Before moving to a 13 inch MacBook Pro with a 120GB SSD I had 31GBs of music in my iTunes Library. Now I have 17GBs. The reduction was influenced by space constraints, but after limiting my selection I have found myself listening to more music.
When I first migrated to the 120GB SSD I brought along all of my music and eliminated the songs with the lowest ratings. Listening to only my four and five star songs is enjoyable when I am out on the go with my iPod, but I have found the time spent sitting in front of my computer is more productive when I am listening to whole albums.
My entire music collection contains thousands of songs in hundreds of albums, composed by a limited set of artists. My musical taste has been established and I am not looking for new music. Instead of listening to the radio I spend my time reliving my favorite albums by listening to them over and over again. Albums, more than individual songs, help us identify with the artists we admire. They show us a snapshot into our artist’s lives a mismatch of greatest hits cannot provide. A playlist of my favorite songs lacks the direction and consistency that comes with a composed album. When writing, coding, or designing I find an album’s lesser known tracks are just as important as its well known hits for providing a familiar, productive working environment.
iTunes makes identifying your favorite albums easy. In the album list view you can see the rating iTunes has automatically given each of your albums based on the songs it contains. You can choose to set a permanent rating for each of your albums that differs from the rating iTunes applied. I often find that iTunes automatically under values my albums based on the sum of its songs. Some album’s songs flow better together than other albums and in my mind this increases their value. You don’t have to remove your least valued albums like I did, but by rating your music by album you gain a greater understanding of what you are listening to.
The next time you sit down to listen to music try listening to a favorite album instead of a collection five star songs. You might find you work better and appreciate your music more when you listen to it the way it was meant to be played.