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With unlimited music choices, how do you discover new music?

Thanks to streaming and YouTube, you can listen to nearly any recorded music, at any time and anywhere -- but is that a good thing?


Back in the days before the interwebs turned the music business upside down, our musical vistas were limited to our own collection or whatever was on the radio. That was a long time ago.

Even today, in a world with endless choices finding new music that makes you feel something, think, or move isn't always easy, and if it's not doing any of those things, it's not going to engage you. Then music is just wallpaper, it's just there, taking up space and utterly disposable. Then again, at some future date, you might come around. I was unmoved by electronica for years, now it's one of my favorite genres.

Steve Guttenberg/CNET

In 2016 it's easy to have tens of millions of tunes at your fingertips, but does endless choice leave you threatened by the choices? Back in the day when radio "broke" new artists and bands, the best program directors had a knack for selecting what the broadest possible audience would like and they picked winners. Surfing the Web, how do you find what you like?

Sure, it's so easy to only listen to old favorites, stuff you liked in high school or college. Back then our friends turned us onto music, that was more of a group thing, but what about now, how do you find new music?

If you have friends who like to explore new stuff that's great, when they say "Have you heard this?" there's a good chance you might like it. Senior Associate Editor Ty Pendlebury is always bringing in music for me -- his latest find, Battles, struck a chord. A couple of weeks ago Associate Editor Justin Yu played some Au Pairs and I became an instant fan. Over at the Pitchfork website I just recently stumbled on Bibio and found their spikey pastiche appealing, they were making sounds I haven't heard before.

I'm an omnivorous listener and collector of music. When I like it enough, I buy it new or used. Having a physical copy is important to me, but sure, you can collect music virtually on playlists, and why not?

What connects, emotionally, that's what matters most to me. Of course, that changes over the decades, some music I loved decades ago bores me now, but some of it means more than ever. That's an amazing thing about music, repeated listening sometimes deepens the connection. That's more likely to happen with complex music, like classical or jazz, but rock can, most definitely put a spell on you.

My favorite NYC record store, Other Music, is another place I regularly discover new sounds. I recently heard African Head Charge's "My life in a hole in the ground" at Other Music and bought the LP. The band's massive drums and bass mix stayed in heavy rotation on my turntable for weeks. Three out of four times I visit the store I buy something I never heard before.

My question to Audiophiliac readers is this: Do you want to expand your musical horizons, or have you found what you're looking for? Do you stick with what you know or dig deeper?

How does your format of choice -- streaming, download, CD, LP or cassette -- determine how and where you discover new music? Share your thoughts in the comments below.