It’s been nearly 5 years since I last tuned to a commercial radio, and it’s been a hell of a ride since that point. Can’t really point out the motives behind that decision, I guess I just grew tired of it and wanted to explore something different. One thing I’m sure though: I never did it just to become the weird dude that listens only to his underground and nearly unknown stuff, as if that would give you some sort of aura that puts you apart from the rest of the world.
But the truth is that there is a great deal of satisfaction on crafting your own musical taste according to your own discoveries. From my own experience I learned that this is pretty much a solo journey, where those around you will probably never even notice something is happening other than the fact that you’re isolating yourself from the music everybody else listens to. And it is a very rewarding path to follow once you realize that you came across artists, bands and genres that open new worlds to you, yet you would not have known of it from most mainstream media outlets.
It is a bittersweet victory. Sweet because it is like the first time you logged on to the internet… that excitement and feeling of freedom and the endless possibilities when you discover something new. Then comes the somewhat bitter part: having almost no one to share it. Some might think of that as one of the advantages of it, but to be honest, to me the purpose of this was never to be different, or to build a wall that others might no be able to pass.
In the spirit of not give the wrong message, I’m not advocating for people to stop listening to what they like, I’m more in the line of letting people know that once you reach the point when you get bored with what mainstream music has to offer, or simply wanting to explore the darker and undoubtedly more diverse path of underground music, there are plenty of choices and routes to follow. I took that path 5 years ago, and have absolutely no regrets about it, in fact I consider myself very lucky to have devised it.
Unfortunately there is not a manual or a For Dummies book about this, it is pretty much like a trial and error process. If you are in the early stages of discovery, you might already know where you are heading to, but if you are just curious and want to give this a try, you should probably be better off with recommendation systems like Last.FM or Pandora for some time, and once you already know a couple new artists you should do what I always do: get always the full album for each song that you liked, even when you know absolutely nothing more about it. This pays off around 50% of the time, at least for me, sometimes you will find nothing more there, and sometimes you end up discovering truly amazing pieces of music that will lead you further into new directions.
If you are actually considering trying this, please do it for the right reasons, and not just to give out a statement against the mainstream music industry (in the end, you thought they would actually pay attention to your rants?), or to look cool for listening something different that nobody else understands. We don’t need that kind of people on our boat 😉
At the end of the day what matters is that you found something you feel comfortable with and you actually enjoy it.