Music by Accident
Music by Accident
Music by Accident
A long time back in the day, there was a store called Blockbuster Music that let you listen to their cds before you bought them. The policy was that you pick up no more than 3, so every Friday after school I browsed through the aisles for three cd’s. One cd, featuring a blue woman holding a glowing orb read, in metallic blue lettering “Covenant” of Norway. Nexus Polaris. From the moment I heard it I fell in love with it. I hadn’t a clue that music could sound that awesome,
Had I only bought cds from what I heard on the radio, what people around me were listening to, or even a music magazine, I would never have found this band. They were what I like to call “music by accident”. Music by accident is the recordings you pick up not because of friends, the radio, or an album review. It often involves going to a bargain or blowout bin a record store and just buying albums. Anywhere you can buy lots of music at prices acceptable to you will work. Having a natural bargain instinct I have been doing this for some time. Here are the benefits of music by accident:
1) You are often introduced to genres you’ve never heard/are dimly aware of. If you like it, you have a unique, irreplaceable cd. I have one dark ambient cd which is great for night time driving during road trips. I have no other cds like this
2) You have the opportunity to introduce friends to new bands. Having grown up a metalhead in a school where no one cared for it, I take great pleasure in turning people on to new bands or just metal in general.
3) You will find some of your favorite cds from this method, should you do it regularly. Bargain bin cd’s are not inferior. Their cds just haven’t been as well marketed as their more expensive counterparts.
Here are some basic tips. Now that so much of music is online some of my methods are dated. However, they should be easily adaptable to what’s out there in the digital world.
1) Find a bargain bin with low enough prices for you to handle getting 5+ cds. It helps if this bargain bin is finite, especially if it’s small enough to do an entire browse on your own time table.
2) Use any and every cue you can to locate albums. Consider name, album art, and record label. This is easy for the genre I look for (metal) because a skull or a dark sounding name is a dead giveaway. But consider this. If the band is the name of a person, and the album art features a picture of one person, you’re probably looking at a singer/songwriter, or at least a solo project. Don’t feel afraid to take a gamble on any particular cd, because you’re going to be buying several cds and at least one will turn out ok.
3) Name recognition. It helps to know the names of lots of different bands. When I got into metal, I found bands via the magazine Metal Maniacs. However, I didn’t just go through the interviews and reviews. I also looked at advertisements with long lists of names. I can often spot a metal cd in a huge bargain bin based on the reading I did over 8 years ago.
4) Programs like Pandora at www.pandora.com will help you find single songs by artists based on the favorites you’ve entered into your account. Music magazines often have editor playlists, so if you like the music reviewed in the magazine you have a good chance of finding things that way. Editors of music magazines tend to know more about bands, and hence list more obscure titles from artists waiting to be discovered. Many of the more independent record labels will have low priced samplers for you to peruse, though anyone in the know can tell you a single song doesn’t always predict the record.
5) www.myspace.com I have never used myspace to find bands but it definitely has potential. Most serious bands have a myspace page nowadays, and to add onto that many user profiles have playlists, often of 12-15 songs that can be streamed. And when you find a band off someone’s playlist, it’s likely that you can go to the band’s site and hear 4+ other songs by that band.
6) Browse the Internet. Music finding sites come in all different colors and flavors. Listening to a streaming audio site or an actual radio streaming their broadcast is a good example. Buying 10 $0.99 songs off Amazon or some other site works too. I’m sure there are novel programs I’d be surprised to know exist.
There is no excuse for having a boring record collection. To paraphrase Winston Churchill: “Most listeners stumble across great albums, but then leave them in the bin, and walk away.”
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