Us­ing sound­tracks to find hid­den gems

Cecil Whig - - ACCENT -

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, 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 kkielich@ches­


Sound­tracks to TV shows and movies can pro­vide a wealth of in­de­pen­dent artists whose mu­sic might cater to your tastes.

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