It’s almost been a year in my journey, so I guess I should make a status update.
Background: One day in February or March, I decided to explore Bandcamp. I wasn’t very well-versed on the actual independent music “scene”, so I thought I should look and maybe find some good video game OSTs like Bastion. I found a bunch of really cool albums like Impostor Nostalgia, Unearthed, Tower of Heaven, and stuff by the MarchFourth Marching Band, and decided to start an all-out journey of musical discovery; a pilgrimage of epic digital proportions.
This is what I did: I went through pages upon pages of the tag lists for things like Chiptunes, Experimental, Progressive, 2a03, World, and Alternative (among many others), and bookmarked anything that looked remotely interesting. I ended up with about 50 bookmarks in this “To-Listen” folder by the end of this, and when I started listening to them all, I would go to their recommendations page, if the artist or band had one, and bookmark each of those. I assumed that eventually all recommendations would loop back to people recommending only things I’d already heard of, and I would stop finding new albums to listen to. Obviously when I started this I didn’t think about exactly how much music there is out there in the world.
Now, somewhere around 9 or 10 months later, I am sitting here with a “To-Listen” bookmarks folder well over 100 long, and a “Listen Again” folder with even more than that (interestingly enough, my To Buy folder is only about 15 long, because I haven’t had time to actually listen to these albums again because I’m busy in the To-Listen folder). I’ve discarded more bad music than I can even think of, but I’ve also discovered so, so much. If I hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have ever found amazing groups and artists like Torley, Ubiktune, Chiptunes = Win, Inverse Phase, Virt, Gamechops, Disko Warp Music, Cloudkicker, NickelPUNK, and so much more. I’ve come to enjoy almost every single genre of music, even ones that I previously hated. ESPECIALLY ones that I previously hated. I never thought I would see the day when I found good metal, folk, or dubstep until I started upon this quest. (I still haven’t found any good hip-hop though :|) I was even introduced to the “weird genres”, like future beats, and noisecore.
My goal is to actually finish this To-Listen folder by the time I graduate high school on May 31. The problem for a long time was that, for every one album I listened to, I added 2 or 3 to the folder, and at one point it literally was over 225 bookmarks long. That isn’t so much a problem, anymore, except when I find compliation albums, like ChipWin, 9-Bit Records, or Chip For Cancer, I try to find the bancamp pages for each artist whose songs I like in the compilations. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing to listen to so much music; it’s just incredibly time consuming!
I think anyone who is interested in finding new music should do this. Bandcamp is absolutely filled to the brim with good music of every conceivable style, and you’re bound to find something you like. This is all you have to do:
1) Explore Bandcamp’s tags, even the more obscure ones. Try to find music from your local area, too.
2) If you like an artist’s music, bookmark other albums they’ve made, and look at their recommendations page if they have one.
3)Listen to your bookmarked albums in order. Skipping around to the ones that look the most interesting is easy, but you aren’t giving the other ones that you are unsure about a fair chance.
This may or may not turn you into a hipster in the end. I’m not sure. I don’t THINK I’m a hipster… but when 4 of my top 5 favorite albums of all time are all independent, this may be a problem 😛