The internet is awash with great ways of discovering new music. From established blogs like The Quietus and Pitchfork, to angry rants from teenage fanboys, and from corporately funded radio stations to tiny independent ventures, there will always be a fast track to discovering your new favourite band.
Internet radio is one of the more powerful tools of this discovery process, and it’s these smaller stations that we celebrate today.
Some are well established figures on the independent music scene, some (quite a few actually) are student stations run to a high standard of professionalism, while others look like they were just knocked together in an afternoon and stuck up online among some clip-art. All have something interesting to offer though, and that’s why they are included here.
Though its website may look like it was crudely thrown together by an angsty teen using Wordart, DKFM is actually one of the world’s most established internet radio stations when it comes to all things shoegaze, new gaze, dream pop, and bliss rock. That same website serves as second purpose as a fairly in-depth shoegaze blog too, so you’re never too far from discovering your next favourite band. The station’s mission is to “create a new generation of followers for this spectacular, dreamy style of music while still satisfying the tastes of the seasoned listener”, and you can listen in through a number of services such as iTunes, Live 365 and the TuneIn app.
Seattle staked its claim to the indie-rock throne around the time homegrown bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam were taking over the world with grunge, and has remained an integral part of the world music scene ever since. The city’s KEXP station plays out like a US XFM (although obviously way cooler), and when we tuned in as part of our research they were playing Sebadoh tracks back to back as part of the Morning Show! With regular sessions archived on their YouTube channel, and all manner of regular podcast updates, KEXP is sure to be filling your record collection with some new discoveries pretty soon.
Down in LA we have KCRW, which is essentially the south-west of America’s answer to KEXP. It deals very much in the same aesthetic of music, with an equally impressive array of live session videos uploaded to its YouTube channel regularly, and all manner of podcast goodies for you to subscribe to to keep your ears fresh with new music.
4. Resonance FM
Resonance FM contains around 100 regular series on every imaginable subject, from more typical radio station fare like indie-rock to found-sound specials, and even programmes focusing on the development of third world countries. An ecelectic schedule like that demands an equally eclectic tag, and this London-based “radio art” station is diverse to say the least, with content covering the leftfield and niche, while still maintaining a number of series with more of a general appeal.
5. Oui FM
If KEXP is America’s answer to XFM, then Oui FM is France’s version, mixing the very best of classic indie and rock hits from years gone by alongside some more contemporary numbers by up and coming bands. Throw in a load of tracks by French bands you’ve almost certainly never heard of up until now, and the new music discoveries will come pouring in thick and fast.
Broadcasting across the capital (and the world online) since 2011, Reprezent FM is the UK’s only radio station presented by young people under the age of 25. What that means is the unavoidable energy and enthusiasm that younger presenters can bring to the table, so if you’re one put off by the ‘yoof’ programming of the likes of BBC Three, it might be one to avoid. The stations’ DJs and presenters work in the music industry, run their own clubs nights and produce their own music – which means the station remains on the cutting edge of music across a range of genres, though their playlists are predominantly new urban and dance music. There are also regular features and campaigns on youth–related issues like unemployment and sexual health.
Another French station, FIP combines the leftfield tastes of BBC 6 Music with that relaxed tone of a late-night Radio 3 session. Add to the fact it’s all broadcast from Paris and you’ll get some pretty big cool points for listening to this (because we all know that’s what it’s all about). The station’s mission statement is clear: “to broadcast an eclectic mix of music uninterrupted by the kind of noisy chitchat and advertising that you find almost everywhere else on French radio.” Such care is taken over the programming and the was that two seperate tracks run together, that you”ll nearly always find a consistent listening experience with no sudden shifts in genre or tone.
8. Clocktower Radio
New York’s Clocktower Building was the heart of the city’s art scene during the 1970s and 1980s, so it’s particularly fitting that this arts station is broadcast from the historic structure. Featuring music, interviews, documentaries and completely new experimental pieces by some of the world’s most renowned artists for you to listen to, all of their original content is available to listen to again on demand on the station’s website.
Being a professional radio DJ must be great. But the only downside is that no matter which station you are broadcasting on, your choice of tracks will be dictated somewhat by the station’s general output, and what the higher-ups have deemed worthy of appearing on the playlist. But WRUV gives its DJs complete freedom over what they play in their weekly slots, which leads to eclectic mixes as much as it does ill-judged choices. Always an exciting listen, WRUV broadcasts from the University of Vermont.
10. Broadway World
Something a little bit different for our list now, which has dabbled in the smoky cool of indie-rock and the arts. Sometimes though, you just gotta let it all go with some fabulous show tunes, and there’s no better station on the internet to do so than Broadway World. It’s been around for about a decade now, and also deals in theatre based news and features.
Broadcasting out of the Netherlands (we’re guessing it stands for Dutch FM), this station deals in everything. Literally everything. At the moment we tuned in, it was blasting out 200bpm happy hardcore, which was a bit of a shock for a Friday afternoon. But their website also lists everything from “Drone Noise”, “Digital Trash” and “Clips and Plops”. The station has also been known to play the audio from nature documentaries in their entirety. If we didn’t know any better, we’d say the programmers had been indulging in a few fragrant brownies. Always something new to surprise you with this one.
Another gem from the vibrant US University radio station scene that seems to have a firm grip on internet radio, this one is run from the University of Missouri, and plays a wide range of musical genres: everything from jazz to ambient soundscapes. Their website also doubles as a pretty efficiently run, student focused music blog so is well worth a look.
13. 192 Radio
Another Dutch creation, 192 Radio continues the good work of Radio Veronica, an off-shore ‘pirate’ radio station that provided the pop-obsessed listeners of the Netherlands with music they often struggled to get hold of anywhere else between 1960 and 1974. Once a less than liberal Dutch government passed anti-pirate legislation it was shut down, but 40 years later this online version continues in a similar – but much more legal – vein. The website comes with a decidedly retro vibe too, which is always nice.
14. Eurovision Song Contest Radio
File this one alongside the Broadway station earlier in this list under ‘guilty pleasure’. If you’re a huge fan of the annual music contest, or if you just fancy a bit of cheesy, high-camp fun on a lazy afternoon, this station is the one. This official station of the competition plays entries from recent competitions, as well as choice cuts from way back in the event’s illustrious history.
ANOTHER amazing example of student led radio (it seems the UK has a lot to learn), this one hails from the University of Illinois, which is situated in the amazingly named town of Normal. Nothing is ‘normal’ about the eclectic programming, which can range from spoken word shows to blues and jazz.
16. Irish Pub Radio
Originally designed for the owners of Irish pubs (hugely popular on the continent) to have something to play to their patrons for that authentic Emerald Isle feel, somewhere along the line some bright spark had the great idea to allow its stream to anybody on the internet. What you’ll find is Irish music of all sorts, from traditional folk songs to contemporary pop. And plenty of craic.
17. Salford City Radio
Since the BBC’s move to Media City a few years ago, it’s seemed that the broadcasting mega corporation is the only gig in town for budding media types. Not so, and Salford City Radio goes some way to prove that, offering some excellent community programming that focuses on local issues and stories from further afield, while also playing some great music. The station features around 80 original programmes and former Hacienda DJ Graeme Park is a regular contributor.