When it comes to music, I have a System.
Stage 1 is Acquisition. My ability to discover new music is very limited, as I did not have much of a commute even pre-pandemic for radio, and I typically listen to NPR besides. Therefore, I pretty much only hear snippets of songs from random Youtube clips, memes, or Indie-Rock playlists. Once I do hear something I like, I immediately try to locate the entire discography of the group “just in case” there are other songs I may enjoy. The amount of times this has worked out for me is small in the aggregate, but when it has worked out, I ended up finding some of my favorite songs of all time, so it’s worth it.
Stage 2 is Sifting. I have a dynamic playlist called Unrated that will display every song in my library that does not have a 1-5 Star rating. Once a rating is decided, it drops from the playlist and I continue down the list until my queue is empty. Roughly speaking, ratings mean:
- 1 Star – To be deleted
- 2 Star – Song is “useful” for some other purpose (e.g. memes, D&D, comedy clips)
- 3 Star – Baseline level of good, would enjoy this randomly being played
- 4 Star – Very good song, catchy, meaningful
- 5 Star – Devasting emotional payload
To give an idea about distribution, I have 3270 songs in the 3-Star category (80%), 721 in 4-Star (18%), and just 100 in 5-Star (2%).
Stage 3 is Assignment. Once everything has a Star rating, it goes into my Group Work dynamic playlist. It is here that I assign it a “Grouping” category. I base these off of colors that correspond to mood:
- Clear – no particular mood
- Blue – melancholy, pathos
- Green – mellow, unobtrusive
- Red – songs that make you drive faster on the freeway
- Yellow – Up-tempo, driving beats
- Rose – relationship songs
Once this last piece of metadata is complete, songs that have survived the gauntlet are automatically sorted into dynamic playlists. If I want to chill and do some work? Open the Green playlist and hit Random. Roadtrip? Load up Red and press Play. Want to just feel sad for a while? Blue. This has worked out much better for me than traditional playlists, as sometimes I forgot to add new songs to old playlists. Plus, some songs fit into multiple moods, which I can handle by giving them multiple Grouping labels (“Green, Blue”).
To be honest, I have no idea if this is convoluted or not. My default assumption is… Yes. But I haven’t really heard how other people tackle this sort of thing. Surely everyone has playlists of some kind, yeah? Do people just use Spotify these days? What is your System? Partially because I’m curious, and partially so I can determine what improvements (if any) can be assimilated into my own.
Addendum: Program-wise, I am using MusicBee as the player on PC, and Rocket Player on my phone. I used to use iTunes on PC and synced things easily with Rocket Player, but at some point that method failed and I could never figure out why. So these days I just bulk copy/replace files on the phone periodically.
Acquisition-wise, TPB used to be good enough, but these days I just rip from Youtube.
Posted on May 16, 2022, in Commentary and tagged Convoluted, First World Pirate Problems, I Have a System, Music, MusicBee, Playlist. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.
I don’t use any kind of playlist. I prefer either to listen to whole albums so every song is heard in context or not to have any idea what’s coming next. I used to like to use the Shuffle function on iPod Touch, but these days for randomness I generally let YouTube play whatever recommendations it brings up until I hit a streak I don’t like, then i do a new search and try again.
As for finding new music, I have Pitchfork, NME, Stereogum and several music bloggers in Feedly, which gives me literally dozens of new ideas every day. I sometimes listen to BBC Radio 6 and I often play games with YouTube, following recommendations and feeding in keywords to see what surfaces. I’ve found some of my all-time favorite artists and songs that way.
If you’re stuck for ideas, try the Music tag on my blog. That’s a deep rabbit hole by now.
Heh, I do periodically hit up your YouTube links, along with Syp’s. Unfortunately, aside from our appreciation of Lana Del Ray, our tastes appear to differ quite a bit.
I hadn’t thought of music bloggers before.
Pandora via the iPhone in the car, whatever the latest ‘station’ that the kids are enjoying at the moment (luckily we have mostly retired Disney and are now heavy on the League of Legends channel, where the Arcane soundtrack gets a lot of play).
I used to hate Disney soundtracks – and musicals in general – but I have been coming around. Probably entirely due to Lin-Manuel Miranda, if I’m honest. Moana had some bangers.
Moana, both Frozens, Encanto, Turning Red, etc. All very decent.