Apparently, the average UK adult has around 40 friends. Your total may vary one way or the other, but this is around the total for most people. It’s not actually that difficult to choose your friends; they’re people who share your interests, people who are there for you when you’re down, and people who you’ve met through mutual circumstances and maintained relationships with after those circumstances end. Choosing friends isn’t hard.
Choosing a favourite band, on the other hand…now that’s difficult. How can you narrow down hundreds upon hundreds of excellent artists and pick just one to fly the flag for? The honest truth is that you can’t. Thankfully, it’s perfectly alright to have multiple favourite bands. We all do it, and it’s healthy to listen to a wide variety of music. Here are 10 ways you can find your next musical obsession.
Use a streaming service’s discovery feature
Most streaming services – Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, and the like – offer great playlist features and discovery functions. Using those streaming services could well show you your next favourite band. Most of the services use the music you already listen to as a jumping-off point; if you like punk, you’ll get music relating to punk, and if you like jazz you’re more likely to get jazz or blues recommendations. This option is great if you’re not looking to move too far outside your comfort zone.
Check your horoscope
We know this one sounds like it’s coming out of left field, but your horoscope can actually be an excellent way to find your new favourite band. After all, your horoscope gives you advice for the day. Why not use this advice to decide what musical mood you’re in? If you’re being told to take risks, then maybe it’s time to find something in a genre you’re completely unfamiliar with. If your daily horoscope is telling you to play it safe, find comfort in a genre you know well.
Go to live gigs
We’ll say it loudly and proudly: live music matters a great deal. There’s something irreplaceable about the energy and community atmosphere of a great live gig. Whether it’s a massive sold-out show at a stadium or a tiny bar performance in the back room, live music has an honesty and a ramshackle earnestness that recorded music and computerised music can just never replace. Make sure you’re supporting your local music scene by finding live gigs where you can.
Dig into your parents’ collection
Your parents have an extremely important role in shaping your music taste when you’re younger. Whether you discovered all your favourite bands by shamelessly pillaging your parents’ vinyl collection or not, you have a lot to learn from your parents, especially if they’re as cool as ours are. Our mothers are into the Manic Street Preachers and obscure Britpop bands we’d never have discovered if we didn’t talk to them. It’s time to open a dialogue with your parents about music. You never know what you might learn!
Talk to your friends
This works both ways. You can ask your friends what they’re listening to right now and learn about a new favourite band that way. Once you’re done, you can recommend a friend to a band or even an entire genre of music they’re not familiar with. Musical exchanges between peers are the backbone of popular culture; they’re the way cool older kids shape our personality, and they’re how we become cool older kids as we grow up. Swap musical tales with your friends to broaden your horizons.
Try your YouTube mix
This method isn’t foolproof, but it could work wonders for you. When you watch a video on YouTube, you’ll notice you’re being shown a “mix” based on that video on the right-hand side of the page (on desktop). If you click that link, you’ll be taken to a playlist with lots of videos tangentially or directly related to the video you’re watching. Your YouTube mix could just throw up a bunch of goofy memes, but it could also contain the greatest song you’ve ever heard.
Listen to the radio
On average, around 27 million people in the UK will tune in to radio every week. If you’re one of those people, you could be using that platform to discover music. Some radio stations are definitely better for discovering new music than others, so make sure you’re picking the right platform. A good radio station is cross-genre and doesn’t limit itself by arbitrary restrictions like “cool factor” or time period. By listening to the radio, you’re opening yourself up to all kinds of interesting new music.
Don’t be limited
If you’re not the sort of person who normally listens to multiple genres, it’s definitely worth getting into the habit of doing so. Gaining a broad and varied musical education isn’t really possible if you’re one of those “I only like rock and metal” types. The fact is that every single musical genre has something worthwhile to offer – yes, even (especially) the classically stereotyped rap and country. Move outside your comfort zone and you’ll thank yourself for it.
Go check out some buskers
If you live in a city centre, you’ve probably seen buskers out plying their trade of an afternoon. Usually, buskers will be solo acoustic guitar-playing singer-songwriters, but they’ll sometimes espouse more interesting instrument combinations too. Some of us here have found artists in the most unexpected places and we now can’t imagine our lives without them. Go take a walk in your local city centre and pay attention to who’s busking, because you never know. After all, it’s how Ed Sheeran got started.
Learn an instrument yourself
By learning a musical instrument, you’re effectively pulling back the curtain on the tricks of the trade your favourite bands are using to craft their songs. You’ll gain an entirely new appreciation for those musicians and you might even discover that you like some bands you’d previously written off. If you learn an instrument, you could also join a band, and you’ll play with plenty of other bands you might grow to love. Joining the musical community is a great way to find new music.