There are a million ways to be heard, and for a new artist, that sounds promising. In some ways, it is—but it can also be confusing. We see overnight success stories exploding from new social media platforms, increasingly loud voices parading as tastemakers and influencers, and good old-fashioned marketing being drowned out by viral antics. After they've made a song, where is a new artist supposed to focus their attention?

The combination of streaming and social media turned the music industry upside down, and one thing is for certain: there's no right way to do things. A thousand other acts could try to replicate Lil Nas X's come-up or follow Dominic Fike's path, and it almost certainly wouldn't work. At the end of the day, every artist has to figure out their own path, but it can't hurt to be armed with some guiding principles. 

With that in mind, we talked to some professionals in the music and media worlds about how they discover music today, and what a new artist can do to cut through the noise and give their music the best shot to be heard by the right people.