Monday, March 02, 2009

One year

I bought this sweet new Macbook a year ago today, and began building an entire music library nearly from the bottom up. I had a bit on an external hard drive hooked to my 5-year-old Gateway laptop, which was transferred over first thing.

Then I began the process of ripping several hundred CDs, including about 100 that I borrowed from my brother. Slowly and steadily I pushed through, and after a few months was mostly-but-not-quite done. I'm still stuck there, sick of the repetition of importing, with probably about another 50 or so burned discs left to go. I even had to put in a new optical drive after just a few months.

I deliberately went slowly so I could have the time to listen to much of what I was importing, especially the old favorites that had gathered a bit of dust. The process took me back to my early teens, rediscovering long-ago favorite albums. I got rid of a few that didn't hold up so well, but the majority of the CDs that stuck with me this long are keepers.

I've taken in plenty of tunes from friends as well, a process so easy and quick now with just an external hard drive. And I can stick everything I get from each person into one playlist, so even if I don't get to an album right away, I'll never forget who passed it along. And I save the playlists when I pass along tunes, so I never have to worry about looking like and idiot by giving somebody the same album twice.

So the iTunes library has now passed 300 gb and 50,000 songs, numbers which are certainly inflated by a lot of live shows (about 450 in all - about 50 shows apiece for Dylan and Springsteen, another 30 of Wilco/Jeff Tweedy) and and this new audiobook craze I've been on (I haven't listened to any of the audiobooks yet, but I'll have long drives in my future, right?).

One of the greatest features of iTunes is how it tracks everything, and I (if nobody else) find it fascinating to take a look back through my listening habits over the past year.

My iTunes library reports that I've listened to 7,854 songs, or a solid 52 gb, which is about all the music any normal person would ever need.

And as far as multiple listens, here's the breakdown:
• 2,161 songs with 3 or more plays
• 1,135 songs with 5 or more plays
• 403 songs with 10 or more plays
• 135 songs with 15 or more plays
• 44 songs with 20 or more plays

The top two songs have really stood out for me this entire year: "September" by Sumkid Majere tops out with 49 plays, while "Piles On The Floor" by my friends The Swim is a close second at 47 plays. "Skinny Love" by Bon Iver, "Man O' War" by Eric Bachmann and Gillian Welch's cover of Radiohead's "Black Star" round out the top 5. (Eric Bachmann and The Swim both have two songs in the top 10 most plays.)

There's no way to directly tell which albums are top played, but these three are definitely at the top: Every song on The Swim's Random Walk has 12 or more plays, every song on the Helio Sequence's Keep Your Eyes Ahead has 14 or more plays, and the Fleet Foxes' EP Sun Giant sits at 17 or more plays for every song. A handful of other records - mostly newer ones - have double digit play counts across the board.

I have dozens of old mixes, both ones I've made and ones I was given, recreated as playlists. I did the music for two weddings out of this library. I've given I try to keep all the files up to date with album art (or at least a good picture of the band for a bootleg), and record label and producer where it's applicable. It takes some time, but I can instantly call up every Rick Rubin produced song, or everything I have from Merge Records.

Sometimes it feels like I'm a curator as much as a music listener, but the building and organzing part is mostly over by now. I'll keep ripping CDs as I buy them, but that's never more than a few at a time. I've been a big lover of eMusic, so that's where I get most of my downloads - and for live music. And a well-organized library is a huge help for blogging. So these days, it's mostly just listening, or choosing just what to keep on the iPod. The music aquisition process will never quite be over, but I feel like the main job with the library is done. And it only took a year...

Sumkid - September
The Swim - Piles On The Floor
The Catfish Vegas top 13 songs of the past year (zip file)

What are your top played songs? And how many plays? Discuss in comments...


Sparkle Face said...

How do you even know where to begin with that much music? I think I would be overwhelmed and listen to the same things over and over. Well, I know that's what I'd do because it's what I do now. It's shameful really.

Catfish Vegas said...

Start with new recommendations...
Pick your favorites out of a new mix and then go back through it all as you see fit. Repeat endlessly.

Mr. Tim Finnegan said...

Merge Records!

Arcade Fire has been my most played band for 2 years running.

My Body is a Cage = most played song

Von Bondies is 2nd

Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!