How do you structure and prioritise listening to (ever growing lists of) new music you want to explore?

Don’t know if this has been asked before, but with all of the end of year lists coming in I can’t be the only one with an ever growing list of ‘must listen to…’ artists and albums, as well as fair few back catalogues that I’m yet to delve into and want to get round to at some point.

I feel like every time I come on here I get a few new artists I add to the list and there’s only so much time available to catch up on it all. I also find I it’s quite easy to fall into the trap of listening to things fairly superficially and not have a proper opinion on something until I’ve been able to give it my full attention for a period of time.

So based on this, my slightly rambling question / set of questions is…

  • how do you structure and prioritise listening to new music when you have an ever-growing list of things to get through (whether actually new releases or just new to you artists / albums you want to check out)
  • for new music, how and when do you tend to make a call on it / how many listens do you give before deciding to either add it to a list of things you’ll go back to or decide not bother with it again (I guess this kind of assumes you’re streaming and so there’s no investment and you can listen to or ditch as much as you like)
  • Slightly separate question but what split of time would you say you dedicate to exploring new music vs listening to things you’re already familiar with

Obviously no right or wrong answer but would be interested in people’s thoughts.

i have a system that would look bizarre as fuck to anyone on the outside that goes something like album-ep-album-mix-compilation-old album/reissue, etc etc and i very rarely waver from it. even when i do i find i’m not paying as much attention and it stops being fun, or i quickly get overwhelmed by how much music is out there. probably sounds weird but it works for me. i use spotify a lot just for organising things in much the same way i used to with itunes.
have bookmarks and playlists to scan through and make a decision on what to listen to within a certain parameter like above.

i tend not to listen to many albums more than twice in the same month no matter how much i might like them. again, probably weird as hell to some but i like to listen to as much stuff as i can so repeat listens aren’t for me at all, clive, unless they’re spaced out a bit.

question 3 is complicated because i think there’s a large gray area of stuff i’m sort of familiar with but still feels fresh to listen to. on the other hand i have some all-time favourite albums that i might not listen to once in a calendar year.

Spotify offline folder with 30 playslists, switch 15 out every two weeks - keep 3, replace 12.

Anything I really like goes into another offline folder, and I try to buy it on vinyl. Massive backlogs obvs, vinyl is💰

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I download albums I want to hear and then listen to them when I’m in the mood.


Cheers, I like the sound of this - might give something similar a go

I’ve found it really helpful - I’m someone who gets the most out of music when I time into it. Before I started doing this I was listening to everything once or twice and loving very little, I’m listening to less but enjoying it more.

bookmark albums on Spotify and wishlist them on Bandcamp, then look through them later when i’m looking for something to listen to.

not very efficient as certain things get accidentally ignored for ages. still need to listen to the new HMHB!

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what smashing pumpkins record did you listen to today ttf?

Hardly try, just think what I fancy at any time. Trying to listen to less stuff more often which can be fun.

Going into a phase where I’m not fussed on music which is shit but I’ll be over it come January.

I use my car journeys to work, about 45 mins each way so perfect for the average album, to listen to new stuff from Spotify. At home, with my big speakers and nice set up I listen to things I love on vinyl. Every year the “albums of the year list” process is really important for me as it helps me decide on the ten or twenty things that make the leap from the former to the latter.

Here is my ridiculous methodology:

Create giant Spotify playlists, titled To Play, Played Once (Twice, Three, Four+ times). Each week add new releases based on Metacritic, DiS, Flying Out (NZ music store affiliated with Flying Nun, for the NZ stuff), plus the old stuff (I’m doing career re-listens to Bowie, Ramones, Wilco family).

Listen through the To Play playlist and move to Played Once. Continue like this. Usually everything gets four listens minimum, though if it’s really not for me I’ll drop it earlier. At that point if i like it it gets saved, if not deleted, if unsure I keep listening to it.

I buy CDs and put them in CD wallets in the car and then listen to them when I want (ie when I am in the car). It’s about 95 per cent new music, on the rare occasions I buy non-new music it’s music that’s new to me.

About once a year I clear out the CDs in the car, taking out everything I haven’t been listening to and put it in a huge CD wallet in the house, never to be listened to again.

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Start with Bandcamp for any rec. If it’s on there I add it to my wishlist. If not there then I add the album to a Spotify playlist.
I can listen at work so I play stuff there.

Generally find if I like something it lodges in my head even after this and I can add the album to a keeper list in Spotify to listen again.

Generally given something up to 3 listens

Totally unstructured because what I enjoy depends totally on my mood.

I now give barely any time to music that doesn’t stick because otherwise it feels like I end up spending all my time listening to music I don’t actually like. There are exceptions e.g. gave the Hillary Woods album a lot of time this year because of DIS enthusiasm and because it theoretically ticked the boxes of stuff I normally like. But actually I feel quite confident in my own taste these days and worry less about missing out or wondering what it is I’m not getting about artist x.

I’m sure both these things mean I am missing a lot of great music but maybe I’ll stumble on my favourite 2018 album in 2024. But even if not it doesn’t matter, it’s like chasing rainbows. I’ve genuinely loved over 70 new albums this year. It’s (more than) enough.

More generally it’s fair enough to be cynical about the whole vinyl revival thing but I do think there is something intrinsically different about having a physical copy of an album that enables engagement (cd too). I spend most of my time using streaming because of the practicality but it still somehow misses a certain level of engagement.

Love bandcamp btw. Only really started using it over the last couple of years and I’m a big convert.

I’m similarly impatient, these days.

Also, I probably only have the capacity to hear one or two new-to-me albums a day, depending on my mood. More than that and it gets overwhelming - nothing is going to sink in.

Therefore the rest of my listening is music I already know and like (and own), which seems like a sensible balance to me. I get a lot more out of listening to favourite stuff for the umpteenth time than I do following up on recommendations all day. It’s possible I listened to nothing but Nick Cave in October. All that new music isn’t going anywhere, and sometimes it’s more rewarding to wallow in your favourite stuff, like you used to do when you only owned a dozen albums.

As for the new stuff I love, I always buy those albums on CD or on Bandcamp (can’t go all-streaming). Once I’ve done that (and ripped the CDs) I have smart playlists like ‘Not listened to yet’ so that nothing gets neglected.


did you come around to the Woods album? i gave it more time than i was naturally inclined to as well and it still hasn’t really clicked.

No I didn’t. Definitely a case of quite liking any given individual track but not liking the album as a whole. Gave it 8 or 9 proper listens and actually ended up quite disliking it, which is a bit unfair.

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Actually just setting one new to me an album a day would probably work for me. It’s the wading through stuff to find what’s worth giving an hour to that is tricky.

I’m still in the habit of automatically downloading stuff by bands I like or stuff I like the sound of to investigate later, but because I’m yer auld da and still using an iPod Classic, I’ve started picking three albums from my download folder on the PC each week and putting them in their own “To Listen To” genre on iTunes, which seperates them from all the existing favourites on the iPod.

Found I’ve given a lot more time to recent downloads due to them not getting lost in the overall sprawl on the iPod.

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