Music fans of a certain age are familiar with that uncanny feeling of standing in the middle of a record store, money in wallet, and having no idea what they want to listen to. Nowadays, you carry that whole record store in your pocket with you at all times, but with so much possibility still the only thing you can think of is “Who Let The Dogs Out?” This generation has a solution: music discovery apps. Specifically designed to get you out of that musical rut, find your new favourite band, even give you something new to hum for a minute. And that’s great. If you’re stuck, why not get your friend (or a friendly algorithm approximating the taste a friend) to help you out?
But here’s the thing: we’re music writers, not tech writers. We’ve heard every single released as a lyric video on YouTube this morning, every album hitting stores next week, and can tell you the three obscure krautrock records they’re ripping off. Our inboxes are bursting with music one-sheets we’ll never read. We burned our tongues because we wanted to sip the coffee before it was cool. But hey, that also makes us the best people to test the leading music discovery apps. What can we discover from these apps that we haven’t already heard, posted, and called “atmospheric”? Will these offer us anything new? And will we keep them when we’re done?
So we put them to the test the best way we knew how as citizens of the smart phone age: we gave them each two minutes of our time to see if we could discover anything new. Here’s how they fared: