How Do You Identify What to Listen To?

We live in a world where streaming has opened up an avalanche of music available at a few clicks, how do you decide what to listen to?

In my case there are a few sources that I use:

1. publish articles with peoples recommended recordings;
2. Threads in this forum;
3. Reviews where the reviewer lists what they use an what they hear, Chris on Computer Audiophile & Tone Audio for instance.

I will also do searches for various genres and set up playlists, filtering out those that don't appeal.

What sites and methodologies do you use?

Do you construct lists by music genre or by mood?


Original Post

Looking at new releases on allmusic or tidal. Or listening to the radio.

Other than that I browse along the LP shelf until I see something which takes my fancy. Or scroll through the list of ripped albums or artists.

In general I don't do playlists. That is what the radio is for (bbc radio 6 or radio paradise mainly).

Setting aside radio, I have a really cheesy way of deciding what music to play from the server. There are about 2,600 albums and I've split them into my own genres. Rather than list them I've done a screen shot. The 'language' genre is Hilary's French language CDs, rather than music. So I'll think 'I want some jazz' and it's there. If I want some vocal jazz, it's a separate genre. We've used this for about three years now and it works well, for us anyway. 

The problem I encounter when deciding what to listen to (as opposed to what to buy next) is simply the more albums I possess, the harder it is to choose! Even with a relatively small collection (1,700 CDs) there are many artists/genres I may not have played for some months (or even years). I'm often tempted to go to the old favourites which I know will always 'hit the spot', or play the latest acquisitions until they pall. Matching music/artist to mood isn't always easy, and I can often find myself spending 30 minutes or more simply choosing what to play. I don't do play lists or random selections, and when I play an album I don't like to skip tracks. Life was so much easier when I had much less listening time on my hands, and far fewer albums to choose from! 

Dozey posted:

Other than that I browse along the LP shelf until I see something which takes my fancy.


I did have a friend many years ago who, having a wall full of albums, came to the conclusion that he never actually played 90% of them, as his default choice seemed to be from within a selection of the last couple of dozen purchased, or, as you say, one which took his fancy on the day.

His browsing solution? ............... a deck of playing cards lying beside his racks.

Based on the last album played, he'd turn over the top card, and if red, he moved to the right according to the number on the card, if black, the other direction.

This way, he got to listen to many of his "forgotten" albums, and, of course, could create entirely new "playlists" simply by shuffling the deck! 

Thank goodness for streaming and the ease of iPad browsing.



I have about 270 vinyl albums split into only 4 genres:

Rock/pop - blues/jazz - Acoustic/folk - classical.


I pick a genre and then its easy for me - I'm blind so I just stick out a hand at random ... amazing what I've re-listened to!


Picking from the 1,000+ albums on the UnitiServ is much harder.

Being of a certain age, I dislike playing just tracks and only do so if its just background music.

Albums choice differs from time to time, either old stuff I want to wallow in; or a genre to suit a mood; or an artist that has got into my head ...


Since I have so many gaps in my collection of my favourite artists and genres due to financial restrictions in my youth, I tend to purchase new reissues of old albums. I am afraid I don't tend to purchase new stuff unless recommended strongly by my kids.


Well, it used to be albums borrowed from friends or sometimes BBC Radio 3/4, which informed my music purchasing.

Post introduction of Flac streaming, it's Tidal for me, but their suggestions leave me cold.  Thank God for Naim Forums, Music Room.  On this Earth, thanks to Richard, the originator, of the most frequented thread,  and then to Bert, whose frequent and eclectic postings, are sending me in in wonderful directions.

For ECM, (not on Tidal) it has to be the ECM website, However I don't like ECM's new material as much.

I use Amazon's Mp3 previews sometime, to preview recordings not on Tidal.

I still listen to LP, and sometimes prefer it. I'm considering an online  subscription to " The Gramophone" in an attempt to boost my orchestral interests.

From time to time I browse the Naim catalog, I have quite a few Naim downloads. Certainly, would not want to be without Stuart McCallum and Neil Cowley!




We use TV streaming on Amazon and Netflix and some of the US programmes have some really interesting music.  One particular track we found came from the TV series of Bloodline by a band called Book of Fears.  This one in particular was one to explore.  There have been numerous others including Lissie.

I ve got 4000 albums and 2000 C.Ds and a 1000 + cassettes and don't stream.The closest I get is connecting my tablet with a 3.5 mm jack into 2 phono socket lead and listen to stuff on YouTube.Its sounds very good to my ears and is a great way to listen to bootlegs and dance d.j mixes.I often record these onto cassette.

