That's My Jam: The MySpace Hustle

Where do you get new music from?
I'm not talking about the latest release from a band you already like, or the solo project of that guy who used to be with so-and-so that you loved in highschool. I'm not talking about bands you're aware of and finally decided to cave in and download a few tracks from, or that one classic act that had that one song in the movie soundtrack that made you realize that as much as you always liked the Beatles, you've never really put time or effort into owning that many of their albums.
I'm talking about new music.
Bands you took a flyer on. Groups that you weren't sure you were going to like at all when you first came across them?

For a lot of people out there, the radio is still that source. The place for new songs to earworm their way into your lives to the point where you just sort of have to hit up iTunes to download them.
But for a lot of us who's tastes aren't quite so radio-friendly, the resources have always been a little sketchier.
Mix tapes are still probably my favorite way to discover new artists. In this modern WiFi file transfer age it's weird how less people seem to be sending them out -- but to me there's still no better way to discover music you might not have heard about otherwise.
Besides, who doesn't love getting a disc in the
mail made with your specific interests in mind?
I'm really fortunate to have dear friends who not only have varied musical tastes different than my own, but who are also willing to send me CD's filled with songs they know I might not like. Sure not every tune makes it into regular rotation -- but it's the kind of trip into unknown territory that's always exciting to take, especially when it's created by someone who's opinions you hold in high regard.
Still, when you're jonesing for a new flavor, or even just a new variation on your favorite style -- where do you go?
Back in the day (when they actually played music, that is..) MTV was a easy bet -- but for a long time there I was actually a big believer in reading the liner notes on albums recorded by bands I liked. It was sort of like an analog version of Pandora -- if Anthrax thanked The Exploited and their road crew for a great summer tour through Europe -- I made it a point to check them out as soon as I could.

Of course, when the web blew up there were all sorts of sites to keep up with. Back in the free for all Napster days I'd download stuff just because it was there. Half the stuff would get one listen and then get discarded, but for every net full of fish you'd download there would usually be one or two keepers.

These days I tend to rely a lot on Pandora. Largely because it's available for me to listen to at my desk while I work, but that (for the most part) their suggestion engine works really well once you get enough checks and minuses in there to get it on the right track. I still keep an eye on friends blogs for suggestions -- which makes for a nice influx of new artists to check out, but it's still a time consuming practice.
I mean, it's not like the bands are coming to me.
..Like they did back when I was on MySpace.
I know MySpace now is sort of a laughingstock -- but for a short while there it was really the most organized and popular of the social networking sites. I think Facebook (even with it's flaws and scammers) has become a much better version on the same idea -- but there was a period where MySpace somehow became the grand central station from where almost all the trains came in to pick up new passengers and head to destinations all over the map.

I know people bag on it now, especially as it got run over with kids and glitter graphics -- but I'm not ashamed to say that I made a lot of good friends off MySpace. Met some amazing, beautiful women who had similar reading tastes as I did. Sure that same sort of thing happens occasionally on Facebook -- but for MySpace was always (for better or worse) more of a open forum than Facebook will ever be. Facebook I think understands that while meeting new people with similar interests is cool, there's a point where all the strangers trying to take up your time becomes a hassle.
Especially the bands.
The best thing about MySpace for me was just how much many new bands and free music there was to check out.
At the same time, the worst thing about MySpace was just how many bands would hassle you to check out their music.
If you so much as added two or three bands you liked to your profile list, you'd get hammered with emails and friend requests from garage bands all across the country claiming they sounded kinda like them. For a while it was kinda cool, but then it just got to be overload. Especially because sooo many of the groups on there sucked out loud.

But as the site grew and grew, and major labels started using it as a marketing tool for their new releases and movie soundtrack tie-ins, the whole thing just got to be too much. In a lot of ways it's the same story for every facet of online social networking sites. As soon as the thing gets too big, it starts to become too much like work, and then keeping up with it isn't as much fun as it used to be.

