Nowadays I seem get most of my new music from Radio 6. I hardly buy any music, but just stream music from the radio or listen to radio plays.
When I was living in the US I sometimes purchased a lot of cassettes via mail order. I got a lot of cassettes from a label called Shrimper which was run by Dennis Callaci. At that time I was reading a lot of fanzines as well and I guess that was the way I got into it. Most of the music on Shrimper seemed lo-fi and all of the bands were interesting.
Dennis used to write short notes when he sent me the cassettes, so we had some kind of written conversations.
There were great bands on Shrimper, such as Simon Joyner and the Mountain Goats. My all time favorite was Paste. This was one guy with a guitar intensely playing. I can still hear in my mind one
song about "greasy hair". Dennis Callaci was the man in paste, but he moved on into other bands
on his label.
Before the Internet it was a big struggle to find some album that you wanted. I spent many years trying to find a Swans album. Now it is a lot easier to track a tune down, usually via Youtube. However I don't see too much from Shrimper. My impression was that Dennis would not have liked the convenience of the Internet from music. I do see that there was a gig for the 20 year anniversary of the creation of the Shrimper label posted on Youtube, so they must be still going.
Unfortunately I got rid of a lot of my tapes when I moved to Germany. Stupid me.
There are a few web sites with more information about Shrimper Records, such as this one. There is a small amount of information about Shrimper on the wikipedia site. This page has a proper history of the label.
I just downloaded from Amazon a MP3 ssampler of the Shrimper stuff.
So here is some Refrigerator, one of Denni's bands to get some idea of the Shrimper label/