Introduction

My FM transmitter recently died.  It is a bluetooth enabled device that plugs into the cigarette lighter port of my car and connects wireless to my phone.  Any music I play with my phone is streamed to my transmitter, which in turn, is transmitted as a FM signal to my car stereo.  My car does not have a modern stereo with line-in and its own bluetooth that new cars would have today.

I loathe the radio!

Because of this transmitter, I went months without listening to the radio.  Instead of the same songs ringing in my ears all day long and the ridiculous DJ banter, I finally had control over the music I listened to.  My favorite songs playing all the time as I drive.  I no longer needed to take a hand off the steering wheel to switch radio stations.  If I didn’t like a song, I simply pressed the next button on the transmitter or I would reorganize my tracks when I got home.

It also doubled as a hands-free set so I can talk and drive at the same time safely.

I have come to the conclusion that nobody goes this far to listen to their own music.  The closest I’ve seen is people who play the same CD in their stereo repeatedly.  Don’t get me wrong; people can listen to whatever they want.  I must ask: Does anyone really choose what they listen to?  Am I the only one that cringes whenever I hear Gangnam Style or anything by Nicki Minaj?

To encourage people to explore the world of music a bit more, here’s my two cents on how you can find more and better music:

How to explore new music

  1. Research the music you like.
    1. What is their record label?  Maybe there is more music from that label you’d enjoy.
    2. Who composed the songs?  Maybe you like the way producers work with artists to create awesome tracks.
    3. Are these songs remakes/remixes/throwbacks?  What do the original songs sound like?
  2. Do judge an album by its cover.
    1. A large amount of time and money is invested in any cover and its sole purpose is to be judged.
    2. Do you notice a pattern between the style of the cover and the type of music?
  3. Explore the genre.
    1. Do your favorite songs belong to a specific genre of music? (rock, rap, techno, trance, etc.)  Many music stores are organized by genre first, artist name second.  Take a look around.
    2. Some music websites have “related artists” and “you may also enjoy” sections.
  4. Stop acting like a sheep.
    1. TV and mainstream radio stations are controlled by faceless corporations and choose what music should be played and pack them with ads.  They are motivated by profit; quality and variety is not in their best interest.  Even “request” shows are controlled by them.
    2. Tread YouTube carefully.  There is better music there.  Ignore comments and view counts.  The only thing that matters is what you believe.
  5. DRM-free!  I mean, “Once I buy it, it’s mine.  I can do whatever the fuck I want with it.” kind of free.
    1. Apple is trying to reduce their DRM usage.  However, they are not a pure DRM-free store. Avoid them and the following DRM stores:
      1. Napster
      2. Puretracks
      3. Sony Connect
    2. I recommend 7-Digital.  They are by far, the best online store.  Not a single track uses DRM.
    3. If buying digital is not an option, buy physical media.
      1. Tread carefully, some CDs can contain DRM as well and can be programmed to not play in a PC.
      2. Vinyl is a good option too.  There are drawbacks.
        1. Vinyl is delicate and much larger than CDs.  Not for people with limited space.
        2. Record players can vary in quality.  There are cheap options but the physical factors of vinyl records complicates things.
        3. Digitizing them is a lengthy and tedious process.
        4. Not all labels press vinyl records.  Sometimes, they are made in limited quantities, making them quite an investment.
  6. If your favorite artists are playing live near your area, why not see them?
    1. Touring and playing live are where artists profit the most.
      1. Album sales account for a single-digit percentage (or less) of an artist’s income.  The rest goes to the label, distributors, administration, etc.
      2. Drink responsibility.
  7. Shoutcast.com – There are a ton of internet radio stations here. Commercial-free and community-driven. Just about any genre imaginable.

Conclusion

I know there are people out there who listen to music outside the mainstream. I remember staying up to watch The Wedge on MuchMusic back in the day. That’s how I discovered artists such as The Postal Service, Ladytron and Cadence Weapon. I hope that people aren’t forced to believe that the only music worth listening to is on the radio. There is choice out there, more variety. It’s not about getting a pop song stuck in my head, listening to it on the way to work and again on the way back home. There are better ways to find music worth listening to and its worth it once you take the chance and really see what’s out there.

I just have to remember to check out Tiger Direct or Canada Computers for a new FM transmitter…