How do you listen to music?
September 14, 2017 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Ever since Spotify and Google Play became the way to listen to music, I have stopped listening to music because it feels like too much work (aka I don't understand the new way of picking songs and I don't want to spend my whole dinner party scrolling through my phone). Can you help me figure out how to put on some good music without a lot of fuss? I used to listen to music all the time and now it seems too hard. Because I am old? or because it is just complicated now? help!

For the last several years I have accidentally stopped listening to music because it is too hard to figure out how to do it right. I used to listen to it all the time - first I played cds on my computer, then I used my iTunes playlist of all the cds I burned onto my computer, now - nothing.

I have Google Play, I have an iPhone, I have the ability to plug that iPhone into good speakers both in the car and at home. But when it comes to putting on good music, it used to feel simple - go scroll through my music, get a record or cd, play it. But now it feels like I have to think of the specific song I want, then play it, then think of the next one. Too much work, also way too much time spent scrolling on my iphone. Is this the case? How do I get good playlists? How do I find the music I want to listen to without constantly referring back to my phone to search for the specific song I want? I feel like things got complicated technologically and I have fallen behind.

Next question, which I feel is related - how do I take my music listening abilities into my car without using up all my data? Do people just not use Google play in the car, and instead use some songs they have on their phone? Are people using cds still in the car?

Thank you, I feel like Rip Van Winkle or something.
posted by andreapandrea to Technology (37 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
I feel the same way. I only listen to the radio now. I find itunes enraging and the level of choice that came with the Sonos app and the delightful Sonons speaker I got as a gift is just too big for me.

How about just getting an old CD player? CDs are cheap and abundant at thrift stores.
posted by latkes at 10:03 AM on September 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

I only listen to music on my desktop, so I can't help with the scrolling bit. However, I believe you can take your Spotify or Google Play Music offline, avoiding using up your data. You can also make playlists on your desktop computer (which seems easier to me) and I believe those will be accessible on your mobile device.

FWIW, I tend to listen by album and sort by my most recent albums, which is sort of equivalent of having a pile of CDs. However, if you prefer to listen by song and you want a particular song, I could see that becoming frustrating.
posted by cnc at 10:04 AM on September 14, 2017

I am not the norm, but I'm at least proof that your old habits are still a perfectly valid way of approaching this task. I still buy CDs and rip them to my computer. Sometimes I buy digital albums. I listen to music through iTunes playlists, and transfer selected playlists and songs that I've bestowed with high star ratings to my phone. I don't use streaming media much at all.

Streaming media is probably a nice way for some people to discover new music. But if you are most concerned about listening to music that you already know is good ("How do I find the music I want to listen to without constantly referring back to my phone to search for the specific song I want?"), it's not necessary.
posted by AndrewInDC at 10:05 AM on September 14, 2017 [10 favorites]

Best answer: To answer your first question, I think you want playlists. It sounds like you're typically playing full albums at once, so you would search either a specific album you're interested, or if you're not sure you could search an artist name and see which of their albums are available (this is how it works on Spotify, it might be slightly different on google play but I assume the same features are available). Then click play at the top of the album to play it through. The benefit to playlists as well is opening up new music to you (versus what you had on your CDs) - if you're in the mood for 90s alt rock, you can find a 90s alt rock playlist and let it play without having to select particular artists or songs. Of course, you won't agree with every playlist's selections; you can always create your own custom ones if you want, or find different 90s alt rock playlists you like. Repeat for dance party playlists, sleepy time playlists, oldies playlists, modern country playlists, etc, etc.

For your second question, it looks like if you subscribe to google play you get offline listening as a feature - I can't tell if you have paid for a subscription. If so, you could select as many of your favorite playlists or albums as you want and download them to your phone (assuming you have space), and then you can play them from there without using the internet while you're in the car. I personally just stream from spotify while I drive because I have unlimited data, and I'm guessing a lot of people do that as well (especially since some unlimited data plans these days don't count any music streaming against your total usage - you might double check whether that is the case for you). I also listen to the radio pretty often - that's still around if you don't mind jumping between stations during commercials :)
posted by jouir at 10:06 AM on September 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

I listen to Radio Paradise at home almost exclusively now. Almost every song they play is a good song, half of what they play is new to me, and on the rare occasion they play something like Led Zeppelin it's some obscure deep cut that I've never heard before.
posted by bondcliff at 10:07 AM on September 14, 2017 [11 favorites]

From any song/artist/album in Google Play you can "Start Radio" which will just keep streaming related tracks. This is what I do when I don't want to pick an album. There's also a "Browse Stations" tab which gives you another way in to playlist-generation.

For your other question, you can have Google Play download songs when you're on wifi and then switch to "Downloaded Only" mode, which will only show you songs you've cached. (I don't know how well that plays with radio stations though).
posted by mustardayonnaise at 10:08 AM on September 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

for me, it's all been about making my own playlists for different contexts (dinner party, cooking at home, work/focus, driving/errands, driving/long distance) and then just hitting shuffle on them as needed. Basically, I treat 'playlists' the same way that I treat albums and multi-disc CD changers that I would have in my car (because for certain playlists, that's also how I assemble them. instead of painstakingly handcurating each song that goes into a playlist, I just pick whole albums in my collection and just add the whole thing to the "driving/long distance/techno" playlist.

it was a bit of work upfront, but it made things easier for when I would be deciding to play something at home.

the other thing I found for just getting music going around the house is buying cheap Chromecast Audio adapters to plug into various desktop or bluetooth speakers that I already owned. So instead of having to dish out a bunch of cash for a Sonos or angst over getting airplay specific sound systems, I could just use the equipment that I already had and play audio to them through Google Cast.
posted by bl1nk at 10:10 AM on September 14, 2017

Personally.... every couple of days clear the playlist on the Squeezeserver and pick a couple dozen artists/albums we haven't heard in a while and let it shuffle.

I refused to touch iTunes after seeing too many friends lose their *purchased* music when upgrading or whatever. Just because the new flashy money grab is what all the kids are using doesn't mean you have to. Your local CD store will be happy for the patronage (shout out to Highlife Records on Commercial!). And/or your local library.
posted by cfraenkel at 10:11 AM on September 14, 2017

I have all my CDs ripped to MP3, and stored locally on my hard drive, and backed up to both Google Music and Spider Oak. When I listen to music I mostly play entire albums start to finish from my personal collection, so that hasn't changed since the 80s. I have a subset of my music downloaded to my phone, and I have 6 or 8 CDs full of MP3s in the car. The CDs are the music source for short local trips, if I'm going to be driving for a while I'll usually queue up podcasts or play music off the phone.

For "radio" when I just want music with no hassle I use Pandora.

T-Mobile exempts the major streaming services from counting against your data caps. It's a direct violation of the concept of net neutrality, but it is a nice benefit when you want to use streaming.
posted by COD at 10:12 AM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have been fortunate to have friends with good taste who make playlists on Spotify. That has been awesome.

Thirding radio. I listen to KUTX in Austin and KCRW in So Cal.

Also (and this may be Lame and Old) but some TV I like has some great soundtracks. I just binged on One Mississippi on Amazon and am finding those playlists online today.
posted by pantarei70 at 10:12 AM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Streaming is just another way to listen to music. The old ways did not disappear. Put your music back on your phone and then you won't have to use all of your data. I don't use any streaming music - I put mp3s on my phone and shuffle a whole Genre or Artist. You can add songs to playlists from your phone one at a time or you can create smart playlists in iTunes. I use MediaMonkey which has some of the same features, but others are limited unless you upgrade.
posted by soelo at 10:20 AM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't know how this works in Google Play, but in Spotify you can search by album if you want to listen to a specific record, or make a playlist of individual songs, or access playlist that other people have built (often by artist/genre/theme). So if you like, say, Motown, you can search for someone else's curated list of songs and listen to it instead of building your own.

You can also save albums you know you like as playlists for easy access. You can queue songs or albums to play consecutively if you know you want to play a few things in a row but you don't want to build a permanent playlist. I think you can also save songs/albums to your account, so if you click Your Music or whatever it only shows you the stuff you've already saved and chosen rather than everything that is on Spotify.

