Oct 1, 2016

On the habit of monthly playlists

While discussing music listening habits with friends the other night I mentioned my ritual of curating monthly playlists containing music I’ve been listening to that month, and it seemed to be a new idea to some that was met with approval. I thought I’d make a quick post here in case you like it too.

Music provides a soundtrack to my life. I’m quite obsessive when I find albums or tracks that I really love, so much so that they become inextricably intertwined with the memories and recollections of that particular time. Revisiting an album or song at a later date takes me back to that time, often evoking similar emotions and feelings. Whether good or bad I have albums attached to almost all the major events or eras of my life.

For many, myself included, habits are changing with the increasing use of streaming services. While I still listen to albums obsessively (the new Bon Iver album 22, Million has been on repeat for the last 24 hours, it’s beautiful.), I increasingly use Spotify’s discovery playlists or find single tracks that I love significantly more than it’s album companions. I don’t see this as a bad thing–I’ve discovered so many great albums through a single track on a playlist–but it does mean that it’s not as easy to keep track of what music is associated with what time.

It’s a simple habit. Each month I start a new playlist and as I discover new music, old music I love that’s been out of mind for a time, or anything else that catches my ear and ends up on repeat for a few days, it gets added to that month’s list. The key is to add only the stuff you listen to again and again. As this collection builds up it becomes a series of time capsules that allow me to rewind to that month. It’s like an audio photo gallery.

Perhaps one day I’ll write some script to assemble the top 10 or 20 tracks from my scrobbles automatically, but for now the process of doing it manually is a habit I’m in and it works quite nicely. Maybe you’ll want to give it a try.