How do you discover new content?

We all know it by now. It really doesn’t need to be said out loud. But regardless of how overstated it is, the fact that we live in an information age where everything is at our fingertips, does not get any less true.

But in a world where we’re constantly bombarded with advertisements and where people are starting to wise up to the fact that not everything we see online is true, how do we discover new content? How do we find that new band we’ve never heard of before, how do we scout out the latest must-have addition to our shelves?

The internet is a remarkable tool for finding both new music and new literature. I had to cancel my Spotify premium subscription as it was just an expense I couldn’t justify. But spotify is an amazing way to find new music. Some of my favourite songs at the moment I could almost certainly not tell you anything else the band or artist has done but that one song that came up on my ‘discover’ playlist is a keeper forever. With regards to books, I find Goodreads is a great way to find related titles to books I have loved or just to randomly explore and get tempted by rave reviews and…I am guilty of it, judging books by their covers.

But I do sometimes worry that this leaves me open to only hearing about things that these companies want me to know about. Goodreads is owned by Amazon and they are professionals when it comes to targeted advertising. Spotify too, I wonder how much of the new music I hear about is because they are being paid to tell me about it rather than it being something totally new.

Not that this is a horrendous thing, if I still enjoy the books and the music then there isn’t really a problem. As a consumer I suppose I have the choice as to whether I engage with the advertising and being aware of the fact that I am in many ways the product rather than the customer helps me to not feel quite like I’m being hoodwinked.

But that slight inkle of concern about whether what I’m being told is entirely genuine is what leads me to my absolute favourite method of finding new content: the recommendations of friends.

My all time favourite book – for now – is ‘The Night circus’ by Erin Morgenstern. I have read it more times than I would care to confess. The only reason it ever found it’s way into my possession was through the raving review given to it by a friend. Music, theatre, films, television, they are all the same. If a friend tells me it will be worth my time and money I am 100 times more likely to go for it.

Reviews from strangers are all well and good, staff recommendations in local bookshops will catch my eye nine times out of ten. But it is the element of trust that comes with having someone who, to the best of my knowledge, is in no way being encouraged to ‘bear false witness’ that makes it my favourite way of discovering new content.

How do you find new things? Please tell me your secrets, my friends are tired of me pestering them for book suggestions.

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