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Tips to get outside of your music comfort zone

Tips to get outside of your music comfort zone

Tips to get outside of your music comfort zone
February 29
19:33 2020

Finding new music can be a daunting process, especially if you’re like me, who listens to the same four artists year-round. After coming to college and being teased by friends for always listening to Fleetwood Mac and Florence + the Machine, I found tips to get out of my musical comfort zone and embrace new artists. 

Since using these five tips, my musical library has greatly expanded over the last year so feel free to pick and choose whatever method feels right to you. 

Monthly Playlists

I can’t take full credit for this tip since it was my friend who introduced me to making monthly Spotify playlists. Essentially, it forces you to curate a playlist of whatever songs or artists you’re listening to within a specific month. Whether it’s new, rediscovered or classic songs, monthly playlists force you to find music that fits your mood during the month. For example, my August 2019 playlist is a mix of hip-hop, indie and pop music featuring Brockhampton’s “I BEEN BORN AGAIN,” Maggie Rogers’ “Overnight” as well as Labrinth and Zendaya’s “All For Us” from the hit HBO series “Euphoria.” 

Since starting monthly playlists in 2019, my music library has grown significantly and helped me stop listening to the same four artists on repeat. Feel free to add your favorites or entire albums, the options are endless when curating these monthly playlists. 

Discover Weekly

Thanks to Spotify and Apple Music, every week there’s a new round of music picked specifically for you based on your weekly listening. These “Discover Weekly” playlists have become my bread and butter in terms of expanding my music taste. Once I find whichever songs I enjoy from the Discover Weekly playlist, I add them to my monthly playlist and often times look deeper into the artist’s discography as a way to get out of my musical comfort zone. 

In addition to Discover Weekly playlists, artist radios, recommended songs and artists are other great ways to find new artists within a subgenre. I would’ve never found the band MUNA or The Aces if not for the recommendations Spotify gives listeners. 

World Music

It’s the year of international music, y’all. English-language music isn’t the only global chart-toppers, with Korean pop (K-pop) and Latin music sneaking their way into the Billboard charts and the playlists of listeners everywhere. 

Latin, K-pop, Arab, Afro, Regional Mexican, Reggae and Indian music have become official genres featured on Spotify’s Browse page and the fun doesn’t stop there. French, Russian, Jamaican and Nigerian artists have been blowing up on the international music scene recently, with artists such as Videoclub, IC3PEAK, Koffee and Burna Boy gaining worldwide attention for their intoxicating beats and instrumentals. 

Some might be apprehensive about listening to music in a language they don’t understand, but why limit yourself to one language? Enjoying music not in your primary language can open but your appreciation for world cultures and their unique music. 

The Classics

If you’re like me, it’s fairly difficult to study or write to music that has words. My easily distracted mind latches onto lyrics, so classical music and film scores have become my go-to when I study or write nowadays. Background music without lyrics increases worker productivity and concentration, while music with lyrics had negative effects on an individual’s concentration, according to a 2012 study from the Fu Jen Catholic University.

For newcomers to the classical or instrumental music world, film, television and video game scores are simple and immersive options to help during midterm season. Some personal favorites from classical music include Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s ballets, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Symphony No. 4” and Aaron Copeland’s “Billy the Kid” ballet to name a few. With film, television and video game scores, use your favorites of each medium to kick start your dive into film scores. Personally, the “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” scores work as well as recent Academy Award and Grammy Award winners. 

Friendly Follow 

Listening to and discovering new music doesn’t have to be a solo activity. Following friends on Spotify (or other streaming services) lets you see what your friends are listening to and explore their own playlists. Recently, I started listening to Mitski and The Japanese House simply because my friend listens to them often. Now that I’ve started listening to these artists, I’ve added them to my own playlists. 

Following your friends is also a great way to bond over new-found music and find concerts to attend without having to hunt someone down to buy a concert ticket.

The search for new music doesn’t have to be a deep dive into YouTube playlists, so choose whatever song or artists feel right and don’t be afraid to try new genres or playlists in order to get the perfect listening experience. 

Featured Illustration: Olivia Varnell

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Sarah Berg

Sarah Berg

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