Consider the 6,330 un-played tracks in my iTunes account. Within one year, each must be either played or deleted.
I began ripping mp3s in 1999 when I bought a Riō PMP 300 player. For most of the intervening fifteen years, I’ve had my mp3 files in a variety of player/libraries on the Windows XP platform. In January 2012, I got my first Macbook, collated most of my mp3 files, and uploaded them to iTunes. In the intervening two years, I’ve listened to a lot of music – at least 25,000 plays on last.fm – but over 64% of my collection remains un-played … since January 2012.
My un-played tracks are equally divided between popular music and “classical” music.
I know this because while I’m sloppy with other meta tags (such as “genre”), I’m scrupulous about adding the composers (last name, first) and deleting songwriters. This is not a value judgment: it’s a way of organizing my media for teaching purposes.
The most-represented composers of the un-played tracks are the composers that are most important to me. Similarly, the artists I admire figure prominently amount un-played tracks.
This curious anomaly reflects two things:
- A large number of non-commercial recordings (such as phonograph test-pressings, performances by semi-professional groups, bootleg concerts, and other germane audio files, such as lectures and interviews).
- The interval stretching back to when something was important, either in my personal listening or professional listening (i.e., “teaching”).
It is this last notion that fascinates me, that drives the project forward. I am revisiting the “deep cut” album tracks that were important to me when I was young – when my clumsy cassettes would not allow me to skip them. I am revisiting the first CD’s I bought after graduating college, and by extension, the long forgotten record stores. Even the curiously obscure music I bought for one-off lectures or downloaded as targets of opportunity in the early days of file sharing give pause: each tells of a story I can tell.
Oversimplified in short and overwrought in fine, I have found compressed memories in my iTunes account.