Me, Otis Gibbs, and the Joy of Discovering New Music

I read a post about John Moreland on Bob Lefsetz’s blog. Later, as I surfed Spotify, Moreland’s name popped into my mind, and I pulled up his latest album.

After sampling a few tunes I checked Related Artists; this is one of my favorite features and a helpful road map to a variety of artists I have a) overlooked in the past, b) just hit the scene that I’m not aware of yet, or c) I have just never ever heard of for whatever reason.

A few clicks later, and I am knee-deep into the musical output of Otis Gibbs. I had never heard of Otis Gibbs. I liked the name, so I figured I would check him out.

But now I really like Otis Gibbs!

Sure, I might have eventually caught up with the singer-songwriter via a blog, Twitter post, or whatever, but more likely I would have continued on having never heard of Otis Gibbs.

And that would be too bad for me because I am enjoying his music.

His most recent release is titled Mount Renraw, a solid mix of country-folk tunes that I really like, along with a sampling of songs from his previous albums.

He also hosts a popular podcast, Thanks for Giving a Damn, which I have read is very cool.

So there’s another great thing I found out about thanks to music streaming.

I still look to certain music magazines and music websites for recommendations on new and classic music to investigate, but nothing compares to the snappy discovery of music via music streaming platforms.

It’s not all gold, but I get a thrill from the process, jumping from one artist to another, one genre to another, searching for something new to spark my musical interests.

And when that happens, it’s a deep dive into a new disocography to obsess about.

I might not get back to Otis Gibbs for awhile, but now a few of his songs are on one of my playlists, and I can put him on my radar for future releases.

This story has played out countless times over the years via Spotify and my journey through the pages of Related Artists.

Spotify’s Discover Weekly also fits the bill for pointing me in interesting directions for new music – both timely and timeless.

I’ve read some good articles about the negative side of music discovery on streaming platforms.

This is how Jonny Coleman’s LA Weekly article from 2016 opens…

All of the major streaming platforms tout the fact that they are an amazing way to discover new artists. But for more serious listeners, that claim is usually empty. I’ve never “discovered” an artist I didn’t know through an “if you liked X, you’ll probably like Y” algorithm, all of which seem capable of delivering only the most obvious results. And all of these services have giant holes in their catalogs, which, for musical completists, makes them not worth crossing the paywall.

I take an opposite view because I have ‘discovered’ plenty of artists via streaming platforms. I’m not Nic Harcourt-level music genius, but I try to keep up with what’s new, what’s timeless. But lord knows I have missed a lot along the way.

The ‘discovery’ baked into the streaming platform is my chance to catch up – be it music from 30 years ago, or just last week.

I do agree about the missing titles in one catalog to the next. It’s always one particular album missing, which drives me crazy. Why is The Motels’ Little Robbers not available? Why?!

I love Dionne Warwick. But I didn’t know too much about Randy Crawford. But she’s part of Warwick’s Related Artists page, so it was easy for me to jump over and get acquainted with Crawford’s music. Once again, glad I did, because I love all the music I have listened to from her catalog.

Her version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Over My Head” is amazing. The whole album – Miss Randy Crawford – is a delight.

My newly-acquired interest in Randy Crawford’s music is because my journey via Spotify led me to her. I still had to click. I still had to have some idea of her music I might have heard in the past to propel me to take the time to investigate.

But in the end the music was all right there for me to find. And now I am happier for it because this was terrific music I was missing out on – until now!

And there’s a lot more out there that’s either slipped through my fingers, or I was just too young and/or preoccupied to appreciate when it debuted.

But I’m finding so much great music. It’s a joy.

The search continues….



Photo of Otis by Todd Fox

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