Using soundtracks to find hidden gems
We live in an era where there the volume of music available to us is almost overwhelming. On the positive side of things, older music is easier than ever for us to access by using the internet as an archive for it all, and newer music is becoming easier to produce and create on all fronts, leading to a great influx of new talent both well-known and independent.
But such a volume comes with its downsides. What if you like a song or a genre and don’t know where to go to find more like it? Well I’m here to share a (not so) secret that I’ve used since I was in high school to expand my musical taste without feeling lost and blindly searching the internet without a clear target. Movie and TV soundtracks (not scores) are the key.
Soundtracks differ from scores because while a score is composed of wordless original, usually classical or ambient, music that was written specifically for the show, a soundtrack is music that was hand- picked usually by music supervisors whose job is to find songs that fit the vibe and feeling of a show or episode. You can use that to your advantage.
Let’s say you adore a song you found on an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy,” and you really want more not just by that artist, but potential other artists that sound like them. Instead of blinding throwing it out into the void and trying artists one by one along a thread, try looking for the soundtrack to that episode or season of the show.
The actual compilation found in places like Spotify or iTunes, or sites like tunefind.com, can be great to find what exactly was played in the show, and other artists that also appeared in each episode and season. Of course there will always be a diverse range of songs and artists (which to me is a great thing) but it’s almost a guarantee there will be artists and songs similar to the one you enjoyed, which adds another song to love and another artist for you to add to your collection.
This also has the added benefit of exposing a lot of smaller artists, who often can be found with their music being licensed out to TV shows, to a greater number of people. The compilation and soundtrack for each movie and show may be released by big record companies, but many of the artists are independent and less well-known. You finding them, enjoying them, and spreading them to friends and family gives them greater exposure and helps them in their musical quest.
Greg Laswell is one such an artist who has had songs in many network television dramas watched by thousands upon thousands of people. But yet he still plays small clubs and coffee houses when he tours. By discovering an artist like that through soundtracks of shows I like, I’d like to think I’m digging through layers of so much music to find a hidden gem. And you can do the same, and believe me, there is a wealth of hidden gems. Now more so than ever.
It’s almost inevitable that we’ll find a song we enjoy through another piece of media, but if it’s a movie or TV show, you have a great way in to find your next favorite artist.
Motion.Picture.Soundtrack is a weekly column by Whig Accent editor Kris Kielich discussing all things worth knowing in the world of music, movies and pop culture. At least in his humble opinion. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Soundtracks to TV shows and movies can provide a wealth of independent artists whose music might cater to your tastes.