Nowadays, our taste in music can be shaped by Spotify recommendations, TikTok algorithms and whatever friends happen to suggest. In this sense, any new music you may encounter won't drastically deviate from the genres and music you already listen to.
To break up this cycle and expand your horizons, student radio – especially UNC's WXYC 89.3FM – is a great place to start.
Opening up Spotify oftentimes serves as a way to self-reflect on our music listening habits. When you first hop onto the app, you have access to a scrolling feed of curated playlists, such as one based on songs you've recently played or album picks based on songs you've listened to. Algorithms dictate most of our listening behavior, but they don't have to.
Furthermore, some of the music you love on Spotify or other platforms won't always be there. In the past, artists like Joni Mitchell and Neil Young have pulled their music over concerns that Spotify enables far-right commentators and misinformation.
The lack of music might not even be on artists themselves, but sometimes an issue of technical issues. This happened on March 8, when Spotify’s servers were temporarily down. If Spotify was your only means of listening to music, you couldn’t hear your favorite songs that entire afternoon.
What you could have done, on the other hand, was turn to student-led radio. UNC's WXYC, accessible both at wxyc.org and on their iPhone app, is always broadcasting and usually plays interesting, new music that you might not have discovered otherwise.
WXYC DJ Sean Sabye said it is important to shift away from traditional music streaming services.
“Before I became a DJ, I think a lot of my more obscure music choices were predicated on whatever my music streaming platform denoted as 'obscure,'" he said. "Now, I think I’m far more open to music that doesn’t find its sole appeal in its ease of listening"
The idea of “ease of listening” is key – it's perfectly reasonable to listen to relaxing, comforting music that you know and love, but listening to the radio is a fun way to branch out and support the students curating these playlists and tracks.