I asked a simple question – nicked wholesale from Steve M on Poptimists -“What’s your favourite current song and how did you first hear it?”

Here are the answers I got.

Slaid Cleaves – “Cry” (“read about the album on a USENET group”)
The Ventures – “Tequila” (“My son’s guitar teacher assigned it, and it’s absolutely stuck in my head.”)
Bat For Lashes – “Glass” (“probably via Drowned In Sound”)
Telepopmusik – “Breathe” (“@carlastephanie showed it to me”)
Phoenix – “Lisztomania” (“first heard on a blog who posted a leaked MP3. Then heard SNL performance on Hulu.com”)
Crazy Cousinz – “Inflation” (“heard on dancefloor @ fwd @ the end, it prompted me to declare that 09 would be the yr of the xylophone”)
Pet Shop Boys – “All Over The World” (“First heard it previewed during their Brit’s medley, which I watched on Youtube“)
Buraka Som Sistema – “Kurum” (“picked up the album because of “Sound of Kuduro,” & discovered this track”)
Theresa Andersson – “Birds Fly Away” (“which my boyfriend hipped me to”)
Metronomy – “Radio Ladio (Mae Shi Remix)” (“through the Mae Shi”)
Cryptacize – “Tail And Mane” (“streamed it (along with the rest of the album) at the band’s Muxtape“)
Polarkreis 18 – “The Colour Of Snow” (“through The Singles Jukebox!”)
Lovebugs – “The Highest Heights” (“It’s this year’s Swiss Eurovision entry, and it’s *cough* a bit Stadium Indie.”)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Zero” (“First heard (seen) on MTV2”)
Kasabian – “Vlad The Impaler” (“after receiving email from band mailout”)
Crystal Vipers – “Bringer Of The Light” (“1st heard when I DLed the album. The truest metal comes from Poland nowadays”)
Pallers – “Humdrum” (“At the Labrador website.”)
Don Omar – “Virtual Diva” (“got off a dirty rapidshare blog, mebbe hear-it-first.net”)
“‘I’m a Stranger and Afraid’ first heard on Andy Kershaw on R1” (This is probably BB King’s “A World I Never Made” – not on YT if so)
Micachu And The Shapes – “Calculator” (“first heard off MBV’s stream of the album”)
Antony And The Johnsons – “Dust And Water” (Fan Video – mild NSFW) (“I’ve been a follower of Antony for years.”)

Now, this is a tiny and wholly unrepresentative sample – but I know two things about them. They’re on Twitter, and they follow me: which means they’re either interested in music, social media, research or some combination of the three. So I still find what they have to say intriguing.

Let’s pretend these people are an audience segment. “Tom’s mates on Twitter” would be the honest name for them, but instead I’ll put my fancy researcher hat on and call them “Digitally Engaged Music Seekers” – DEMS. What can I hypothesise about DEMS from these answers?

1. Forget traditional broadcast media: it’s entertaining but it’s not a source of anything much – only two people mentioned radio or video channels.

2. Blogs are important, but so’s direct band/artist communication: I was surprised by how many people heard favourite tracks through direct digital connection with artists or labels – no intermediary required.

3. Word of mouth can be casual: music gets transmitted across pretty weak ties – guitar teachers and twitter friends as well as mates and boyfriends.

4. Serendipity matters: I get the feeling that most replies weren’t seeking out new music so much as putting themselves in the way of it and being alert and vaguely open to its possibility.

5. The Long Tail lives!: I am a pop fan and so I was expecting to see more records named which are hits or at least have some chance of it. Instead the bulk of them I’d never even heard of.

OK, all of this is speculative – but I think at least it’s an interesting snapshot of how people roughly like me listen to and for music now.