I need to clean out my ears. So from January to November 2009, I'm embarking on a kind of purification rite. In that time, I'm only allowing myself to download one MP3 at a time; the next MP3 can only be downloaded once I listen to the first one. With CDs, if I buy one, I have to listen to it all before I buy another, and before I am allowed to rip any of it to iTunes. There will surely be exceptions--CDs that suck, that I can't deal with playing all the way through--but hearing a bad album end to end is, if nothing else, a learning experience, so I plan to stick by this rule as much as I can.
I write about music and am on a number of publicists' mailing lists. I'm not sent as many free physical CDs as I used to be--a blessing--but they still arrive and they still pile up, and it's impossible to hear them all, not that I necessarily want to. I've often ripped the better looking ones to my hard drive, put them on my iPod, and never, ever listened to them. The one-in, one-out rule should eliminate this wasteful procedure. Digital promos I will download only when I have time to hear them, just like any other MP3s I acquire.
Like a lot of people who love music a lot, I am a pack rat and a glutton. The Slow Listening Movement is my way of trying to curb those tendencies. Partly this is out of necessity: I have back taxes to start paying off, I'm planning to move cross-country (hopefully speaking, soon; practically speaking, probably not any time soon), and I'm sick of feeling trapped by my own clutter, be it my overcrowded CD shelves or the ungodly amount of MP3s my 1TB hard drive contains. It's great to have an extensive reference library, and many of those MP3s are duplicates--organizing it will be a project in itself--but there's a limit to these things as necessities. I can stand to indulge myself with fewer mindless acquisition sprees. Of course, it's not really a movement if only one person does it, and I hope others try it as well. (The name is, of course, a hat-tip to the Slow Food Movement.)
I've deliberately made this an 11-month project rather than a 12-month one. December is when year-end best-of come out en masse, and I've long had the habit of compiling playlists based on the more intriguing singles/tracks lists, as well as picking up likely-looking CDs I've missed. (Not to mention Christmas, when I often ask for new titles and, occasionally, box sets.) But with any luck, after 11 months of one pellet at a time, I'll have acclimated to it enough that I won't get too greedy for my own good again. Thanks for joining me in this experiment.