I know there are a lot of people out there who simply don't bother with it at all, tiring of all the annoying users or simply choosing to interact with real people instead, but when you live somewhere (or feel as if the place you live) is limiting, and in many ways the kind of environment that promotes isolation or sticking with the friends you already have -- sites like this can actually be really great ways to break through that ice and branch out into new things.
Especially when it came to new music.
For example, one of my favorite bands I discovered through MySpace is the Australian metal act Tourettes (occasionally you'll see them billed as Tourettes Syndrome). They haven't had much exposure stateside for whatever reason -- but back in the day that didn't stop lead singer Michele Madden from going on what seemed like a one-woman crusade to get the bands name out there. Her emails and comment messages were frequently personally crafted, and she'd (at least from my experience) actually approach new prospective listeners with specific questions and comments on blog posts and pictures and such.

Sure in the end it was just another hustle by another wannabe rock star trying to get more hits on her page, but there was something really cool about the personal touch she added.
It didn't hurt either that I really dug their sound.
Madden's voice has a lot of range, which she uses to present a lot of different faces within their music. She's also never been shy about using effects to change things up -- which leads to a lot of songs where it's almost as if she's performing a duet with herself -- with one voice being her more feminine natural tones, while the other is dropped an octave or two by a computer until she starts to sound more like Peter Steele of Type O Negative.
It's the kind of experimentation you rarely find in this genre, even with male-fronted bands.
It might sound sorta sexist for me to say this -- but metal bands with female singers are rarely all that great. Although there are several notable exceptions (Otep, The Cycle Sluts From Hell, The Murderdolls, The Genitortures) -- in the end it seems like there's always something sorta missing from most chick metal bands.
Or to put it another way -- considering how crappy the rest of their stuff turned
out to be, I really kinda regret liking that first Kittie's album as much as I did.
For whatever reason, the girls with loud guitars thing always seems to work out better for me when it's in a punk or alternative context. Artists like The Runaways, L7, Joan Jett, Skunk Anasie, The Distillers, and the Slits could get away with sliding back and forth between sounding heavy and doing more girly sounding stuff without the kind of backlash that trying something like that would get you when you're a metal band.

For whatever reason, it rarely seems like metal bands led by women are allowed to have very much fun.

Why headbangers are so demanding of their women singers ("Scream more, be heavier, Wear less clothing!") instead of letting them be who they naturally are I don't know -- but all too often it seems like in this genre more than any other, women don't get half the chances they should (and even when they do the shelf-life the labels and fan sites allow them always seems to be unusually short, especially compared to some of the crap bands with guy singers out there that NEVER seem to go away).
Honestly, I'd trade 1,000 Hollywood Undead's if it meant I could get more jams like this one:
Surely I'm not the only one who's discovered something new this way. I mean, I know MySpace seems like aincent history to most of us anymore -- but there was actually a lot of great music to be found on there in a wide variety of genre's if you were willing to dig a little bit. And I know I wasn’t the only one of ya'll who was logged on there all the damn time.
So who are some of yours?

[Listening to:  Vendetta Nation - "Making Money" ]

Comments

whatigotsofar said…
I refuse to go to places like MySpace for music. With the proliferation of digital recording and music sharing, I have found that the difference between the good and the bad has lessened. Not because the bad has gotten better, but because the good has gotten worse.
I prefer traditional methods of finding music because I stupidly have faith in the old system. Bands with record deals are probably better than bands who don't. Because if a band has a record deal, they've probably done something right at some point. If a band doesn't have a deal, then there is no filter whatsoever. Sure, there might be some really great music out there, but c'mon, what are the odds?

I've found more music through online radio stations (mostly from this one outta Birmingham Michigan) than anything else in the last few years. But it's mostly been pointing me towards classic rock that escaped me because it was unable to get into Canada because Canadian content regulations forced Canadian broadcasters to broadcast Canadian content.

