Episode #85 – How Much Music Is Too Much?

By Kirk on December 29, 2017

As we amass music in our physical or digital libraries, it can reach a point where it doesn’t make sense to keep adding more music. How much really is too much?

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  • Thanks for the update on AirPods. I just discovered something I didn’t know – iTunes apparently automatically refreshes smart playlists at midnight. I have a playlist that shows unrated songs, and the other night I had it open and was rating songs occasionally. At one point I stepped back to my computer and found that all the recently rated songs had disappeared, replaced by unrated ones. I looked at the clock – it was a couple of minutes past midnight. This is 12.7.2. I’ve not done extensive testing, so perhaps something else happened, but this is my theory.
    Thanks for the very informative podcast, and best wishes to you both for the new year.

  • Small correction in my Next Track pick in this episode: Funky Town was originally recorded by Lipps, Inc and not Chic. I always have Nile Rodgers on the brain.

  • Mega-thanks to Kirk and Doug for making this one of a kind podcast. Your work is greatly appreciated. I look forward to listening to each new episode. Happy New Year! – Tian

  • We acquire more, and listen less, or at least listen carefully. We become restless, and spend little time with an interpretation that initially doesn’t interest us, but over time, might. The best thing that could happen to my collection is that it would disappear, all but 100 albums. Moreover, time will take care of it, as it manages everything else. I’m now in my 60s, and realize that I will never listen to most of the music I have. I’m running out of time, and with that, I’m running out of the endless compulsion to collect.

    • I totally agree. What used to be a relatively simple process, choosing what music I wish to listen to, is now a major stress initiator. I actively listen to classical music 2 – 3 hours each night and between Tidal favorites, my digital collection and my LP’s, I could never in my lifetime listen to it all.

      • re: stress initiator
        I think that’s the digital interface. Every time I launch iTunes I see those first few albums. Each time, same ones. Ugh.

        It’s like walking up to a record collection but only allowed to look at the first 5 titles on the far left of the shelf before moving on. I’d burn those 5 virtual LPs if I could.

  • I guess I’m a lightweight. I only have 28,350 tracks (78.7 days) in my main library and 6300 (18.1 days) in my classical library. I still have a lot of classical CDs I haven’t ripped, though. I do those in spurts. Currently, I’m somewhere in the middle of ripping the 60 discs in my Brahms box set. It’s slow going because I scan every sleeve (even though they’re almost all the same–it’s a problem I have) and go through all the steps to make the tracks work/movement instead of song title.

    Speaking of hoarding, I just finished buying (I think) all of the King Crimson 40th anniversary box sets. The “Starless” and “The Road To Red” boxes have a lot of live concerts from 1973/74 when it was Fripp, John Wetton, Bill Bruford, and David Cross. What a great live band they were. Do I _really_ need 25 versions of Exiles? Probably not, but it’s fun to listen to these. And, like Doug said, I know I have them.

  • Best show yet — collecting and culling lies at the heart of music curation and listening. Several years ago I read Steven Levy’s “The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness.” If you’ve never read it, you learn the iPod’s history and how yes, it’s changed the way we listen to music.

    There’s at least one chapter or part dedicated to listening randomly, learning how to love Shuffle Play or some such. I remain an album-listening person, but concede that listening to a playlist randomly MIGHT work under certain scenarios. I do not necessarily “like” everything in my library (25K songs) but will typically only delete entire albums, and that’s exceedingly rare. I could make a “mixtape” playlist and have done so, but left to randomness, song selection is madness. It’s horrible for me.

    Randomness/pseudo randomness is obviously digital’s “killer app” but I can’t yet buy into it, which lies at the heart of why after all these years I struggle to really enjoy digital music playback. Looking for, and playing a single album is actually not anywhere as easy as doing it with LPs. Makes no sense, but there it is.

    Like Doug says, I want access to interesting things but there’s something more: I want to be reminded I HAVE it. If I never listen to many or most of the albums again, I’d still like to “remember that I like them” by SEEING them, as if on the shelf … and if they were gone and living in some subscription service I’d forget about many of them.

    You both spoke about integrating (or not) a subscription service with the local library. That would seem natural to me, because I’d want to access and use both equally, right? So long as I wasn’t constantly shown all the cruft I’d never want to even know about, however. If I own 2 albums by an artist and hate their other albums, I’d not want to see those disliked ones in the interface. Seeing it implies I like it, especially if it’s in my interface. Is there a way to do something like that?

    I think that lies at the heart of the local vs cloud library conundrum: to make best use of a subscription you have to find a way for it to not show you what you don’t want to see, just as much as it should dilly something you either do like or “might” like. And so the genome thing etc. This aspect was discussed in the Apple Music episode the same applies to any larger local library, for culling decisions.

    Roon and Tidal integrate well (so I’m told) for a higher-end database solution. No other subscription service is willing to hand over control to another UI.

    re: cheese of the month
    I still have my LP of Beverly Hills Cop II, because I forgot to send it back to Columbia in time. I’m not aware of any I intentionally kept/bought. Talk about collecting: I keep it to remind me of that year when I had a Columbia House subscription!