I listen to Spotify from my phone in the car and get around the data issue by downloading albums or playlists in advance - Spotify lets you save stuff to local storage so you can play it offline (although not in a format that you could copy or open with another program afaik). I only ever play stuff I have downloaded when I'm driving to avoid using too much data, but even when I have downloaded or streamed over mobile data rather than wifi I haven't noticed it being a huge data drain.
posted by terretu at 10:29 AM on September 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hello!

I think about this a lot. The "work" that goes into listening to music. Wouldn't it be great if you could just play good music with one or two seconds of work? Like turning on the radio?

I have a few tips. Really, in all, I think that the latest innovations has made it easier, but there is a lot of ways it made it more complex as well. You need to simplify everything for yourself. I recommend the following:

Amazon Echo Dot with connected Spotify Premium Account.

Echo dot: Nothing beats saying "Play my music" and your music starts playing. It takes seconds, and it is loud in your house, over your speakers, without having to worry about or touch your phone.

Spotify Premium - yes, there are individual songs, but the magic of spotify is curated playlists. Unlike itunes, spotify is primarily based on curated playlists- playlists made by either spotify or other users. I have a few playlists queued up at any given time, and they always respond to my echo dot requests. I greatly like spotifies "Today's top hits", "Funk outta Here", etc.

Once you find a few playlists you like, and you can queue them up, it's great. You can also say things like "Play metallica black album on spotify" and it will just play. All the features you want, minimal fidgeting.
posted by bbqturtle at 10:30 AM on September 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

15 years ago I was working on media players and one thing I learned there's a million dumb idiosyncratic ways that people listen to music. The answer to "Are people doing X?" is basically always "yeah, someone is doing that are".

So a lot of people yeah are streaming stuff, letting Spotify or Pandora or whatever essentially be the DJ. You say "hey play stuff similar to X" and then it's basically like listening to the radio.

I guarantee there still are lots of people just listening to CDs in the car though. If that's the most convenient for you, there's nothing wrong with that!

I've got everything on mp3, and mostly I listen by album. Sometimes I'll just have my player album-shuffle (meaning it picks a random album, plays the whole thing, and then picks another, etc). Sometimes, I won't be in the mood for its choice, and I'll have to reshuffle a few times to get something that suits the moment, but whatever. Other times I'll just manually queue stuff up, usually again, a whole album at a time.

How do I find the music I want to listen to without constantly referring back to my phone to search for the specific song I want?

I'm not usually a huge fan of voice controls but IMO this is a case where they're pretty good. If you know what you want, and it's on the phone, unless it's something with too many dumb typographical affectations, I can usually just say verbally "Play Moon Safari" or whatever.
posted by aubilenon at 10:32 AM on September 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

We keep all our music (and there is a lot of it) ripped onto a central home media server, but for myself I just download maybe my 40 favorite albums to my phone. My husband tends to use direct streaming straight from the server and it does take him an annoyingly long time to pick music when we're about to sit down to dinner (he will often hand the phone to me in exasperation at his inability to choose and I just poke blindly and we're off). I just go with my locally stored Old Standbys and I am perfectly content. If I want to switch them up, I just delete what I'm sick of and download a couple different albums to replace them.

At work I use Pandora, because I don't care that much about exactly what I"m listening to, I just want some noise. I have a few stations based off of music that suits different needs I have during the day (i.e. one for being very productive--it's all Phillip Glass, movie soundtracks and Qawwali because I can't deal with hearing lyrics in English when I'm trying to concentrate on something else).
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:42 AM on September 14, 2017

At work I mostly listen to radio (hey KALX, you know I love you!) or Spotify. Sometimes I listen to my own MP3s from my home server, but that's rare.

Sometimes with Spotify I will listen to a playlist - I have curated a bunch over the years - or a specific song, but usually I just go through albums. Is it because I'm old? Is it because I hate algorithm radio? Probably. I poke around albums that I have been meaning to check out or really love. To find new music I do check out the Spotify recommendations related to my tastes, but mostly I use college radio for that.

