19 Nov 2016

How to listen to all the music on the Internet

From RNZ Music, 2:45 pm on 19 November 2016
Andrew Jervis

Andrew Jervis, Bandcamp's Chief Curator Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Andrew Jervis, Chief Curator of Bandcamp, the online direct-to-fan music portal gives us his tips on how to navigate the fathomless world of digital music.

Bandcamp is home to over 400,000 artists selling music digitally or physically by way of vinyl, cassette or CD. Artists can also sell merchandise and tickets direct to their fans. 

Here are Andrew's top 3 tips on how you might work your way through all the music to find the gold for your playlists

1.Follow Follow Follow

One of the keys to navigating the ever increasing smorgasbord of music on Bandcamp is to see what fellow fans are into. Andrew currently follows a few hundred other people,  “these may be people whose taste I like, or we’ve bought the same music.”

“I’m following so many people who can tell me about new, good music. It’s impossible to stay on top of... there are fans who have insane amounts of records in their collections and they’re following way more people than I am and it’s my job to do this.”

Like minds might mean like music. So find that community of shared taste. Andrew reckons the easiest place to start, apart from other fans whose purchases may be similar to yours, is on the homepage:

“Halfway down the home page there’s a little thing that says ‘discover’. If you use the tabs there you can really dive in very deeply into the site...you can even follow what you’ve discovered there”

2. Get Specific

Luckily almost all of the music released on Bandcamp is tagged. Meaning you can search for music by location, format and genre - a function somewhat unique to Bandcamp that give you the ability to “drill down” into some specific sounds.

If you’re feeling adventurous try searching for sludgestep, beat-tape, power-violence, or even witchrock.

A small sample of Bandcamp's genre tags

A small sample of Bandcamp's genre tags Photo: Yadana Saw

Andrew adds that his works particularly well if you have the Bandcamp app, where you can save these searches

“For instance if you like indie music from Brooklyn on cassette, you can actually follow that so that we can automatically tell you about any time there is indie music from Brooklyn on cassette.”

Andrew has found it particularly handy for when he’s visiting new cities and scenes, it’s kinda cool ...for me here in Auckland I can dive in and see what’s happening on the Auckland music scene.”  So much so that his last Bandcamp Weekly show was an exclusively New Zealand music affair

3. Keep Feeding

Once you’ve set your perimeters and found a crowd to follow, your music feed will become “essential”, in Andrew’s words, “There’s something great about finding a bunch of people whose taste you like and artists and labels who you really want to know “what’s next?” and having that be delivered to you.”

He likens it to an Instagram feed where you can get a taste of what Bandcamp, fellow fans, your favourite artists are sharing and recommending, which in turn may put you onto new favourite.

Bandcamp's Homepage

Bandcamp's Homepage Photo: Yadana Saw