The Internet has amazing potential to expose us to new things. I’ve seen a six-way alley-oop impeccably coordinated like a Rube Goldberg machine built out of bored teenagers. I’ve seen too many cat videos and GIFs to count, which may or may not have resulted in me making the monumental leap to liking cats. But as a music nerd lifer, one of the most exciting aspects of the Internet is its ability to expose us to new music. My lamentation over the fall of the local record store has been mildly (if not temporarily) assuaged by the boundless access to music I have over my WiFi connection. This is one positive tradeoff of the music world morphing into a digital approximation of its former self: music is everywhere, and it’s mostly free.

Services like Spotify, Soundcloud, Pandora, Grooveshark, and Rdio have made big bucks exploring and exploiting this very idea. It’s a goldmine, and it’s a perfect target for the startup world. So it’s no surprise that innovative music discovery platforms seem to pop up constantly, each using their own creative approach to helping music fans discover hidden gems that were only accessible by slim chance even 15 years ago. I’ve come across obscure Ghanaian High Life music and field recordings of Blues greats using these services. I’ve also been able to share a playlist with friends for a Friday night party, and follow musical trends as they grow and fade. Without a doubt, these music discovery platforms give users access to an insane amount of music. Out of the countless music startups around the world, the following 10 sites and apps, all of which are free or very close to free, are the best music discovery platforms available right now. Take a look and happy hunting.