76 Comments

Thanks for this post! I have noticed a LOT of what you have included here. Fortunately for me I started a Top Ten party with friends back in the early 80s when we were in our early 20s. There's a group of ten of us that still participate every year. The rule is: each year's Top Tens MUST be new songs! As a result, each person has been forced to explore new music every year. Some of our tastes have changed a lot while others are still fairly grounded in what they were interested in years ago. I think anyone who has ever loved music should do something like this! It keeps us alive and far from stagnant!

I'm currently writing a memoir based on the Top Ten lists I've created for every year even before we started doing these. Feel free to check it out if you haven't! https://open.substack.com/pub/danpal/p/a-top-ten-memoir-1975-im-seeing-you?r=lru5s&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

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This method of finding out new music is excellent. We have something similar with some friends where we make a top 20 album list every year.

I believe that some years ago the “in” thing to talk about in tech was “gamification”. In learning, in music discovery in… almost everything. I see these lists as a game.

Not sure what exactly happened but we’ve moved more towards algorithms. I guess it’s easier and more scalable. But yeah find people to be engaged with something and it will stick :-)

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Great points! We used to "game" it by trying to predict each other and giving prizes. Keep me in mind near the end of the year. I'll likely do a version of the songs/albums of the year with other Substackers!

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Super interesting stuff, although interestingly none of it applies to me. I’m 32, and I’m still constantly discovering new music. I have always been hungry for more new sounds my whole life. I was actually more conservative as a kid, because kids tend to only like what’s hip, mainstream, or at least commercially accessible in some way. Now I like more extreme kinds of music.

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Experimental kinds of music * and extreme too I guess

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Yeah I mainly liked what you might call traditional heavy metal/hard rock for most of my youth and then in my late 20's - 30's I was suddenly like "Death Metal! Moar! Yaaargh!"

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I didn’t start listening to extreme metal till I hit 40.

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Holy shit me too lol, I never liked death metal until my thirties 😆😆 that’s hilarious

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I read this and looked at the graphs and can't help but wonder how much the graphs were cleaned up for "flyers" like myself? 65 and always finding new music. Sure I have preferred genres and a few sub genres I won't listen to but by and large my play list continues to grow.

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I’ve found new music to enjoy by requesting my ap to offer songs from other countries and languages; currently exploring French music, after being blessed by a college radio station for its program of Brazilian music.

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I just turned 65 and yes just started Medicare. I’m finding new music on Spotify every Friday with their Radar Releases. I would have never listened to the new Beyoncé if it wasn’t on RR. I’ve been turned on to other artists like Dixon Dallas, Harry Stiles, Stephen Sanchez, Dua Lipa, Crisp and Dave Lee. Please keep the new music coming.

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I was just talking the other day about how amazing their recommendations are.

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Something slightly screwy about the article;

"Context is critical to cultural discovery. ...

1. The degree of importance attributed to music declines with age...

2. Young people listen to music significantly more than middle-aged adults.

3. Young people listen to music in a wide variety of contexts and settings, whereas adults listen to music primarily in private contexts.

The issue of music discovery does not originate from infinite choice; instead, this problem likely stems from decreased listenership (point 2) and a waning commitment to exploration."

Eh? What happened to the critical importance of context?

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Imagine stop finding new music, bleak

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People forget that that song that they LOVE was new to them at one point. If they had said “Nah I’ll stick with the same old-same old”? they never would have heard it.

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Enshitification. Music that we listen to is controlled by the “Big Few”. See Chokepoint Capitalism for explanation. “I❤️Radio” killed radio and other media and took control of what is left. Radio and tv should be locally owned, not have music and dj shows piped in from New York and LA. Locally owned is how you break new music to the world.

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I also feel like the sheer accumulation of music over the years becomes overwhelming. I've listened to so much music, and enjoyed so much of it. By the time I hit my 30s, the idea of adding MORE started to seem overwhelming. The older I get, the more I'd rather enjoy a smaller number of things more deeply, rather than getting a buzz of the novelty of something new.

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1. If your Dad likes the Washington Nationals he does like new things. If he was truly set in his ways he'd be an Orioles man.

2. I always find this kind of thing fascinating because I utterly hated the popular music of my teenage years (the 90's). I still like the music I listened to as a teen (which was mostly not contemporary) but rarely listen to it now. Just because it's kinda played out for me. It's interesting, to me, that this doesn't seem happen to more people.

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I thought the same thing, re the Nationals … though perhaps his Dad was an Expos fan. I started listening to The National and rooting for the Nationals around the same time, when I was in my mid-30s. Had never really given that much thought until now.

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Yeah they keep saying “outside the mainstream” but I think half the time they meant music that isn’t contemporary. I dont think mainstream was the right word. Especially because the kinds of people who only listen to mainstream music tend to be more close-minded and less exploratory about music anyway. Even young people.

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I'm in my 50s, and don't listen to much music at all, but I least want to listen to the songs of my youth. I heard them too much when they were new. I'm Gen-X, and if I had to pick a "best" era for music I'd probably say the 1940s or '50s.

My overall experience has been that when I was young I was into music that was new, and as I hit my late 20s I stopped caring about music. From age 35 to 40 a lot of sad things happened in my life, and music was a solace, so I became deeply involved in it, and discovered lots of then-new songs. Once life stopped being sad, I again stopped caring much about music.

I don't know if my experience is the norm, but I wonder if to at least some degree, when we are confused, sad, or otherwise unsure in our lives, music can console us, and once we grow up, get married, and have kids, and life is happier and more secure, we have less of a need for it.

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At 50, I still enjoy discovering new music. However, I enjoy discovering new things about old favorites just as much.

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Being a child of the 60s, the thing that strikes me is that music speaks to the current audience. No one who missed the 60s is likely to "get" the Jefferson Aiplane's "Lather". And being an over 70 white male, there's no reason/need for me to "get" Taylor Swift. I respect her for speaking to her audience, but that ain't me.

Some music is more catchy than others. Blondie, the Bangles, Travelling Willburys, Cowboy Junkies, Pretenders are all after my time, but have some great songs. Some music is more original than others, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Velvelt Underground. Some music is forgotten by near everyone, Richard and Mimi Farina, Dave van Ronk, but shouldn't be.

So what's the music from 2023/2024 that shouldn't be forgotten? I'm not sure that Spotify's algorithms could tell me...

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This is rubbish. What constitutes “New” music? If I discover an album that was released 20 years ago - but I’ve never heard before - is that considered “new”? It’s new to me. How about a brand new album from a “back in the day” artist? Is that “new” or “old”? How about if I ignore a brand new album, by a recent artist who is just regurgitating stuff from back in the day that I am long since sick of? (Greta Van Vleet I’m looking at you). I am 64 years old. I have been an avid listener since the mid 60’s. I still seek out new music - whether it’s “new-new” or “old-new”. Part of the problem I find with new music is that I’m jaded - “yeah, I’ve heard this before” -which kind of shoots the premise of not liking new music in the ass.

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I will be 67 in a few days. I am still discovering new music and listening to music of my younger days. My saving grace is my iPod. I have 18000+ songs on the device and I keep adding to the library. I have one large playlist made up of all 18000+ songs played randomly with no repeats until all 18000+ songs are complete. With my listening habits It takes about 1.5 years to finish the playlist. I like my iPod much better than Spotify. The Spotify algorithm played too many repeats too often.

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I really liked this post! recently I followed the advice of some music reviewer I heard in a podcast who said that if you wanted to get up to date on what the kids were listening to these days, check out the Billboard 100. I did and was shocked to realize how little of what I would call "rock" was on there. back in the 80s and 90s, almost everything would have been screaming guitars, which I really miss. Now I'm trying to find newer bands that sound like the 90s.

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Yeah, that was terrible advice! Maybe you'll find something new to love here: https://anearful.substack.com/p/best-of-2023-rock-folk-etc

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oh wow, thanks!

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I heard about the 30s cut-off point early on and swore I wouldn't succumb to it. Something did end up happening after all, but it's different from the stats, and mostly motivated by industry aversion. It's hard to enjoy the new output when you're pre-occupied with the sausage making.

One of my tricks has been to keep an eye on upcoming local gigs and checking out those artists. Finding a new cool artist and getting to see them live is a great combination.

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I found a small local venue and volunteered there. I was gobsmacked by the quality of the artists who were booked there, that I’d never heard of. A huge plus is being able to interact with the artists and get to know them as people.

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SO much talent out there! It's easy to get jaded by what we're being forcefed. I feel incredibly lucky to live in a city with tons of smaller venues showcasing actual indies

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