This is how I found my music taste 10 years ago
Spotify launched in 2011, but streaming music didn’t really come to India until Apple Music launched in late 2012. Before then, and even after then for a bit, everyone in India was listening to most of their music using illegally downloaded mp3 files. Including me.
During a 3 week long experience in Germany at age 14, where I lived with a German family and experienced a German lifestyle, I noticed that it was uncommon for them to illegally download mp3 music. People either bought CDs or bought songs from iTunes.
At the same time, I was also starting to get into music production (in fact, some of my music from that time is still there on the Internet), and that got me thinking of just how much work goes into making one single song, let alone an entire album.
I started to feel bad about my ill-gotten 3000 song mp3 collection.
I guess we all had an iPod/phone filled with mp3s at some point
What did I do? —
I decided at that point to entirely stop downloading new music illegally, and go through my existing collection to see what I really wanted to keep, and delete the rest. It was like spring cleaning/Marie Kondo but for my music library.
I started finding alternatives to downloading illegally — the iTunes store launched in India at that time, and each song was Rs. 10 (€0.12) — I thought that if I could spend that money on a pack of chips at the store, I could definitely purchase music for the same amount. So I did.
But that wasn’t enough to keep up with my music needs. So I discovered this app called 8tracks that basically let me discover and play playlists without being able to skip songs. Through that app was how I developed most of what my music taste is today — obscure, independent music that most people haven’t heard of (or won’t hear of for a few years until they become hits).
I also started discovering and listening to artists on SoundCloud and YouTube that gave away their music for free. One of my favourite artists and inspirations of all time, CJ Trillo, was discovered by me on YouTube.
I discovered artists such as Bon Iver, alt-J, The 1975 on 8tracks
In essence —
Deciding to stop downloading mp3s had a few positive effects —
The music in my library was now the music that I really liked and wanted to listen to. I could now shuffle my library and not skip 3 songs out of 5. It turns out that paying for music makes you far more mindful of what you buy, and makes you value what you get a lot more.
Through finding alternatives on 8tracks (now defunct), SoundCloud, and YouTube, I was able to expand my music listening to genres and artists far beyond what I was listening to before, which contributed to my development as an artist and creative far more than I imagined it would.
I felt far more confident as a music listener. I knew I was supporting the artists I listened to, instead of stealing from them. Especially the smaller ones.
I also realized that this could be applied to other areas of my life as well. It made me far more mindful of my digital “clutter”, and mindful of supporting the artists and creators that I value. Turns out that the constraint of having to pay for my music made me minimize, declutter and positively alter my listening habits.
It turns out that constraints breed creativity and resourcefulness.
Thanks for reading this far. Are there any areas in your life you feel like you could declutter? How are you going to achieve that? Hit “reply” and let me know.