they then released for free. Oftentimes the songs were just tracks from their albums, but occasionally you would get a cool cover or song from an upcoming album as well. Unfortunately, they are no longer able to offer this great service for free, but they've actually upped how many artists they have (to 3 per week day I think) and it is only $2 per month. I've held out for a little bit because I'm always hesitant about spending money on something, but that's about one day of my coffee budget, so I plan on signing up just as soon as my free 7-day trial runs out. I highly recommend getting your own trial and signing up if you enjoy it. In just the last week, they've had sessions by Laura Marling, Smith Westerns, Collections of Colonies of Bees, and other artists that may just be great too.


Turntable.fm is another site that I haven't used in a while, but it is a pretty cool idea. You choose a room based on a genre or some other criteria and then up to 5 people take turns playing tracks for everybody else in the room. I actually learned about a cool alt country type band from Fargo called Little Winter while chatting with people in an indie folk room a few months back. I'll probably head back and spend some more time on the site sometime because it really is a neat idea and a fun way to either casually listen to music or to play music for others.


Pandora is likely the most well known of those listed here. However, part of that reason is because they do a really good job. Twice in a week I learned listening to Pandora that musicians I thought I knew well (Colin Meloy of the Decemberists and Elliott Smith) had been in other bands before their ones I knew. Several of these other sites allow more exploration on your own, which I enjoy, but Pandora does a good job if you just want to put some music on and do other things.


I almost forgot about 8tracks, which should be a pretty good indication of just how many great sites there are out there. If you've read the blog before, you may notice the name. I've used 8tracks a few times before to post mixtapes on the site (for my quarterly round-ups and my Halloween mix). The idea of the site is that you can upload your own music and use that to make mixtapes for yourself or others to enjoy. You can search for mixes by artist or description, which is a great jumping off point for seeing what other people may view as similar. It can be a pretty fun diversion now and then.


There are plenty of other avenues of discovery too. Getting recommendations from friends is still one of the best ways. SoundCloud lets you stream and occasionally download songs from various artists, record labels, and fans. I've posted tracks from that site on here several times. I know some people enjoy Grooveshark, but I've never really used it much. Various bands and record labels share thoughts, news, recommendations, and music on Twitter if you're on there.

Once you've found the artists and you want to buy their music, eMusic is a monthly subscription site that I've used for a couple years now. Albums are often cheaper to download than on other sites, and if you are on Twitter, make sure to follow @emusic because they are known to give away credit at various times on there. Just last month I got $9 in credit for telling them my album of the year or something. Most of the rest of my music I get from Amazon. They put 100's or sometimes 1000's of albums at a time on sale for $5 or less and are an amazing place to stock up on music on the cheap.

I'm sure I've left off sources that I use, but really the whole point is there are so many great resources for finding great music if you're looking. If anyone has others that they'd like to share, I'd love to hear them!

And since I like to try to include a track with every blog post, here's one that seemed thematically appropriate. "Can You Discover" by Discovery (a side project collaboration between Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot members).

Discovery - Can You Discover by PopTarts


  1. Hmm, I've never heard of Ex.fm. I'll have to check it out.

    I use Last.fm, Pandora, and The Hype Machine mostly. I also like Soundcloud, although I haven't really used it much to search for music.

    I like eMusic, although sometimes I wish it wasn't a monthly subscription. Thanks for the tip about Twitter! I'd love to get random credits.

    1. I actually mostly just use Soundcloud when I'm looking for songs to be able to post on the blog. I haven't used it a ton for actual exploration either.

      And eMusic doesn't do it super often, but to get anything free once every few months or so is pretty nice. I remember they did one over the summer too where they asked for people's favorite summer album and then credited them with the cost of that album.