In the car - to save data and to not worry about connections - I usually listen to the radio or stuff from my home server or Spotify that I downloaded to my phone ahead of time. I keep a playlist of personal hits sync'd with my phone just for that.
posted by kendrak at 10:59 AM on September 14, 2017

Best answer: I don't use Google Play, just the regular iPhone music app with music I've bought, but I share a library with a bunch of people who don't have the same tastes as me. My solution to this problem was to go through and specifically download to my phone the songs I liked. Yes, this takes up space, but 3.2 GB gives me about 400 songs which I've found is really all I need. When I play my music, I specifically only ever play from the "downloaded music" tab. That way I get only music I like when I hit shuffle. It also makes scrolling through artists less tedious.

It looks like Google Play has this option as well. You can download songs (both purchased songs and subscription songs) for offline listening, and then play only the downloaded songs. I would suggest taking the time to download a bunch of music you like, and then whenever you just want music, not necessarily something in specific, go to downloaded music and hit shuffle. Also solves your listening in the car problem.

You can take this further and create playlists for specific moods/settings, which I have done, but sometimes I just want to put music on. Playing only from "downloaded songs" works really well for me.
posted by brook horse at 11:03 AM on September 14, 2017

Do people just not use Google play in the car, and instead use some songs they have on their phone? Are people using cds still in the car?

I strongly prefer to listen to music that I know really well and specifically like to drive to, so I just have a 16 GB USB stick filled with those songs that lives in my car's stereo and is what I listen to 95% of the time while driving. On occasion when I want to listen to something different, I'll save music to my phone and play it back via a 3.5mm cable or Bluetooth.

I use Google Play at home/work to stream new music to explore and then buy what I like via an online service or on physical media. Actually purchasing it allows me to listen offline and provides far better income to the artist than streaming does.

I also have subscriptions to magazines like Mojo and Uncut that come with a curated CD of music each month. It's hit and miss whether I'll like each given month's CD but often they're well put together mixes that both introduce me to new music and give me something I can drop in and listen to when I'm being indecisive.
posted by Candleman at 11:08 AM on September 14, 2017

Best answer: I've had to face a similar problem a few times: from LPs to cassettes to CDs to mp3s, and now to streaming, and here's my suggestion.

1. Get Spotify Premium, and then do a few of these things:
2. Follow playlist from other people. Here are some of mine: 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s.
3. Click: Radio -> Create New Station. Select an artist you like and let Spotify do the rest.
4. Search for an artist you like, and select Go To Artist Radio.
5. Search for an album you like, and just play it through.
6. Use it a lot, and skip songs you don't like, so Spotify will have enough data to generate automatic lists, which are consistently very good.

Download your favourite lists to your phone, so you won't run through your data plan.

Second bondcliff: Radio Paradise is fantastic.
posted by Cobalt at 11:44 AM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Here is what I have been doing for the past year or so:

1. Download Soundhound app.
2. Connect Soundhound to your Spotify account.
3. Go about your life. Hear a song you love in a bar/car radio station/restaurant/DJ night/whatever.
4. Open Soundhound and make it identify the song. If configured properly, it will also add the song to a Spotify playlist, if possible.
5. Repeat steps 3-5 often.

Eventually, you end up with a playlist comprised entirely of either songs you already know and love or songs you didn't know before, but heard somewhere and liked.

This is not a direct solution to your problem, and it'll definitely take awhile to build up a playlist if you rely on serendipity alone to populate it, but damn if my one Soundhound/Spotify playlist isn't solid gold right now. It's nice to have a "sure thing" playlist handy.
posted by helloimjennsco at 11:44 AM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I still listen to lots of music, but I don't use any streaming services because (a) quality and (b) I like owning my own music. There's also the issue that the streaming companies pay artists almost nothing, which makes me uncomfortable.

I listen at home, in my office and in my living room, using a Sonos system. My 30+ year accumulation of music is digitized and lives on an outboard drive attached to my last laptop, which shares it to the Sonos head unit.

