Most have had that moment when a new song comes on and your ears beam with satisfaction as your body bops along to a new and intriguing beat. Good feelings fill your head while you attempt to sing along to unfamiliar lyrics.
While new music is prevalent on various streaming services and at nearby music venues throughout Madison, students at UW-Madison also have unique access to both support and discover emerging artists through house concerts around campus.
Nick Spiroff loves to host local bands at his house — not only for the chance to host a good party, but because he has a decent space for music and can provide other students with a chance to hear something new.
“There’s nothing quite like the joy of experiencing live music,” he said over text. “Without a local scene a lot of people wouldn’t be able to share in this experience or come across it as frequently.”
Discovering new music and adapting one’s taste is part of human development, and much of this is solidified before we turn 30 largely due to a shift in our brains, according to a recent survey by music streaming service, Dreezer.
By that age, we don’t find new genres and sounds as interesting or appealing, and we tend to prefer more nostalgic sounds — music that we are already used to, the study explained.
A campus that fosters new music
“There’s nothing better than listening to a song for the first time and falling in love with it,” UW-Madison freshman Maggie Jacobs said in a text.
For those looking to enter the college music scene or further progress their prevalence as an artist, Spiroff said the community here at the university is a great one.
“I think that’s one of the coolest things about the local music scene, everyone is very supportive and friendly,” he said. “Before you know it, you’ve built up a tight-knit network of artists and friends. It’s a very symbiotic ecosystem—everyone helps each other get gigs.”
One reason for this communal feel amongst local artists might be the individuality each young, new artist brings to the table. Differences among talented people create a unique level of respect for one another and respect from the audience themselves.
“People really connect with authenticity,” UW alum and LÜM CEO Max Fergus said. “The quality of their music does not make the most impact, but the authenticity of the artist’s brand does.”
LÜM — pronounced “loom” and stands for Live Undiscovered Music — was launched by former UW-Madison students in 2018 with the goal of making it easier for artists to connect with fans.
The role of the internet
Sharing and producing music has grown rapidly in the last 20 years.
And, despite the relatively distant relationship between artists and fans perpetuated by music app giants like Spotify and Apple Music, streaming services are typically the easiest way to both distribute and discover new music.
Jacobs shared her love of live music but explained that she often finds new music online via streaming apps because they are the most accessible and offer a wide variety of sounds.
Both UW-Madison freshman Brion Whyte and junior Benny Koziol make their own music and share it with their peers — most predominantly through streaming applications.
“I think our generation is at a pretty amazing time when streaming technology and the abundance of listening options in music is really quite staggering,” Koziol said over text.
It makes sense for artists to rely heavily on technology to share their music as the internet provides an opportunity for local artists to reach an audience that extends far beyond a house concert or small venue event.
Artists, listeners connect
Despite the prominence of online sharing in the music world, Fergus said artists — especially college-aged ones — gain popularity through a combination of live performances and through social media/online sharing.
Typically, live performances are in the equation of what makes a successful artist because of the unique perspective it brings to our consumption of music — listening through headphones or from a device is only one way to experience music.
“There’s often a disconnect between the artist and the listener when music is played through a speaker or headphones. Such connection can only be experienced live,” Jacobs said.
And this isn’t true just for the audience — artists, too, agree there’s something different and incomparable about the in person experience.
“I don’t think I can ever forget [the night of my first live show], every aspect of performing is so fun and I love it,” Whyte shared over text.
House concerts in particular can create a unique feeling of being apart of the action, contributing to a more connected overall experience with the artist.
“Smaller venues make for a more personalized experience between the performers and listeners,” Jacobs said. “At a smaller venue everyone gets to experience the show as if they were VIP.”
Music’s undiscovered territory can be in digital form, as it is usually more convenient. However, there is something to be said for how special the discovery of music can be in live settings.
“Live music is a special thing — and it feels too good to help people experience it,” Spiroff said.