As I was cruising the highway recently, I was desperately scanning the radio dial for some music to energize my soul. While not my intent, I happened across a local NPR affiliate. They were airing an interview featuring the author of a current best seller and his take on how we fall into certain patterns of behavior. In a nutshell these patterns or ‘habits’ are made up three parts – cue, routine, and reward. For example – you hop in the car (the cue), turn on the radio (the routine) and enjoy listening to the resultant music (the reward). Now, of course, this applies to almost everything we do; whether it’s eating, shopping, exercise, or of course listening to music. The rub is, over time, the reward (music) ends up taking a back seat as we become desensitized to the same-old, same-old. Routine gets the better of us and we end up allowing ourselves down the path of least resistance.
Fortunately, times have never been better for those of us who are eager to seek out new artists and their wares. Technology has allowed us sources of music discovery unheard of not that long ago. Streaming sites such asMOG, Last.fm, Pandora, Spotify and Grooveshark (to name a few) top the list as go-tos and have dramatically changed the way we listen and acquire music. Music subscription sites which include Rhapsody and Rdio , among others, have a fee based structure which gives you access to deep catalogs without the annoying interruption of ads which are found on the free streaming sites or broadcast radio. Satellite radio is another option for on the go ad free music with the added benefit of genre focused programming.
One of my favorite technology driven music related sites, however, has to be none other than YouTube. Not only do you have the pleasure of listening to great music of your choosing, but it comes with the added bonus of a visual element. The suggestions column to the right of any currently selected video has introduced me to a wide variety of music that often has me staying up much later in the evenings than I should. Probably the best aspect of YouTube is its accessibility to upload videos by practically anyone with a means to record and then share them via an internet connection.
Without question, however, my preferred source of new and inspirational music has always been live performance. Our area here in the Carolinas is blessed with incredible talent and a rich history of performing artists. At times it is overwhelming as to the choices available in any given week – concerts, restaurants, pubs, house parties- even churches are among the many available options for those brave enough willing to stray from the comfort and security of their wi-fi access. Now more than ever before we are the beneficiaries of musicians who seek to share their craft with others.
Mixing up our music listening habits is never easy, but the pay-off can reap huge rewards. The stimulus of new music has been proven to boost brain activity, lift your mood and generally make you a pretty hip cat. Most of us are resistant to change as we tend to find comfort in the familiar, but how drab would our existence be without it? Open yourself to new music and I’m sure you’ll benefit in ways you’ve never imagined.