There was a time when Myspace was the premiere platform for musicians to promote their music. It was kind of like your weird uncle's attic, messy and sometimes NSFW, but a place that could foster some interesting and unexpected discoveries.
In the post-Myspace era, sites have popped up to fill the music-sharing void, with SoundCloud being one of the front-runners for underground music sharing and discovery.
In terms of design, SoundCloud's interface is pretty ideal for music promotion and discovery. Its layout is clean, its social feed makes it easy to find new content and its transparent statistics make it clear what is gaining popularity. But with SoundCloud's new copyright laws it seems that the smaller artists and DJs, who were the constituents that made the site popular in the first place, will have a harder time finding success on the platform. Many indie labels and artists have already complained that the platform has taken down their music without much explanation. Popular mp3 blog ThisSongIsSick had its account deleted from SoundCloud and Kaskade, a popular DJ, also had his music taken down.
Before, the platform's lax copyright policy made it possible for DJs to remix content and allowed users to discover new artists and genres. But with SoundCloud's new licensing deal with Warner Music and the site's stricter copyright laws, it seems that it will be increasingly difficult for DJs and artists to produce music featuring uncleared source material without the platform taking it down.
It's unclear, though, if SoundCloud is going to enforce these rules equally among its users. Will big names like Skrillex or Diplo be regulated for using copyrighted material as harshly as smaller musicians and labels? The tension between SoundCloud's grass-roots beginnings and its new corporate copyright policies has even prompted some users to create FrownCloud, a satirical music streaming service that prevents users from uploading any content in fear of it being deleted.
This new direction for SoundCloud comes at a crucial time as more and more musicians are forgoing signing with major labels to have more artistic autonomy. As Complex's David Drake points out, Macklemore made waves when he opted for a distribution-only deal. Azealia Banks was dropped from her label and, according to Twitter, she seemed very pleased with the outcome. In an interview with Hot 97, Banks revealed that after she got dropped from her label she simply paid TuneCore, an online music-distribution service, $75 a month to put her music through official channels like iTunes and Spotify.
So as more and more musicians are avoiding major record deals and as SoundCloud becomes less friendly toward user-generated content and more of a machinery for major record labels, where will music lovers go to discover music that isn't in the Top 40? And where will independent musicians go to get exposure? The music industry will inevitably reinvent itself. Until then, here are 5 places to go to discover new and fresh music.
This website is exactly what it sounds like, a place to post your jam. You know that song that you've been listening to nonstop for 5 days? The one you silently mouth to yourself while doing the dishes? Now you can go on the virtual rooftops of this website and shout out "This is my Jam!" Once you post your favorite song of the moment, the website will recommend playlists based on that song. The social feed also lists the jams of people who you follow so you can see what's popular in your network. A good thing about this website is that it allows you to put in a link from SoundCloud, YouTube or lesser-known channels. So it's a good way to discover jams that aren't necessarily super well-known at the moment. This is an easy-to-use site for when you're on the hunt for a new song or two but don't want to devote a ton of time to finding a whole new album or artist.
Originally named Blalock's Indie Rock Playlist, the site mainly focuses on indie and folk music, but hip-hop and rap tracks do make an appearance every now and then. Each month the website curates a playlist of over 100 songs from both well-known and obscure artists. The great thing about BIRP is that it has fostered a strong community of listeners. The website lets users send in their own demos/albums for consideration and has a rating system for mixtapes so users can chat and discuss music with each other. Bonus points: The site featured Ellie Goulding and Mumford & Sons long before they were famous.
Hype Machine has been lauded by critics as the "future of all media" and the perfect mix of "Pandora and Pitchfork." The site pulls music from about 800 music blogs and organizes them into different genres. The site also has a "most popular" tab which lists the most listened to songs on the blog at that given time. One of the best things about Hype Machine is its vast selection of remixes. Among its diverse selection of remixes are some from professional DJs and some from amateurs, so you're guaranteed to stumble upon things you won't find on mainstream music sites and will probably be exposed to genres you don't usually consume.
Bandcamp is a great way to support up-and-coming artists because the site lets you buy music from independent musicians. The site is also perfect for endless hours of browsing as it features many ways to discover new music through the site's own playlists (staff picks, best-selling and artist-recommended) and through fans' curated playlists and wish lists.
Feeling aggressive? Going on nocturnal adventures? Asleep on your feet? Whatever your mood is, Stereomood probably has a playlist for you. Simply type in your mood and Stereomood will give you a playlist aggregated through music blogs around the world. It's perfect for when you're running around the house and don't want to put in an active effort into selecting your musical entertainment. Featuring everything from Icelandic jams to Afrobeats to modern instrumentals, we guarantee that the playlists will expose you to some tracks you've never heard before.