The best way to discover new music

Internet radio, Spotify, and Pandora are good, but "curated" music podcasts are an even better way to discover new music.

Finding new music has never been easier, and music podcasts are my favorite discovery path. I prefer shows with hosts that put music in context. That's why I like discussion and music sets, and occasional interviews with musicians and live performances. The shows listed below (for the most part) can be downloaded and played back when you're ready to hear them.

  • WNYC's John Schaefer has two daily programs, Soundcheck, which features a wide mix of music genres, interviews, and live-on-the-radio performances; and New Sounds, which, if anything, covers an even wider range of music styles. Each episode of New Sounds has a theme; one time it might be accordion music, the next night it's movie soundtracks.
  • The Eternal Now podcast Steve Guttenberg
  • The Sound Opinions podcast from WBEZ in Chicago also uses themes, like the recent recap of the SXSW 2012 festival or the Alabama Shakes. Sound Opinions can be talk oriented, but hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot really know their music.
  • From Los Angeles, KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic lives up to its name and features a lot of in-studio concerts. The New Multitudes performances were stunning, and the sound quality is decent. Recent live in the studio programs with the Shins and Esperanza Spalding were very cool.
  • John Pizzarelli's Radio Deluxe podcast dishes up a wide range of jazz, sound quality is fuzzy, but acceptable.
  • National Public Radio's All Songs Considered may be the single best podcast for those who want the latest in new music. Host Bob Boilen is fearless in his explorations, so if you're only going to try one podcast, All Songs Considered is the best place to start. Jack White fans should definitely watch Boilen's interview with the former White Stripe.
  • The Eternal Now with Andy Ortmann on WFMU offers a "Comprehensive exploration of contemporary experimental, psychedelic, noise, and other obscure music." That covers it, and WFMU is the hippest, most eclectic radio station I know.
  • The Roadhouse blues podcast runs the gamut from Delta to Chicago, from pre-war to jump, acoustic, electric, harps, horns, and the show archive runs back to 2005!
  • The Is This Thing On? independent music podcast from Eastleigh, Hampshire in the U.K. is a lot looser than the others. So it feels like host Nick Tann just turns on the mic and lets the show unfurl. He's a good talker and musician, he plays his own stuff and music listeners send in. He takes a lot of chances, and that's what makes Is This Thing On? great.

If you have a favorite podcast, share it in the Comments section.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

 

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