I don't really trust a sane person. -Lyle Alzado
Question #92757 posted on 11/25/2019 4:18 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Hi! Old person here. (Not old enough to be your mom, but getting close.)

I've asked this question before ( [url="https://100hourboard.org/questions/61510/"] ) but I think times have changed, and my reason for asking the question has changed.

How do you listen to music?
(Pandora on your computer? Radio in the car? Certain playlists on an ipod for certain moods or activities? By artist or album, perhaps?)

Last time I asked out of curiosity, but now I ask because I have a sinking feeling I'm doing things the old way that is getting phased out. My preferred method is to shuffle the songs in one of my playlists on my iPod. Having a separate device for music is annoying, but when I had trouble getting my music set up the way I like it on an android phone years ago, I just bought a bunch of old iPods and have one for the car, one for the house speaker, etc. I like the music I like, and don't enjoy radio or streaming because of that.

But given that much of that music was downloaded from Napster, I can see why that is not what is trendy now. Apple doesn't make tiny iPods anymore. And when they announced that iTunes was starting to phase out, I started to panic.

So... how does the new way of doing things work, exactly? Do streaming services get better when you pay for them? (Currently, I pick a "station" I think I will like and only like half the songs that play.) Is there another way of doing things I'm not even aware of?

Even if you don't feel like your way is the "right" or "typical" way, I still like hearing how you tend to listen to music!

If it is of any relevance, my phone is a Pixel 3. My husband has always had an iPhone paid by his work, but I'm usually using an android unless I'm on one of his hand-me-downs.

Thanks for your advice!

-The Answer is 42


Dear "What is Chris Martin's favorite number", 

I have a Samsung Galaxy 8+. I don't know why that's relevant but hey, might as well overshare with strangers on the Internet, right? 

I'm an avid Spotify Premium user. I have it set up both on my phone and on my laptop. Sometimes I'm switching between things while I'm working on my homework so it's easiest to listen on my computer. This also allows me to pull up stuff on Youtube in between if I want to. That's normally what I do if I can't find specifically what I'm looking for on Spotify (For example, the Sky Full of Stars EP, which wasn't released in the U.S. We're working on that though.) I don't pay for Youtube music, because I don't use it often enough to justify that. I used to use Pandora as a way to find new music, but it wasn't very good at that, so instead I just use the browse features on Spotify to search for playlists that are similar to genres or artists that I like. That seems to be pretty effective, at least so far.  

I share the Spotify account with my best friend, so it's only half as much. Of course, I am probably a little backed up on those payments and ought to rectify that, haha... In any case, it's nice because the Spotify Premium student purchase also comes with Hulu, which makes it even more worth it. That's the only place that has Veronica Mars right now. Even though season 4 was... emotionally traumatizing. In any case, I think it's totally worth the price, and I will likely continue to pay for an account after our student discount has terminated. I'll probably get my own account with Pebble at that point. (And I'm just now realizing I'll probably have to move over all my playlists, which isn't super fun, but probably not that hard.) 

As far as organization goes, I typically am a playlist listener. I make my playlists based on my mood, or a bit by genre. To name a few: a Hygge playlist for cozy listening, a Chill playlist for sleeping or relaxed studying, a Christmas playlist, a Coffeeshop/Americana playlist, a running/motivation playlist, an 80s party mood playlist, an intense study playlist, and a girl-power playlist (which is honestly one of the main reasons I'm surviving this semester. God bless Lizzo for her talents and ability to imbue me with power through sound waves.) 

Of course, I also have my Coldplay playlist that is their entire discography organized by... studio albums chronologically, then B-sides chronologically, then all live albums chronologically. This is the best iteration of playlist organization I have found to date. It has gone through multiple phases. It is a masterpiece. 

I often listen to specific artists that I'm feeling that day, though. In those cases most of the time I'll just shuffle the artist after I search them up. 

I quite rarely just shuffle everything I have, because my music taste is pretty diverse, and it feels weird to listen to 80s and then americana/folk and then Coldplay and then cheesy love songs.

