Best Radio Shows To Discover New Bands

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Though radio may be stigmatized as a stagnant industry, most people either love it or hate it for valid reasons. We love radio DJs because we are too busy to do the legwork of soliciting and listening through countless demos, let alone make those final judgment calls on who the next big thing in music deserves to be. We hate it because of the politics leading to every major station peddling the same hundred bands’ songs over and over, across every station in every city in the world, hardly giving us any wedge room to hear something different and discover something fresh on a daily basis. 

There’s a reason why big radio - and that’s all genres included - latches on to those same hundred bands. Somewhere along the line, they proved to have something, that penultimate “it” quality, that the public loves. But exploiting that sound over and over again feels more than just degrading; it’s unfair to the unsigned artists and their as-yet-unintroduced fans who would love to connect to one another. Truth be told, there are hundreds of music blogs and online streaming services where you can go to find new music. But, there’s an integrity to the few stations and Djs out there who remain dedicated to discovering unsigned artists and new music that surpasses this. Check out a few of our options and staples below, and let us know what you think! Are you a radio or online streaming person? Where do you go to discover new music?  

triple j unearthed 

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Akin to KCRW in the U.S. or BBC Radio 1 in the UK, Australian radio station triple j is the hottest discovery spot for indie music lovers down under. In addition to being an international spot for song premieres in the alt-indiesphere, triple j dedicates a portion of its station to trip j unearthed, a program that purely features music by unsigned Australian artists. 

KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic 

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Hosted by DJ Jason Bentley, each session in this weekly series airs an ongoing interview interspersed with several live in-studio performances by artists. The bands range from the rising to the reigning progressive pop and alternative musicians and DJs of today. As its title suggests, the series is prone to diversifying its guest pool beyond music too. This week, Karen O and the production designer of Spike Jonze’s recent film, Her, will chat with Bentley and O will perform the “The Moon Song,” the Oscar-nominated track she wrote for the film.

KEXP Live In-Studio Performances 

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Seattle’s sly-brow penchant for being ahead of the nation’s music curve gets a nod for radio station KEXP’s live in-studio sessions featuring interviews and live performances. As it prides itself on being a supporter of music discovery, the staff places emphasis on booking a diverse cast of rising buzz bands, artists pursuing solo projects, and the like. 

Selector Radio 

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This streaming website features new British music of all genres. Their no-frills website features an archive of over 60 pages of live sessions, podcasts, and mixes, which are hosted by SoundCloud. Their visual element, SelectorTV, hosts videos of, among other things, live DJ mixes, such as this one by DA-10 below.  

Lightning100: The 615

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Nashville’s independent radio station features a  well-rounded music discovery program called the 615 that explores Nashville’s indie music scene each week. Airing at 6:15pm CST Mondays, each episode features a Local Artist of the week, DJ picks, a “This Just In” portion, live in-studio sessions, and songs by active local bands promoting their live shows. the615 episodes are also found on Lightning100’s SoundCloud

BBC Radio 1: Zane Lowe’s Programming 

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In addition to holding hosting responsibility for the interview that instigated the Kanye-Kimmel feud, New Zealand-born Zane Lowe’s sharp ear for and dedication to new music has launched the discoveries of countless musical zeitgeists in recent history. Haim, the Arctic Monkeys, and Gnarls Barkley are just few of many who got career boosts on international radio thanks to Lowe. His weekly programming features interviews with musicians and cultural figures, as well as live in-studio sessions (such as Bombay Bicycle Club’s recent performance below). 

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