I can easily control Sonos in either room from my phone, my iPad, or my laptop. I actually have an older iPad set up for "guest duty" so that they can add songs to the queue, too.

Sonos' queue system is GREAT. You just start a playlist, and keep adding to it dynamically over time. You can re-arrange songs on it, or change where you are in it, or delete it and start over.

For mobile music, I sync to my iPhone and use that.

The corner case in the living room is vinyl, which we started buying (locally) a few years ago -- it doesn't sound better, but it IS more fun, and new releases come with digital downloads too so they can be used via Sonos or on my iPhone, too.

This all seems easy to me.
posted by uberchet at 11:53 AM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I take so much joy in music. I haven't changed my habits in forever.

I buy used CDs when I can, but if it's a new album I want, I'll buy it new, on a CD. I play it in a CD player, I carry them in my bag and in my car. I love the materiality of them. I listen to them from beginning to end over and over until I'm sick of them, and then I store them on my shelf until I want to listen again.

Every few years I cull the collection and bring the CDs to the used CD store for exchange for credit.

I also listen to vinyl, some old, some gifted new.

I *do* take the time to upload my CDs onto itunes and I have (almost) all my music on one ipod. I take my ipod travelling with me on planes or at work, etc.,--places where I don't have a CD player.

Right now I have Jay Z in the car, Little Yachty in my Laptop, Jazmine Sullivan on the stereo at home and my ipod (for mobility) in my purse.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 11:56 AM on September 14, 2017

I still buy CDs most of the time because they generally cost about the same as digital files, then I rip them in a high quality format, and the CDs function as physical backups. I have them on my home media server, plus a dedicated MP3 player for an ever changing portable subset of that, and then I sometimes listen to internet radio or even regular radio sometimes for new music.

I am old enough that there are albums that I've bought in up to four different formats (there's potential for five, but I don't think I've hit a quintfecta on anything), so I'm not fucking around with buying DRM protected anything.

I don't have any interest in social media or recommendation engines for that sort of thing, so I don't know about any of that.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:11 PM on September 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am old enough that there are albums that I've bought in up to four different formats (there's potential for five, but I don't think I've hit a quintfecta on anything), so I'm not fucking around with buying DRM protected anything.
Wow, how do you get to four or five?

I bought tapes in the 80s, and had to re-buy CDs for some of those things in the late 1980s, but I've never had to re-buy anything since then because CDs can easily be ripped to digital, and then you're done.

Also, I'm not sure anyone sells music that has DRM on it anymore. Streaming services are obviously DRM'd, but you're not buying music then. You're just buying access. Apple and Amazon sell totally unencumbered, non-DRM files if you buy music from them.
posted by uberchet at 12:25 PM on September 14, 2017

I am so glad that someone asked this question! I do not really have a problem finding a simple way to listen to my music: I have all of my cd's and lp's ripped to digital (doing the LP's was a TON of work, omg!) and they live on a networked Drobo at home. I stream via itunes and apple_tv when I want to listen to music at home. I load whatever I want to have with me to my phone.

But I just don't understand the benefit of streaming services. I like owning my music - part of the satisfaction I take in my music collection is actively finding what I want to own. I don't want to derail this question any further, but I just don't get why millions of people are lining up to pay for radio. It's already free...
posted by bluejayway at 12:54 PM on September 14, 2017

My answer is likely anachronistic compared, but no one else has mentioned it, so what the hell:

I use YouTube Red. I choose all the individual songs and full albums I really love, and put them in playlists that can be used offline as well. It runs somewhere around $10/mo, which is worth it to have no ads play. I am my own special brand of weirdo though, so YMMV, but I am deeply happy with the ease of it all. :D
posted by Amor Bellator at 12:56 PM on September 14, 2017

There are a lot of better solutions, but since we're talking about minimizing work, I'll explain the imperfect but very simple way that I listen to music about 60% of the time these days. I simply queue up the music video for asong I like on YouTube, hit play, click the AutoPlay box, and then walk away.

