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.