The Complexities of TRUE Music Discovery / by Eric Lum


Who runs the world? The internet.

Sorry 'Yonce.

The music industry is no exception to the internet’s growing control, and it has influenced the business in more ways than one.  

Services like SoundCloud, YouTube, Spotify, etc. have given Artists a theoretical avenue to distribute their music directly with fans. Artists now have unprecedented control over how they build their own careers.

A case in point is ‘T R A P S O U L’ star Bryson Tiller. Bryson started off setting up a ‘bedroom studio’ where he began recording his 2015 hit song ‘Don’t.’ When Bryson posted ‘Don’t’ in November 2014, the song blew up from a flurry of follows and reposts from SoundCloud fans all over the world.

The conversation that began on SoundCloud continued to propel Bryson’s greater success by directly connecting and distributing his music to fans.

Bryson Tiller’s path is a ‘Silento Story’ happening to more and more independent Artists, but this ideal music discovery path has its fair share of issues keeping it from becoming the new norm.

If you can follow the equation, an Artist’s success is foreshadowed by getting reposted and seen through the cocktail of online channel (remember when Facebook was cool?, then Twitter, then Instagram, now Snapchat, etc.). This funneling of eyeballs has created incentives for payola amongst blogs, checkbook journalism, paid playlist placements on platforms like Spotify, and overall a flood of social media accounts saying, ‘LISTEN TO THIS.’ Josh Messer from PressPlay puts it,

“Discovering music on the internet has finally reached a saturation point where if someone hasn’t told you to listen to it – whether it’s a subscription streaming service, a DJ, a blogger, a publicist, or a friend – you are utterly unlikely to ever know it exists.”

It’s become impossible to tell the difference between a genuine love for music and a paid ‘native ad’. But, what if we could create a music community that valued and incentivized the quality of sharing instead of the quantity of shares?

Recently, one of the most trusted and used music discovery tools, HypeM, removed several blogs from the platform due to payola allegations. Payola and genuine Music Discovery don’t mix, and creates an insurmountable chaos for the rest of us just trying to share some dope new tunes. When ‘Cash Rules Everything Around Me… That life is hectic’

We can either settle for contrived music industry 3.0  OR finally admit that ways for discovering new music have gone rotten and we need to leverage the internet to build a better network for genuine music sharing.

You know that person in your group of friends that you constantly ask, ‘Hey what are you listening to right now?’ That simple recommendation has a huge impact on an Artist’s career. Now imagine a place where everyone’s ‘music friends’ could get together, share music, and get the credit for being the first to find our next favorite artists? We’d finally be able to go back to sharing music in a meaningful way.