What a time to be alive if you are music fan. Like so many other things, technology has made music more accessible than ever. Services like Spotify, YouTube and Soundcloud have changed how we listen, discover and share music.

The freedom those services provide allow everyone to find their niche and explore it to it’s extent, eliminating the burdening physical limitations that came with traditional formats from vinyl to CDs. Music has gone full digital and has never been more searchable. As a result, world music has never been more accessible and there are plenty of talented artists outside of your native language.

Diversity is on everyone’s mind, so why not diversify your listening? Expose yourself to cultures you haven’t yet through their music. If you wanted you could immerse yourself in Japanese ambient music from the ‘80s, or listen to a mix someone made because they had the interest already (google Fairlights, Mallets and Bamboo Vol.2). Or how about the Ethiopian jazz stylings of Mulatu Astatke?

The possibilities are actually endless.

I find it so strange that we have moved from the radio DJ deciding what you hear to having free reign — and heavily constructed pop music is still the dominant genre on streaming services.

I get it; music is a business and you have to make your money and pop music is made with the intention to be catchy and easily consumed. However, the side effect is that because it is so saturated it becomes easily forgettable.

Now I’m not trying to say don’t listen to pop music or popular artists. They are popular for a reason. It has its place in the world and great pop songs will come out all the time. But don’t fall into the trap of letting radio, social media or trends decide what you listen to. Gather what you can of our reduced attention spans and commit to some music discovery and active listening.

Nobody talks about or plays Jason Derulo’s massive hit Wiggle from 2014 anymore. What about Gangnam Style? Now Despacito is the big viral hit ready to be forgotten in the new year.

Good art will last. Music that moves not only your feet but also your deeper emotions will always stand the test of time. I encourage everyone to go and find those artists. Take a chance on someone you’ve never heard of, if you don’t like it move on. Listen to a whole album instead of just the single.

There are so many amazing artists and “bangers” that you just don’t know exist yet. If everyone was able to diversify their listening, we could talk and share and discover like never before.

Ottawa Beat, a music publication that gets distributed around the city, has a list of all the live shows going on by date and venue in each issue. Take a chance and have a night out with bands you’ve never heard of. There is plenty of research that attending live shows make you a happier person. Don’t wait for the one time a big artist comes to town to play a stadium show. Instead, pick a venue you like and go to one of the many shows with local artists going on in Ottawa every week. You may be surprised. There are more talented musicians in your own city than you or I might assume.

So pay for Apple Music or Spotify (it is so worth it) and explore. Spotify is loaded with features to help you find songs and artists that are perfect for your taste.

Don’t listen to Pitchfork reviews, don’t let fads or the mainstream take you away in the undertow. You already express yourself with fashion choices, social media aesthetics and interests, so why should your music taste not stand out too?