Discovering music is incredibly simple these days. With the internet at your fingertips and the glorious inventions of Spotify, SoundCloud, Instagram and more, there’s a never-ending supply of new bands to check out.
However, it wasn’t always this easy. Before technology became as revolutionary as it is today, the scene relied on simpler things and less advanced social media. Check out 15 ways we discovered music before Spotify existed below.
Between nailing the perfectly angled selfie and adding glitter graphics to our profiles, we definitely stumbled across some tunes. From Jeffree Star to the Medic Droid, there was no shortage of Myspace–era jams. Honestly, it was a roller coaster of emotions when they lost all of their music and someone sort of saved it shortly after.
— The Paramore Band (@TheParamoreBand) April 12, 2013
While Myspace was a social networking site that had a music-based edge, PureVolume’s (RIP) sole purpose was for discovering new artists. It gave traction to many of the 2000s most notable acts. Forever The Sickest Kids accidentally spent $350 for front-page song placement for a song they didn’t have (quickly leading to “Hey Brittany”), and Gym Class Heroes allegedly scored a Fueled By Ramen label meeting based on their uploads.
3. Buzznet/Friends Or Enemies
Much like Myspace, Buzznet was a place for users to connect through journal, photo and video sharing. The site later produced friendsorenemies.com, which was specifically targeted to music lovers. Bands such as Fall Out Boy, the Academy Is…, Cobra Starship and more used the site to interact with fans on tour and off, in turn giving them a place to discover new music through ones they already knew. The site was so influential that All Time Low once created a makeshift “Sup Buzznet?” tee as an homage to their video greetings and later partnered with Glamour Kills to make a real one for fans.
4. Hot Topic
— The Corporate Emo (@xtngnz) August 29, 2014
From walking into the store and just hearing new music to taking a peek at the T-shirt wall, there was no shortage of ways to discover bands within Hot Topic.
Was just telling the high school kid we have at work who’s here for school credits about how I used to work at the FYE down the street and he had no idea what I was talking about but then I realized the store closed when he was 8 years old so nvm
— Shawn Cobb (@shawn_thomas) June 3, 2019
Much like Hot Topic, it was pretty easy to track down a new artist based on what FYE was playing or had on their shelves.
6. Walking into any record store
And it didn’t just have to be FYE. Going to your local record store and flipping through stacks of CDs would yield some of the best spontaneous results.
7. Warped Tour compilations
— Vans Warped Tour (@VansWarpedTour) June 29, 2017
There was no better way to get pumped up for Warped Tour than to pick up their annual compilations. Some of the best bands were hiding within those tracklists.
8. The line at Warped Tour
I didnt know it at the time, but my favorite memory was getting a copy of @ICENINEKILLS The Burning EP while standing in line to get in back in 2008 I think. Ten years later and they’re still my favorite band, and I would have never known them without warped tour. pic.twitter.com/HBAXle6cCE
— joe (@JoeTheCoolDude) August 5, 2018
While you may have stumbled across your next favorite band inside Warped Tour, we can’t forget about the local acts (and ones who traveled with the festival) hustling outside. Often armed with an iPod, headphones and a stack of burned CDs, these bands skipped traditional marketing efforts and came straight for their core.
9. The opener at a show
This method still holds true today. While many head to a show because they already know the headliner, there’s nothing more satisfying than discovering a really cool band who are on as support. Do as Hayley Williams does and show respect for the opening acts. Plus, you never know where they may end up next.
10. Label samplers
Just found this old Victory Records sampler pic.twitter.com/FreqOkQYkm
— 🌹 tourist_666 🌹 (@tourist_666) July 17, 2016
As if you weren’t already on cloud nine after seeing one of your favorite bands tear up the stage, a lot of times labels were there to make it better. Whether at Warped Tour or other shows, labels handed out these discs packed with their artists’ music. Victory Records’ was so iconic that Wendy’s resident scene kid used it as a diss when someone asked for it on last year’s National Roast Day.
This was the most dangerous source of the bunch for two reasons. First, you could be trying to get the Used and end up with Chingy. Or second, you attempt to download blink-182’s entire discography to date and end up with a computer-melting virus, and you’re grounded for a year.
12. Mixed CDs and tapes
— PilotPenUSA (@PilotPenUSA) April 23, 2015
Before Spotify playlists, one of the best ways to share music with friends was on a CD or tape. It was also the best way to send a message (or 12) to your crush with some Sharpie art to show off how you truly feel.
13. Fuse and MTV
If you didn’t discover My Chemical Romance on Fuse in your friend’s basement, does it even really count? From Steven’s Untitled Rock Show to A Different Spin With Mark Hoppus to the F-List countdown, there were so many ways to find new music. While Fuse had our emo hearts, MTV’s TRL also kept us pretty happy with some of our favorites performing and making the countdown through the years.
Unlike some of the other sources on this last, YouTube hasn’t gone anywhere. However, the video sharing site predates Spotify by about three years (six if we’re counting until Spotify’s 2011 U.S. launch), making it the streaming giant’s predecessor.
15. Radio stations
Before we were all fighting over the aux cord, we relied on local stations to tell us what was cool.
Which ways did you discover music before Spotify? Let us know in the comments below!