When it comes to audio entertainment I’m always go to anime first. While most people would use the radio (both online or “offline”/on-air radio) for music discovery, I use anime instead. I treat anime like a music discovery tool in a similar way people treat the radio. It is because to me music discovered from anime is like music of “the chosen one”. There must be something special about it that it became the OP/ED/BGM of an anime. In other words, listening to anime music is like listening to something of special value, a value that is usually missing from randomly discovered music in radio.
Anime maybe my default music discovery tool but it is not the only one. There are at least 3 other sources for my music, namely games (eroge/visual novel included), Jdrama and not to forget doujin music circles. That said if I were to make a ranking anime has always be at the top, followed by the rest. I hardly take recommendations because I can’t simply accept it. For me music has to be good not only for my ears but also “good” in terms of being used in anime.
So how did some music that didn’t come from the above sources ended up in my collection anyway? Well, if you look carefully they are either classics, music from the yesteryear, nostalgic music from my distant past that I’ll always be fond of (like the vintage rock in the 70’s & 80’s). Even if you still managed to find newer/recent non-anime/games/jdrama/doujin music in my collection, again look carefully and you’ll find they’re sung by the same artists who sing for some of the sources above.
Recently anime music has become less interesting to me. I don’t think I’m the one who have changed, it must be the anime. Although I listen to many kinds of music I usually tend to pick Jrock over Jpop, as well as classical orchestra and new age music (that includes Gregorian and Celtic too). I think the most recent “good” orchestra music I’ve heard is “Mini Ika Musume na Hibi” from Ika Musume Season 1 OST. That was years after the last one, which is “Ailes Grise” from the anime Haibane Renmei. I wish more anime could have orchestra music too, at least as the BGM piece if not as the OP/ED.
When it comes to composer though I like Yuki Kajiura‘s works very much. Her works, accompanied by the awesome voices from her “FictionJunction” project and the girl band “Kalafina” really add extra powerful touches to her music. To be honest so far she is the only composer in the world that I like all of her creations. Even for other composers, there’s always at least one of their works that I can’t stand listening for long.
Speaking about my favorite music and the composer, of course it would be unfair without me mentioning my favorite singer/musician too. I like it when Hanazawa-san sings for anime but not all of her song sounds good to my ears. The same also true for my other favorite female artist, KOKIA. She has super awesome voice but I’m not ‘compatible’ with all her songs. That is why I rarely purchase a whole album of any artist. BTW I can’t mention Miku Hatsune here though since her songs and music really depends on the composer behind her, not herself. For musician/band/circle I mostly listen to music from IOSYS, supercell (just to name a few) because of their relationship with anime fandom in general (not necessarily have direct connection to anime but they have some affinity or association with anything anime-ish, including the Touhou Project).
Before I end this let me tell you I don’t stick to a certain artist/genre when it comes to music though I may have a tendency towards classical orchestra music as I’ve mentioned earlier. I only follow the song/music. Therefore if the music sounds good enough to my ears, and it comes from the sources I mentioned above I’d most likely grab it and I don’t care who’s behind it. The only reason I’d care about the artist behind it is to allow me to look for more works from that artist.