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Stopping music from slipping through the cracks
November 4, 2010 10:18 AM   Subscribe

I listen to a lot of music. I also just have a lot of music that I have laying around on my computer waiting to be listened to that never does. There's also a lot of music that I want to have that I never really get around to buying/downloading. How can I organize my listening to make sure all my music gets some love?

So specifically I'm looking for a software or tips on some kind of self-administered system that can have me list wanted music and document my new music.

On the "wanted music" end, I just want somewhere to store a link to a review or a website to buy from that I can go back to later and choose the stuff I want whenever I get the money. Does anybody have experience with Amazon's Universal Wishlist?

On the new music end, I want to be able to organize stuff as non-listened and then "mark them as listened", maybe with a way to take notes on them and give them ratings/give them little tags or something. When I actually do buy something on my wishlist, I want to be able to easily transfer it over to the "new music" list. For this reason Amazon Universal Wishlist probably wouldn't work.

It doesn't necessarily have to be a program specifically for this use. It could be some kind of note-taking program that would be easily adapted for this use. I actually think this is what I would prefer.

Right now I just have a text file on my computer where I list my new music that I haven't listened to, but it's not really a very great solution.

I primarily run Ubuntu, so it would have to be linux-compatible. I'd prefer it to be pretty lightweight and not be tied to a music player.

P.S. Don't just tell me I should just stop getting so much music or lecture me on the ethics of file sharing. I'm a music junkie. I won't stop.
posted by azarbayejani to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know what music player you use, and I imagine it's not iTunes. However, if your player can do smart playlists, make a smart playlist where the playcount is zero. Then just listen to that for a bit. You can rate/tag as you go I suppose, depending on the player you use.
posted by djgh at 10:22 AM on November 4, 2010


I don't use iTunes. I'm on Linux. Rhythmbox is okay for that single purpose, but once again, I would prefer for it not to be tied to a music player because I could choose to move to another player.
Also, there's lots of music on here which has a play count of zero, but I've listened to them before. It's not a very great solution. I just made a smart playlist like that, and it has a majority of my music.
posted by azarbayejani at 10:30 AM on November 4, 2010


I use del.icio.us for the 'wanted-music' end.
posted by box at 10:33 AM on November 4, 2010


I use iTunes because I'm too lazy not to, but as an oft-time pro-DJ, I actually hate most of the ways it tries to organize my music for me (genre, most played etc -- this stuff means next to nothing to me). My solution (for lack of a better word) is to run three different iTunes libraries on my box.

1. all incoming stuff goes here and stays here until I decide whether I want to keep it or not. I'm generally the only one who listens to this stuff. The stuff I do choose to keep goes to ...

2. this is sort of my active listening iTunes, a mixture of old and new stuff that satisfies my (and my audience's) current wants and needs.

3. ARCHIVE. this is all the stuff I've grown sort of tired of and decided to retire for the time being, but not forever. In fact, I'm constantly dipping in here and grabbing stuff to "re-add" to my current #2 list.

Yes, running three iTunes has its inherent clunkiness, but over time, I've found it's the only way to make sense of how I personally actually listen to and "use" music.
posted by philip-random at 10:51 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perhaps instead of a smart playlist with playcount zero, you could make one with the criteria of "added to library in the past X days" (where X is whatever is convenient for how often you add new music). I use something like that for tracking what I've added and need to listen to.

As for tracking what music to get, you can't beat plain text. I have a "musictoget" text file that (sadly) grows faster than it empties. I keep it in revision control (along with lots of other things in my homedir) so that at any point I can refer to what I've added/removed.

You might consider a wiki of some sort for tracking all of this, or maybe (since you're on linux) zim would work for you.


Ultimately, I think a useful logical separation here would be that it is the job of your music management software (whatever you chose to use) to manage what music is new and what is unlistened to, as well as (possibly) an associated rating, and it's the job of to track things you need to buy.
posted by namewithoutwords at 10:55 AM on November 4, 2010


Yep, like box I use delicious as well. If you currently use it, you can decide on a tag or set of tags that you will use to organize your musicy links. I'm thinking music+buy, music+try, music+listen and music+loved would work for me. (Delicious is also a great source for finding new music with their filetype indicators)

If MediaMonkey is Linux compatible, I'd suggest trying it. Yes it plays music but I only use it for organizing. What I do with new music is I put it in one folder until I have listened to it once. Then if I am going to keep it, I move it to another folder to either keep on my laptop or store on my external HD. MediaMonkey will allow you to move files around or you can just use whatever file explorer your system has. Any music player should allow to rescan your Music folders from time to time and add anything that's missing. That way you can see what has been added since the last time you scanned and after you've listened to it, you can tag it all at once.
posted by soelo at 10:59 AM on November 4, 2010


Check out MediaMonkey - I switched to that after MusicMatch Jukebox got bought by Yahoo and turned into a total shitburger. It has a ton of customizable library management and view features, and can include a ton of obscure fields in the sort ability, such as 'Date Added to Library' and 'playcount' and such. It can also load things onto your ipod (the ipod playlist management is pretty bleh tho), so usually when I rip a bunch of new albums to my library, I can then just look at full library, and sort to 'everything added today' and push that to the ipod.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:00 AM on November 4, 2010


Smart Playlists. iTunes has been invaluable to me in this regard. You can get a lot of milage out of putting some work into your collection (ratings, etc). I have multiple smart playlists to accommodate:
  1. zero-play songs;
  2. new acquisitions;
  3. stuff I've rated highly;
  4. stuff that hasn't been played in a while (i.e. a year or more);
  5. ... you get the picture
The playlists are subsets of my collection and I am able to designate how much of any one category I want to emphasize. Each time I sync, these categories are 'freshened up' with new content.

