One of the reasons I never found the whole P2P MP3 file-sharing thing as interesting as many of the people around me is that music in general has just never been a really big thing for me. I can be moved by a great piece of music, be it classical or popular or folk, I do occasionally go to concerts (mostly Lucy Kaplansky), but I generally haven’t felt a need to hear ten new songs a day like so many other people seem to.

Lately, though, I’ve been taking more of an interest. Partly it’s because I’ve found some names for how music I’ll like tends to get categorized, so I can find it without having to trawl through tons of stuff I’ll hate. Shoegaze, trip-hop, slowcore, emo – terms I’d never heard before. I also found a couple of good sites to hear or buy good music:

  • CD Baby sells CDs by relatively new and obscure artists. I’ve bought five CDs from them, and four were not recognized by CDDB. Every artist’s page lets you listen to two-minute clips of from two to ten songs, which is usually enough to get a feel for the music. Particularly noteworthy are the humorous order-confirmation email and the new arrivals page, which lets you see and listen to whatever’s new that day in the genres you like.
  • Epitonic is more of an MP3-based band-promotion site. It’s particularly notable for its “radio” feature, which lets you select a bunch of genres and then streams 20 random songs from those genres to you.

Both sites have pretty good “if you like this…” functionality, which I have used successfully to find other artists I like. Now I often start my day with the new arrivals at CD Baby, then a dose or two of Epitonic radio.