YouTube is smart enough that it almost never transitions from a music video to a non-music video (like this maybe happens once every 12 hours or so). And its algorithm seems to naturally provide a nice balance between playing more music by the artist you like and wandering to other similar artists. It exposes you to new music, which is nice, though after an hour or so it can wander pretty far (like from pop to metal), so you may need to take the reigns with a new choice every now and then, depending on how eclectic your tastes are.

Many of the solutions above are better and give you more control, but there isn't really a solution that takes less work. And it's totally good enough for me most of the time.
posted by 256 at 1:16 PM on September 14, 2017

I use youtube to find the music I want to listen to. Then I download the audio (mp3) and use You tube by click (ytbyclick) to convert to mp3 and then put into a folder, etc.
Then just move the music on to a usb stick and then plug it into the usb port in the car and listen away. I have hundreds of tunes on one stick.
I never listen to music on the are radio anymore. No commercials.
posted by JayRwv at 2:39 PM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Amazon Echo Dot with connected Spotify Premium Account.

Echo dot: Nothing beats saying "Play my music" and your music starts playing. It takes seconds, and it is loud in your house, over your speakers, without having to worry about or touch your phone.

This is what I do, but with Amazon Music Unlimited, which is $3.99/month if you only use it with an Echo device. If you have Prime, you can get the service on all your devices for $7.99/month. The phone app is kind of lame, but you can download whatever albums you want for offline play. I'm actually listening to way more music now, because basically every album is on there.
posted by Huck500 at 4:38 PM on September 14, 2017

Best answer: I go either to the front page of the Google play app and click on one of their suggested playlists (eg right now it says "upbeat Friday morning", " taking it easy ", " working from home " etc), or I say something like, "OK Google, play the Beatles" and it will generate a best-of mix for whatever artist.

These options use data though. If you find a playlist you like, you can click the download button when on wifi and it will become available offline too, from the "my library" menu item.
posted by lollusc at 6:04 PM on September 14, 2017

Best answer: Also for any mix it gives you, you can click through to the actual queue once it starts and rearrange or remove tracks you don't like. It's still much quicker them making a playlist from scratch.

Also if you use the search function, there are playlists for every occasion, from parties, through to falling asleep, through to board game nights....
posted by lollusc at 6:07 PM on September 14, 2017

I admit to not reading every reply above, because I doubt anyone is doing this other than me (?).
  • I have previously CD ripped MP3s plus more recent music purchased from Amazon downloaded in MP3 form.
  • I used MediaMonkey to manage all those files and use the (I don't care about) Composer field for tags like Fall2016, Rhythm, Dynamic, Christmas, Choir, etc.
  • I create "Smart Playlists" based on ratings, fake composer tags, etc.
  • I create LAN shared folders on my computer with the same names as the playlists and do a copy of all files in each playlist to the corresponding shared folder
  • I copy the LAN shared folders to same named folders on the SD card of my phone using Android app SyncMe
  • I use Poweramp on my phone to play the folders as if they were playlists
You may say that I have duplicate MP3s in various folders on my phone, but with a 64 Gig SD card it really doesn't matter. I find this to be very simple.

As for finding new music, as others have said I listen to the radio, or ask Echo to recommend music for me (e.g., I just said play me some 60s music, then play some choral music, and Echo, what's this song). I also stumble on tunes as part of movie soundtracks, or in YouTube channels. Then when I decide I like a tune enough, I buy it as MP3 on Amazon. Rinse, wash, repeat.

posted by forthright at 6:57 PM on September 14, 2017

I sympathize with your pain.

I don't stream music. Ever. I don't think the royalty situation is good for musicians, and it uses data I simply don't have.

I buy almost all of my music from Amazon, and have an extensive CD library I ripped years ago (about 60GB of music in total...small by many standards, I guess). I have a PC, an iPad, and an Android phone that is my primary listening device.

I'm probably one of about three people in America who find iTunes under Windows tolerable (no, I don't LIKE it...but I don't hate it, either). I like the simplicity of the iPad music app, but the iPad is clumsy to use for listening on the bus, while walking, etc. I've finally found what may be a decent way to sync playlists, playcounts, etc. between my phone and iTunes (iSyncr). We'll see.