Totally agree with what Timo 1341 mentioned about being overloaded with choice.It can be a nightmare sometimes deciding and I must admit occasionally I have given up !

I find it a comfort thing seeing my album splines.Although I do admit it's alot of clutter. But love the tactile feel of vinyl the memories of where you where in your life in that decade not to mention the art work and music.

BBC 4 can be a good source of music to listen to as it has some excellent documentaries about bands and music.  I'm watching when albums ruled the world at the moment and its full of brilliant albums, many of which I have heard or got but some I haven't that I will try. 

Primarily I use nostalgia. I'll start with something I have a hankering for then explore related artists. Outside of that I sometimes use Shazam to identify interesting music. Unfortunately it often gets it wrong or can't identify a track altogether.

Apple Music has some good curated playlists for music discovery. I used to like Pitchfork but they've fallen off since they were purchased by Condé Nast.

Technically, we may live in a world where 'streaming' may be the flavour of the day and gets all the attention but for me that is not the case.  Fortunately, the world I live in with other like minded people (the silent majority, maybe?) the world is still turning quite well with older obsolete formats such as CD, vinyl, radio and even cassettes.

Yes, I do get the convenience factor which may be the only plus for streaming but this is where I get to the crux of the matter.  I have a rather large collection of music from many years of collecting and I also have a large number of albums on i-Tunes.  When I really intend to 'listen' to music I only go to my physical collection.  Like others, I really enjoy spending time looking through what I have in order to choose what to listen to (if I don't know immediately).  I find pleasure comes from activating any of my the senses - touch, seeing, hearing, and you might even include smell if you think of some old vinyl albums and taste if you want to get philosophical about what music to choose.

Having a million tracks in a streamer tends to cheapen the value of music for me.  I like having lots of choice but when it is hidden in some mystical realm or hidden in a non-tangible way  then I am not as happy.  What a nightmare!

Yes, I have a bit of burden to house a physical product and this can be overwhelming if you are not on top of it every so often.  However, I gladly accept this chore as I enjoy it.  I do remember being gung ho about digital at one time in my life.  I would spend countless days going through and editing the information (tracks / artists / albums / composers etc) because they were mostly never correct (OCD) and this was taking over my purpose for collecting music in the first place  Then there is the computer issues and the risk of losing everything and the backups.  Been there, done it and in hindsight I say no thank you except as a secondary platform that only is used for background music and convenience.

I don't listen to tracks - either random or chosen - I listen to albums usually.  Most albums feature one composer and so I have things sorted by composer and it turns out to be rather easy to go to a section I know I want and peruse a little and find something that will excite me.  Not so easy for albums that are a mix of different composers.  Annoying but not the end of the world. 

In what to listen to I rely first on my mood.  Do I want to listen to just a particular genre (solo piano, chamber music, opera etc)?  This is the starting point and from here will depend really on whether I just want to listen to any good music or whether I want to listen to something specifically because I may be wanting to play the same on the piano and study the score or interpretations.  When I have indecision I tend to let the Music Room here guide me and more often than not I get much inspiration from what others are listening to. 

Perhaps shameless to admit , but I'm ' friends' with some well known DJs on social media, particularly one DJ who has played for four decades pretty much every genre there is that is worth listening to. My news feed is a fountain of great recommendations and knowledge.

Finding music isnt an issue, I use a lot of the techniques highlighted above (well, except the playing card one ). I also:

- own a copy of a book suggesting 1001 things i should listen to before i pop my clogs. I dip into this every month or so, see what i dont have that takes my fancy, and then see if its stupid cheap online. If it's a few quid, i'll have it the next day. Found some amazing music to listen to via that route which I wouldnt have considered due to my very narrow listening history.

- Cheap box sets via the 'original album series' where the recordings might not be the best, but it allows a broad view of an artists first albums again only for say a tenner. 

- DAB radio channels - given the time i spend in the car, and that my new car as DAB i can focus in on genre radio types and just listen to opens until one which catches my ears, or rekindles a lost artist comes along.

Thank god, its all on a HDX as picking something off a shelf is now daunting.




Radio Paradise is my standard and when some amazing combination kicks me in the butt and I have that on CD or vinyl I'll dig it out.  Right now I'm fairly stagnant on organizing my collection after my move because so many other things are begging to be done.

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