How To Discover New Music Without Spending A Fortune

Jazz Singer

Photo by, used with Creative Commons License

The music industry changed when Apple introduced iTunes and the iPod. Gone were the days of heading to the record store, listening to CD tracks and heading for the discount bin. Instead…well, let’s just say the way people thought about music changed. Forever.

Last time you bought an actual CD? You’ve got to think about that, don’t you?

So where do you turn if you’re tired of the stuff you have lying around, and you want to get some new sounds? Here’s a New Frugality primer on how to discover new music without spending a fortune.

  1. Pandora is the industry standard…
  2. It’s been around for a little while, it’s now a publicly traded company; but, yes, there are folks who haven’t used Pandora yet. The site works very simply: you pick a group you like, and Pandora plays songs from that group and others that have a similar sound.

    Now, if you’re like me and you want to support new music – you’ll find yourself discovering new bands, then actually going out and picking up their songs on the iTunes store. All thanks to the recommendation from Pandora.

  3. Spotify, the newcomer…
  4. Spotify launched in Europe, then arrived in the USA with a hookup from Facebook.

    There’s a free and a premium version – try out the free first, then consider upgrading if you find ads annoying or want more freedom. (Pandora also has a premium version.)

  5. YouTube? Really?
  6. Really – free music is plentiful on YouTube. You can listen to lots of acts to your heart’s content – and this is another way to discover songs and bands you may not have heard of, too.

    The key is to look not only at comments, but at recommended videos on the right-hand side of the page. Sometimes there’s a nugget or two that’s worth a listen.

  7. The bands themselves
  8. Musicians have had to get a heck of a lot better at marketing themselves. So they often set up web pages, give away songs – heck, sometimes they give away entire albums.

    Example: Telecom, a band from Melbourne. I discovered them in 2006 (through a friend with killer taste), bought their first EP. Then waited for the next one. And waited. And waited…

    Lo and behold, when they came out with the new one, they made it downloadable for free. Why? Exposure, plus the chance that you’ll like them, tell your friends, and go see them in concert. (Which I promise to do next time I’m in Australia.)

  9. but not
  10. It’s another free service – – and it keeps track of what you listen to and when. (Which the rest of them do, too.)

So, now you’ve got the means to start discovering bands – then, when you find something you like, you should certainly support the arts by making a purchase or seeing an act in concert.

How do YOU discover new music without spending a fortune?

Last is great for more obscure tracks and musical acts.

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About Dave Van de Walle

Co-Founder of New Frugality, Dave's day job is as lead consultant at Area 224, a Chicago-area strategic communications firm. He has been an entrepreneur since 2006, when he founded an education technology startup, and has been living somewhat frugally ever since.


Most of my music discovery? Actually YouTube...if a friend shares a link, and I trust their judgment, I'll listen (or, more accurately, watch).

Mandy Boyle
Mandy Boyle

Spotify has been awesome for discovering new music. I like browsing through my friends' shared playlists to see what they're listening to and usually, I find something new and interesting.