One thing dancers have in common? We’re all obsessed with music. We have our favorite artists, preferred genres, default playlists that we play on repeat.
But staying in the comfort zone of your favorite “type” of music won’t necessarily promote your growth.
When you challenge yourself to find music for dance, you’ll not only expand your music taste, but also improve your dance skills – without even knowing it.
So, how do you find new music? The music that you want to dance to?
Some of the most popular music platforms are Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, and SoundCloud.
Apple Music has a wide selection of music. However, in comparison to other music platforms it is generally catered to “Top 100s charts” type of music.
While its library is specific to popular songs on the radio, Apple Music has “Beats 1 Radio” which is a live-streamed radio station that broadcasts music shows.
Up and coming labels like Soulection have radio time on Beats 1. Aside from live-streaming, Apple Music allows for offline-listening for any music that you save.
Anyone can have a free Spotify account, but there are a lot of ads in between songs.
In my experience, I’ve been able to stream at most 6 songs without an ad break.
Another downside to having a free account is that you’re forced to listen using “shuffle play” on the mobile app.
Meaning – you can search for artists but can’t always play specific songs; usually you’ll have to shuffle through an entire album until your desired song plays.
While you can skip, you’re limited to 6 skips per session.
With a paid account, you can easily discover new music with their curated playlists and discover weekly that gives you songs based on the data generated from your listening history.
The biggest selling point of SoundCloud, especially for dancers, is its diverse range of music.
Anybody with a subscription can post their own content, which allows for a lot of experimental and varied genres.
SoundCloud’s exclusive “repost” feature and its “Discover” capabilities make it stand out among other music platforms. A free SoundCloud membership has very rare ads.
They are usually two, one-minute advertisements for SoundCloud Go+ / Pro Unlimited, and occur every 20 minutes.
The only downsides to having a free account are that you cannot save music offline, and certain songs are exclusive to SoundCloud GO+.
SoundCloud is great for finding new music. In addition to accessing popular artists’ songs, SoundCloud’s defining feature is that ANYBODY can post original music.
If you want to seem like a hipster who knows about artists before they become “mainstream,” use SoundCloud!
I have come across songs and mixes done by people I know, such as: David Lee, John Antonio, and original songs made by extremely talented record groups such as Fête, Future Society Collective, and Soulection.
All of these profiles have a great selection of music that I discovered thanks to SoundCloud’s “repost” feature.
The “repost” feature allows users to repost someone else’s content to their followers; similar to “sharing” a Facebook post on your own timeline.
When an artist that you follow reposts a track or even an entire album from another artist, it shows up in your feed.
The best way to find new music on SoundCloud is to listen to a reposted song on your feed and follow the artist who made it.
That way, you’ll find more of their original tracks, as well as any tracks they repost from artists that they like.
This method made other artists’ profiles easily accessible to me, which helps a lot if you get stuck in choreo block.
Other than reposting, you can find new music through SoundCloud’s “Discover” tab! The Discover tab suggests songs based on your previous likes and reposts.
SoundCloud’s recommendations are especially on point, since it considers more than genre when suggesting songs; other components like tempo and syncopation are factored in.
If you ever feel like you can’t work with a certain song, or want a change in your usual choreography (whether it be faster tempo, different genre), then find new music using SoundCloud!
There is such a wide variety of genres from random artists that are sure to inspire new movement in some way.
Another great thing about SoundCloud: SO. MANY. REMIXES.
A lot of the people I follow use samples of old songs and create entirely new covers.
The most creative remix I know of is by Esta of Soulection, and you can watch its creation here.
In this remix, Esta gave an old song and entirely new modern feeling.
In addition to Esta, artists Flamingosis and Boogie Belgique often make instrumental tracks that give random samples a new feeling.
Flamingosis makes instrumental tracks that sample retro-groovy songs that incorporate synth noises and hard hitting beats.
Boogie Belgique chops up “Big-Band”-esque music and adds upbeat instrumental to it, which is especially good for freestyling.
I usually use these types of remixes for freestyling.
Speaking of freestyling…
Since freestyle is the most raw form of expressing yourself through dance, nobody can really teach you how to do it.
People often tell me to just let go and try new things, and SoundCloud’s large selection of music and its minimalist layout helped me improve a lot on my own.
Whenever I want to create new concepts or moves for freestyling, I let my SoundCloud feed play and freestyle to at least 5 songs nonstop, hearing them for the first time.
Freestyling to a song that you’ve never heard before is GREAT because it catches you off guard.
Sure, every now and then you’ll predict a drop that never happens and awkwardly go full-out to static noise (because SoundCloud artists love that for some reason), but you’ll also have those moments where you become mindless and just move.
By using this method, I have created various tutting combos, sharpened my dime stops, created transitional moves based on floorwork, expanded my range of motion to make bigger pictures, etc.
To challenge myself even more, I look for songs that are extremely unpredictable and/or syncopated, AND I close my eyes while freestyling.
I feel that it is the most effective in creating new ideas for freestyling because it builds a stronger connection between my body and the music, since I can only rely on the music to guide me.
One of my new favorite songs for freestyling is called “joshua (for a school project)” by underscores:
This song has the most unpredictable time-signature change breakdowns, and it combines electronically-altered instruments with complex drum fills which allow for a lot of combo drills.
Aside from freestyling, I like to play this song to practice skills like tutting in time during the time-signature changes, or hitting waves on the various trills throughout the song.
While unpredictability is my favorite quality in a song, SoundCloud’s user design allows you to see the waveform of whatever song you’re listening to.
This gives you a physical representation of the song’s progression that lets you skip to specific parts of a song.
You can see how loud/soft a song becomes, how many “drops” it has, and even predict tempo changes.
Even so, there are still unpredictable elements of a song regardless of their waveform, because you cannot detect pitch changes without listening.
Here are some recommendations for songs with a certain mood or style:
Genre: Trap/Rap | Style: Hard, ghetto
Dancers that come to mind: Archie Saquilabon and Jawn Ha
Genre: Hip-Hop & Rap | Style: Grooves
Genre: Electronic/Funk/Rap | Style: Grooves
Genre: Electronic | Style: Isolations/Waving/Tutting/Popping
Dancer that comes to mind: Charles Nguyen
Genre: Hype Rap | Style: Full-out
Genre: Hype Rap | Style: Full-out
Dancers that come to mind: Bam Martin and Sorah Yang
Genre: Future Funk | Style: House/Tutting/Waving/Popping/Locking
Genre: Electronic/Rap | Style: All
Genre: Electronic | Style: Isolations/Popping/Tutting
Genre: Electronic/R&B | Style: Grooves
By listening to music we’re not familiar with, you can push yourself to create new concepts and practice new skills.
And when you find dope new music, share it with your friends!
Have a freestyle session where you take turns playing new finds for each other, send a teammate a song that reminds you of them, post your curated playlists on your social channels...
After all, music and dance are meant to be shared! Hope these tips help you find new music to dance to, STEEZY Nation!