I have most of my music library on both the iPad and the phone, and I usually listen by album. Once I make sure iSycr is what I want to use, I'll probably start playing with playlists more. Playlist management has always been iTunes' strong suit.

In my Kia Soul I have a 32GB flash drive with most of my pop and rock albums (plus my Two Steps From Hell collection, and musicals, but no classical). I just let it play, occasionally skipping to an album I want. In my wife's Prius we have a 6-disk CD changer.

I may get an iPhone SE after Christmas and simplify music management by going all-Apple. I really like the sound out of my iPad.

I never listen to music on the radio.
posted by lhauser at 7:29 PM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

i'm a 'whole album' listener and tidal is my favorite for 'i just want to listen' due to the way they manage favorites using their stars.

a) stars for artist, song and album are independent of one another... star your favorite artists, it only appears under artist and doesn't automatically throw all the albums by that artist under albums. star your favorite albums and they only appears under albums (not under artists or songs). so i tend to use them as separate lists of 'i just want to listen to my favorite songs' or 'what album should i listen to'.

b) the starred artist/song/album default ordering is 'most recently starred' (you can change to alphabetical if needed). whatever i've added recently is right there at the top the same way i'd have a couple CDs always near my CD player (or in my car).

for my car, i make mp3 CDs of albums in folders. most current car CD players will play them (although they typically don't advertise it anywhere). it's like having a 10-disc changer in the car and i'll make a new cd every three to six months (just made one today!). this of course only works if you have MP3s available either ripped from your CDs or from download codes/itunes/bandcamp purchases.
posted by noloveforned at 8:19 PM on September 14, 2017

I'm an album listener and I don't use streaming services per se, but I do have my entire music library uploaded to both Google Play Music and Amazon Music. I listen to albums from those just like I would if it were on my device, including when I drive. I'll use the instant mix function on Google, based on a song. I also have made some playlists. And I've made compilation "albums" from things like all my favorited scrobbled songs on Last.FM and then select those ”albums" and shuffle the tracks.

I got an Echo last year and I find I'm listening to music a lot more often because I can just ask for it and it plays. The biggest problem has been in remembering album names that I want to hear -- I'll sometimes just ask it to shuffle the artist, then ask the name (and album) of the song, then switch to the album.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:40 PM on September 15, 2017

I was an early mp3 adopter (hello, Napster), and have tons of CDs ripped to my hard drive. Plus mp3 albums purchased more recently. I do not care for streaming, largely because I have lots of idiosyncratic tagging going on, like making "albums" complete with album art for various things.

I use Mediamonkey for music management, and have Mediamonkey for Android on my phone. My phone has a 64Gb SD card in it, and all of my music is synced to that card at all times. I have a bunch of smart playlists configured, several of which are combined in one mega-playlist named Random (500+ tracks), and I usually just hit that. There's a shortcut on my home screen.

The Random list will play 5-star songs I haven't heard in 2 weeks, plus 4.5-star songs I haven't heard in 4 weeks, plus 4-star songs I haven't heard in 2 months ... you get the idea. So my higher-rated stuff plays more often, but lower rated stuff still gets played. All new stuff (meaning, unrated) is also on the playlist. Usually about 2 dozen.

Sometimes I'll hit another playlist, or an artist, but it's the random one at least 90% of the time. And when I sync (daily), the list is updated.
posted by timepiece at 12:02 PM on September 19, 2017

I think the biggest problem these days is that we no longer listen to albums, just songs, and on top of that, there is none of the ceremony that used to be involved in buying a CD or a record (selecting, purchasing, taking it home, opening it up, reading the liner notes and song titles and lyrics etc. while you listen to it from start to finish) and so none of us are really invested in our music any more. You just tap your screen a couple of times and you've got the one song you like, mixed into a big bucket of a thousand other songs.

My advice: download entire albums rather than individual songs. Play the album from start to finish as it is numbered. Stop listening to mixes and playlists and start listening to music.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:51 PM on September 20, 2017

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