The Old Grey Calendar Test

StarKickerI mentioned in my previous post that I have 200-and-something songs in my 2017 4-star songs playlist. It made me wonder: how does 2017 compare to earlier years? Has it been a pretty decent year for music? A few years ago, I had a theory that there were on years and off years, with the even-numbered years generally off. It’s not quite that simple, but – before looking – I’d say 2017 has been a solid good, but will this music pass the test of time?

I start the smart playlist-of-the-year at the turn, and let it build. I still acquire a decent amount of new music every year, and I’m still interested enough in new country artists that I’ll try most things at least once. One change in my habits this past year is that I haven’t actually paid for much music. It’s a trivial saving in the big scheme (over £200, though), but given that so much music is available for free on YouTube (and I’m talking official artist accounts as well as user-uploads), I’m just using a download utility. Rather than accumulate a mess of mis-labelled music, I always take the time to make the metadata as much as possible. I feel a little bit bad about this, but the music industry has done pretty well out of me for 40 years or so, and most of these artists are making their living playing live. YouTube is obviously seen as a loss-leader.

So. 208 songs (I’ve added the balance of Chris Stapleton’s From A Room Vol 2, which was released on December 1) in the 2017 playlist. But how many of them will still have 4 stars or more in a couple of years?

They come from around 25 albums, which means I’ve acquired a couple of albums per month this year. In the 2016 playlist, there are still 192 songs, from around 20 albums. Not a bad hit rate, though only 15 of them have been awarded 5 stars, making them keepers.

In the 2015 list, there are just 77 songs remaining, from around 10 albums, give or take. So 2015 looks like one of the off years, suggesting that 2017 might see a similar falling away.

2014 was definitely an on year. There still remain 118 songs from 13-15 albums.

The last year for which I retain a smart playlist is 2013, which still has 40 songs from 11-ish albums. Only 6 have been awarded the coveted 5-star rating. But back then, I was still paying for most of my music, whereas my new status as a freeloader means I’m downloading stuff I would never have paid for.

But how much music has been rejected from each year? That’s the true test, right? So, the total number of tracks in my iTunes library with 2013 as a release date is 354. The 40 survivors represent the top 11%.

2014: 440 total, so the 118 survivors represent 27%.

2015: 274 total. 77 survivors represent 28%.

2016: 318 total. 192 survivors = 60%

2017: 208/218 = 95%.

Turns out, 2017 was a below-average year for new music acquisition, demonstrating, perhaps, the difference between just clicking a “Purchase” button and consciously taking the time to download and edit metadata. This is not to say that I haven’t added stuff released in prior years, but I’m not going far down that rabbit hole (the answer is 354). I don’t imagine this 95% situation will last long, so we’ll have to see what starts to irritate me when it comes on in the car.

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One response to “The Old Grey Calendar Test”

  1. That’s an almost linear rate of deselection for two years (c.30%) and then a ‘settled’ selection. Probably applies to big album lists too like those popular top 100s etc.

    Some time ago I cleaned up metadata using TuneUp, which sorted out albums/covers/genres/artists/composers/years and so on. Still needs to be used with some caution, but I was pleased with outcome.

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