I dump the playlists onto the iPod and then have it randomly shuffle that content and it never fails to please and surprise me with it's mix of old and new, favorites and songs that suck too!
posted by mazola at 11:30 AM on November 4, 2010


You don't want it tied to a particular player, and you think some kind of 'note-taking' software would be best, but your text file is insufficient?

Why?

What would you like for the note-taking program to improve over the text file?

You could use some sort of ID3 tag organizer, maybe? A to-do list?

Honestly, I think your best (and easiest to implement) solution will be tied to a player, like it or not.
posted by toomuchpete at 11:44 AM on November 4, 2010


I've been trying to get in the habit of using the "notes" feature of my iphone to jot down interesting bands/albums/genres as they come up. If I'm in a record store, it's highly likely that I'll have my phone with me, and if I'm at home dicking around with torrents the same probably applies.

Also highly recommend a music management software that has smart playlists. Though I was hoping to find something more sophisticated. I have a smart playlist of music with no plays; it has over a thousand tracks and is intimidating just to look at. I also have a ratings systems I've integrated with smart playlists to highlight things that have higher or lower priorities. I still find that, if I download a new album, it can definitely get lost in the shuffle if I don't listen to it right away.

Maybe the solution is to stop torrenting and just listen to what I have until I'm done.
posted by Sara C. at 11:52 AM on November 4, 2010


toomuchpete:
My text file is not adequate because I want to be able to organize my music with tags and ratings and such. My "tolisten.txt" is just a list of albums. I want it to be a little more than that. This question is more of a question of "what kind of note-taking software would allow me to do this best" kind of thing.

And yes, it all kind of will work out like a to-do list in a sense. I just want to break tasks into categories and be able to take notes on them.

What I'm envisioning is having something:
- an "inbox" of stuff I haven't listened to.
- things i the "inbox" should be able to have notes attributed to them
- an "wanted box" of stuff that i still need to get.
- things in the "wanted box" should be able to move easily into the inbox.

Wait a second... maybe I could do this with Gmail labels.
posted by azarbayejani at 11:59 AM on November 4, 2010


Ugh that should say "music player". Music management software? WTF is that?
posted by Sara C. at 12:02 PM on November 4, 2010


My text file is not adequate because I want to be able to organize my music with tags and ratings and such.

I don't understand how you would do this, or why it would be meaningful at all, if you have not yet acquired the music. It seems to me that the best way to do this is to have a simple list of things you want to get, and then let your player handle the rest once you actually have the music in question.
posted by Sara C. at 12:09 PM on November 4, 2010


On the new music end, I want to be able to organize stuff as non-listened and then "mark them as listened", maybe with a way to take notes on them and give them ratings/give them little tags or something.

So you have a lot of downloaded music that is just sitting on your hard drive unlistened to right? Here is what I did in a similar situation:

1. Put all of your un-listened to albums in a folder called "NonListened" or something.
2. Make a big playlist out of everything in that folder, randomize the order, and play it when you are sitting at your computer doing other things.
3. When you find yourself liking a song, move that album to a new folder called "Good."
4. If a song is terrible, move the album to a folder called "Bad" or just delete it.
5. Either do the same thing with your Good folder and make a big playlist of those songs, or listen to albums one at a time.
6. Eventually some of the bands or artists from your Good folder will become your favorites and you can buy their albums, tshirts, tickets to shows, etc.

The main negative side of this strategy is that it only really works well if you do all of your listening at the computer and are able to see what song is playing and move them to the right folders and whatnot. But it's a lot less work than going through and taking notes, and you never really have to go through and re-read your notes to figure out what you liked because you'll have moved it to the liked folder already.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:34 PM on November 4, 2010


I think you can use Remember the Milk to organize your lists. Just set up different categories for your inboxes and apply tags judiciously.

Evernote might work also.
posted by dragonplayer at 12:39 PM on November 4, 2010


The main negative side of this strategy is that it only really works well if you do all of your listening at the computer and are able to see what song is playing and move them to the right folders and whatnot.