Other than that, I rely on word of mouth. It was WOM that brought me Muse, Jim O'rourke, Betty Davis, Tortoise.
Bef said…
another great read

I rarely listen to the radio...I might check out a few minutes of tom joyner or russ parr on my drive to work...but for the most part radio is not something I listen to...I can barely stand the stations here in my part of Ohio...

finding new music is almost like a hobby of mine...I scour the internet constantly in search of the next great R&B/soul or jazz artist....I do listen to other genres but my main genre is R&B/Soul...

anyway...I happened upon some blog last year that posts download links to allot of unknown artists...yea yea yea bootlegging is bad...whatever I'm a poor single mom!!!

I have a process as to how I choose which CD's to download...

I also love iTunes when it's not being bitchy...they have allot of unknown artists on there as well...

and satellite radio is really fuck-awesome...I have it with DirecTV...I listen to it daily...satellite radio got me hip to Raheem Devaughn some years ago...and he just put out the best R&B/Soul CD of 2010 thus far :-)
JerseySjov said…
since i have a youtube ripper i spend a good deal of time clicking around on related videos of songs i like, then remembering names and titles to go back to.
i have a mess of songs from ministry of sound that i would never have found otherwise, since that kind of dancey music isn't really popular on the radio here.
i'm also a big fan of free downloads from mashup djs like girl talk. i love the travis barker/dj am fix your face albums.

my new favorite find is janelle monae. i honestly can't remember where i first came across her but it's been a good time.
Dorian said…
I used to read some music blogs... when I had time to read music blogs. My favorite was one called indiepassion (now at http://wearethesleepyheads.tumblr.com/). That led me to myspace a few times. I also went to pitchfork and have XM radio and friends who make great CDs for me.

It seems that most people just use Pandora and Grooveshark. I've gotten lucky with Pandora a few times.

I also have been a member of eMusic for years (I despise iTunes) and download free albums from them or try out the recommendations based on the other music that I'm downloading. eMusic has only gotten better over the years with a much broader catalog.
Dorian said…
Oh yeah, and I bookmarked this post too intending to go check it out more sometime: http://mashable.com/2009/02/02/music-recommendation-services/
Heff said…
That Tourettes stuff cracked me up. What a melody !
objectsubject said…
I uh...date musicians. Yes, that ellipsis does contain hints of shame. I know it's super cliche, but when you're dating the guy who's singing in that one band or whathaveyou and you're getting into beaucoup shows for free, you find new stuff to love pretty frequently, albeit locally.

As for non-local new music, I cannot emphasize this enough: THE LIBRARY.

I shit you not, I have amazing library mojo. I walk in there, fondle a bunch of random shit, wait for the vibe to hit me and come out with gold. That's how I found Shugo Tokumaru, Shivaree, Efterklang, The Bees, Vetiver, Blood Brothers and some other amazing bands I'm too tired and headachy to recall.

Then I take whatever I've found home, listen to it intensively and if they're any good, burn (illegal! shh, don't rat me out) copies OR hit Amazon and buy as many of their albums as I possibly can.

Or, in the case of Efterklang, lie to the librarian about how I lost the cd while running for the bus, pay the lost cd fee and keep that shit. ;p
TheUndeniable said…
Usually I come across new music by word of mouth. It'll either be someone whose tastes I vibe with, or from some folks whose tastes vary and aren't run-of-the-mill.

I love the feeling I get when I come across an artist or group that isn't mainstream-successful, yet whose sound Is refreshingly different, creative and intricate.
whatigotsofar said…
I go to you.
Non Oblitus said…
I tend to find it accidentally. I pretty much gave up on music the last decade or so. Hate "alternative", grunge was just nasty (best thing to happen to rock and roll was the death of Kurt Gobang.)

Last band I found that I liked is a screamo band out of South Carolina "The Secret Lives of the Freemasons" and I found them accidentally on YouTube while looking up stuff on the Freemason conspiracies.

And for the record, I was looking for Freemason stuff because I am a Freemason and the conspiracy stuff is just funny as hell.
Werdna said…
I get my friends to tell me about music. And then sometimes I just happen into something good on the internet.