What To Do When You’re Bored of Music

There are few True Music Obsessives (TMOs) out there: people who simply must listen to something on the daily (be it old/new, radio or album). The average timeframe for listening to new music is remarkably short. A casual fan starts their own personal journey around the age of 16 (a point where you start liking artists because you like them, not because of voices trying to influence your taste), and research indicates that by the age of 33, most folk barely bother searching for anything undiscovered.

To a TMO, this is an alien concept.

We started listening to new albums by the age of six; made painstakingly curated playlists (the original “mixtapes”) jacked off the Top 40 Charts; got our hits via vinyl, cassette, CD, MP3, or streaming services. Failing that, we’d do it ourselves: become the go-to music nerds at school, thread the headphone cable through our school uniforms so teachers didn’t notice, hang around record shops, carry the bags of a DJ, sneak out to gigs and clubs... For many, this is simply a warm reminder of youth; yet for a TMO it aptly describes the past, present and future.

So, what to do if you’re bored of music? It all sounds the same nowadays, right? Well, here are ten top tips from the TMO community:

  1. Join a streaming service, be it one from Google, Apple, Tidal, Spotify or Deezer. Some have free ad-supported options, but if you’re a TMO, it’s likely that you already pony up the tenner a month. Almost every noteworthy album ever created is covered, but factor in radio shows, curated playlists to suit your mood and the ability to upload your own iTunes library, and you should be well covered.
  2. Revisit the formative albums of your youth. This can cut both ways: hitting the play button on Bob Marley’s “Legend” was a gorgeous trip down memory lane; listening back on Vanilla Ice’s “To The Extreme” proved a truly chastening experience. Assuming it’s a good one, hearing it with fresh ears and the benefit of perspective can bring an old LP back to life, and you’ll almost certainly understand it more deeply.
  3. You probably missed out on a classic era of SOME genre… Too young to appreciate it? Focus was elsewhere? With a streaming service, you can catch up on those classic albums that passed you by. A twelve year old kid probably wouldn’t get Nas’ “Illmatic” and Nirvana’s “Nevermind” until they are a bit older. Grace Jones released “Nightclubbing” when I was two. A tenner a month gives instant access to all of this, frequently with remastered/deluxe versions for the TMOs. (It’s also cheaper than buying the albums individually).
  4. Podcasts. A strange suggestion, but there are podcasts out there for and by the TMO community that can recommend quality new music, usually in the form of an online radio show (even a big name one can be solid listening, for example Tiesto). Podcasts can also delve into a forensic level of detail about albums you know and love: two TMOs recently ran a 4-part series talking about M.I.A. and her last four albums. To some, this would be torture; to her (TMO) fans, a delight.
  5. Books. Another funny one. Yes, a book like “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die” isn’t perfect, but it can certainly prove extremely useful, especially as a more immediate reference source. Stuck? Can’t be bothered to go online? Flick open the book to any random page, and it’s likely to give you something interesting. There are also plenty of talented music critics who make daily recommendations, and some even sell e-books for practically nothing.
  6. Explore different genres. Some TMOs have a wide, shallow taste in musical genres; others, a narrow but deep focus, obsessing over a few greats. Genre hopping is one of the most ear-opening experiences possible, and arguably a shortcut to a deeper level of understanding, as one starts to realise how interlinked art truly is. Hip hop, rap, house and rock all contain multiple sub-genres, but if you focus on the quality releases, genre soon becomes almost irrelevant.
  7. Critics. There are so many great websites and media publications. It can become bewildering, so let Metacritic do the heavy lifting and aggregate review scores for you. It quickly separates the wheat from the chaff. Welcome side-effect: it also neatly shows you which publications are more your style, having clicked on the reviews.
  8. Radio. Reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. There are plenty of worthwhile radio shows, hence why it remains the most powerful vehicle for getting new music to the people. At every level, from newbie to casual to TMO, there is truly something for everyone. Bonus: totally free! It should still be going strong a century from now.
  9. DJ mixes. Now, this may not be entirely applicable to every genre of music, but for most, you can now access an endless array of DJ mixes for free (let’s not talk about copyright issues right now). Be it through SoundCloud, Mixcloud or a hustler on the street selling you her blendtape for a fiver, it’s all out there. Hip hop, EDM, bhangra, K-pop… The world is yours.
  10. Ask a TMO. This is, without doubt, the most powerful way to shake off the funk and rediscover your love of music. The TMO community cares more than anyone about our beloved art, and we’re always on the lookout for new recruits. Be it in person, online forums, Twitter/Facebook, DJ gigs, or on the train back from Wembley Stadium after seeing a megastar, you can count on us to provide you with tailored recommendations, and for the eager students, a full-scale curriculum. We are the world, we are the mavens.
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