Don't know about other players, but iTunes can handle all of this for you through smart playlists and ratings, and it will synch with your mp3 player. Though I find it a pain in the ass to rate music on my mp3 player since I'm usually walking around or doing other stuff and not paying attention to what's playing unless my feelings about a song are extreme.
posted by Sara C. at 12:53 PM on November 4, 2010


Don't know about other players, but iTunes can handle all of this for you through smart playlists and ratings, and it will synch with your mp3 player. Though I find it a pain in the ass to rate music on my mp3 player since I'm usually walking around or doing other stuff and not paying attention to what's playing unless my feelings about a song are extreme.

Some other negative aspects to doing it this way are that all of your unvetted music ends up getting listed with all of the music you already know you like (rather than being quarantined in a completely separate playlist), and that when you rate a single song it's not easy to apply that rating to an entire album or artist (because if you like one song from a given album or artist you probably want to listen to more of it, rather than just that song again). In my opinion ratings and smart playlists work better with music you already know (so that for example the stupid skit tracks don't play in your party mix) rather than brand new music that you aren't sure if you like yet.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:29 PM on November 4, 2010


all of your unvetted music ends up getting listed with all of the music you already know you like (rather than being quarantined in a completely separate playlist)

You can simply make separate smart playlists for "vetted" and "non-vetted" music. Make a smart playlist with a condition of "no plays" or "no plays in the last X time period before you started vetting/since X date" - there's your "non-vetted" playlist. Then make another playlist with a condition of "not in playlist "non-vetted" - there's your "vetted" playlist.

when you rate a single song it's not easy to apply that rating to an entire album or artist (because if you like one song from a given album or artist you probably want to listen to more of it, rather than just that song again).

This is what Cmd+I (or Ctr+I on a PC) is for. It brings up a menu that allows you to batch edit chosen tracks - simply bring up all songs on a certain album or by a certain artist, bring up the batch edit menu, and give them all the same rating. This is another reason it's not very efficient to vet music on an mp3 player, but considering your average album is only like 10-15 tracks, there's no reason you couldn't just go in and rate each song the same if you were desperate to do it on your iPod or whatever.

I hate that I love iTunes, but it's actually quite good for this sort of thing. One of these days I'll even figure out how to optimize the genre setting, and then maybe that will fix my problem of having 40 gb of music I've never listened to.
posted by Sara C. at 2:44 PM on November 4, 2010


One thing that I do that helps me manage my ever-growing collection is make a new playlist for new songs added each month, with the name YY.MM (i.e., 10.01, 10.02, 10.03...) to keep them in chronological order. (I'm sure I could set this up with smart playlists, but I just do it manually.) Generally I just scroll through the past couple of months and glance at the play count and play whatever hasn't been listened to, or only listened to once. I tend to acquire/listen to whole albums at a time, so this might not work as well for individual tracks.

I also like this system because I've been doing it consistently for four years and I think it's neat to look at how my library has grown or my tastes have changed month by month.
posted by cosmic osmo at 5:09 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


cosmic osmo has a great tip there, chronological playlists. I used to do yearly ones and they got too big, so I've started monthly ones now. Great for finding old stuff that is new again.

Your wanted box and your inbox are made up of two different things (one a bunch of .mp3/4s and the other links or text strings) so it will be very hard to make movement from one to the other automatic. If you are like me, your wanted list could be a single track, a whole album or an entire artist's collection. So, I wouldn't trust any software to manage it. I imagine getting one song and the software removing the whole artist from the list. Also, a new mp3 may not be optimally named for the program to be able to understand what it is. So, my suggestion there is to continue to manage your wanted list yourself, in gmail, text or whatever and simply delete items as you obtain them.

For the new stuff, I understand you don't want to be tied to a music player, but that is the beauty of ID3 tags, that they work in most players. I go back and forth between iTunes and Media Monkey and changes I make in one show up in the other. It's great. So, how do you use that manage your new music? Put all of your music in a player, then find a field you don't use or don't care about (the Comments field works for me). Remove any data in that field, then change the value of that field to NEW for every track with a playcount of zero. You said some of the zero values aren't accurate, so if you can find some logic to clear some of those out, do that too. Keep at it and soon you will be able to shuffle the new tracks and retag them at will. For a long time the Tempo field in MusicMatch told me if a particular song had lyrics in the tag or not because "Fast"=Yes and blank=No.
posted by soelo at 2:16 PM on November 5, 2010


Lifehacker just posted an article about this. Surely, the writer saw this question.
posted by azarbayejani at 2:41 PM on November 17, 2010


I've spent a lot of time over the last year or so organizing and streamlining my digital music, often with the help of Lifehacker posts. And I have no idea what the post you linked to has to do with your original question. That post seems to be about cordoning off music you DON'T want to listen to. Your question asked about how to have everything - including lists/text/concepts that are not actually playable music files - in one place.

To repeat myself, if all you want to do is create a playlist of music you haven't listened to, all you need to do is make a smart playlist wherein one of the properties is "no plays" or "no plays since x date/within x time period". You don't need a new kind of software, multiple libraries, manually ticking things off lists, etc.

In other words, you really only need to do your linked article's Option 2. You're making a simple task unbelievably complicated.
posted by Sara C. at 3:34 PM on November 17, 2010


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