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Put Your iTunes Library on a Diet

My music buying habits have slowed considerably since my college days, when I'd rush down to the music store every Tuesday and spend every penny I hadn’t guzzled through a beer bong the previous weekend, but I still managed to amass a rather prodigious CD collection. When I got a Mac and an iPod, this turned into a rather prodigious iTunes library, and quickly became a major thorn in my side.

Having suffered through a couple hard drive crashes, upgrades, and subsequent backing and re-backing up lately, I've really been feeling the weight of that 100+ GB media millstone around my neck. I felt so great when I ripped that last CD and put all those unsightly jewel cases into storage, thinking it would simplify my life. Instead, it just created bigger headaches.

I know, I know, there are a bazillion ways I can slice and dice my iTunes library, storing it on different drives, shunting the videos off to a server, pimping out my machines with terabyte drives, etc, but it begs the question: do I really need all that crap in my life?

I finally started doing something about it by ordering what I called D-Day II. My D-Day I happened in college when someone swiped a CD wallet full of about 50 discs, the first major casualties to my music collection. The irony is that while my renter's insurance paid me a pretty good settlement, I only repurchased about half of what I lost, and those were the supposed good albums that I was carrying around in my car all the time. It should have taught me the lesson back then that when it comes to buying music, we all suck.

So D-Day II involved combing through my iTunes library, deleting all the music I knew that not only would I never listen to again, but would probably embarrass me if it popped up in a party shuffle. Face it, as we get older, our tastes change. All those middling, B-list albums I bought based off recommendations from Yo! MTV Raps or three-star ratings in Rolling Stone? Gone. The 90% filler tracks on albums I basically bought for one good song? Gone. It was surprising how much junk I was toting around; after one pass, without making any really tough calls, I slimmed my iTunes library by a third.

And don't get me started with video. I haven't even bought that many TV shows or movies from iTunes, but I can already see it's going to cause problems. Once my son passes his Dora phase, it'll be adios, Swiper, no swiping my hard drive space. And as much as I loved those seasons of Weeds, I can't see myself ever watching them again, so if push comes to shove, Nancy and Conrad will have to go too.

I understand some of you may not have the guts to delete this stuff completely, but do yourself a favor and move the files to an external disk. Then put it away, mark down the date, and if a year later you haven't touched it, delete that thing and use it for porn again like it was meant to be. If you're having trouble getting started, Merlin posted some good tips about using smart playlists to identify the lame stuff.

Smart people like Peter Walsh are making a career out of helping us purge our physical junk, but we neglect our computer junk and end up with digital rec rooms stuffed full of bad 311 albums and box sets of Fastlane. What's the worst that can happen anyway? You'll have to buy a few albums again? Trust me, you won't even miss them.

badgerfan's picture

begs the question?

What you really meant in your third paragraph was it raises the question. Begging for a question to be asked is not the same as begging the question. Begging the question is a logical fallacy in which the premises are related to the conclusion in such a way that the recipients of the argument have no less reason to doubt the premises as the conclusion. The way you have used it is a colloquialism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question

I similarly have had several D-days to my music collection. My CD wallet was stolen and I lost around 80 CDs. I replaced very few of them, and my music collection is now completely different. I have also had several hard drive crashes that have wiped me clean. With my music collection growing to close to 30gb I think it's time again for another purge. Why do I have so much Michael Jackson?




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