I recently created a last.fm so I could learn a little more about my listening habits over time. I was not surprised by the results, of course. And you wouldn't be either, if you know anything about me. 

TL;DR - Spotify Premium reigns supreme, I am meticulous about creating playlists that correspond to a mood, I also listen to specific artists, and use the browse feature to discover new music that is similar to what I know I like.  


Guesthouse ☾☀


Dear Douglas Adams, 

I use Spotify Premium because I love love love being able to download music on my phone to listen offline and I have kind of weird eclectic tastes that would make it financially infeasible for me to buy all the music that I want to listen to.

As for how and what I listen to, I've developed a weird and slightly intricate system for finding new music. I begin with the Discover Weekly and New Releases playlists that Spotify makes me based of what I've listened to in the past. Honestly, these are where I find most of the new music I listen to because Spotify's recommendation system has gotten really good. If I remember correctly, part of what it does is recommend not only similar things to what you already listen to but also songs and artists that other users have in the same playlists as the artists and songs that you listen to. This keeps things fresh, which - in my opinion - is what drove me away from Pandora. After a while, all the songs sound exactly the same.

Then, I transfer songs that I'm interested in into another playlist that I call my "Not Sure If" playlist. Basically, these are the songs that are intriguing and that I don't want to lose but I'm also not already in love with them. I listen to this playlist often and the ones that stick in my head and become favorites are transferred to another playlist.

The final playlist home for my favorite songs are seasonal playlists that I title with a theme and the date. Something like "Get Empowered Spring 2018" or similar. The themes I pick usually have nothing really to do with the types of songs that end up in the playlist, they're mostly just what I want that season to hold for me personally. I continue to do this throughout the season, so eventually I'll end up with a playlist in which I'm super sick of the first songs that I've listened to a lot but not of the newer ones I may have added in like the last week. When this happens, I start a new playlist for the new season and transfer the songs I'm still loving into the beginning of the new playlist and the circle of life continues. 

I really like this method for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's really easy for me to pick what to listen to because I mostly just listen to my seasonal playlist unless I want to go exploring. Secondly, I'm able to see which songs I really love by which ones persist through multiple playlists, like "I Wanna Get Better" by Bleachers or "From Eden" by Hozier. They have the real longevity and I love that, especially because sometimes it's the songs I wouldn't expect are the ones that stick around the longest. Thirdly, I'm left with little time capsules of what music I was listening to at a certain time in my life. I can be instantly transported back to a year and a half ago, just by listening to that playlist.

I also have a few miscellaneous playlists: one for my anxiety that is full of super chill songs, one for oldies, and some from before I started this system that I still listen to and love.

-Quixotic Kid


Dear Douglas Adams,

I listen almost exclusively to Spotify, and I mostly listen to my own curated playlists, although occasionally I listen to something that Spotify recommends. I have about 4 playlists that I listen to with great regularity, although now that the Christmas season is coming I'll add my Christmas playlist into the mix (woohoo can't wait). My four main playlists are:

  • Chill: This one is mostly just guitar and vocals, with artists like Vance Joy, The National Parks, The Head and the Heart, Joshua Radin, Lord Huron, etc. This is my playlist for when I just want chill music and can't handle anything loud (like when I'm driving to work at an ungodly hour every morning).
  • Driving: I don't know how to describe what's on this playlist, because it's a weird mix of everything from The Bleachers to Coldplay to Taylor Swift to Saint Motel, but the most important thing about everything on this playlist is that it has a good beat and is good to listen to on long road trips. It's also good to listen to on my way home from work every day.
  • Oldies but Goodies: This one is pretty self-explanatory. It's got a lot of Beatles, but also classic rock ballads from the 80s, and it never fails to put a smile on my face and pep in my step.
  • Peaceful: Ah, the classic Sunday playlist. It's mostly classical music, Josh Groban, and Enya (lol).

I personally love Spotify, and paying for the premium no-ads version is pretty nice. It's fun to be able to look up pretty much any music you want to listen to whenever you want to listen to it, as well as make personalized playlists, as well as discover new music. You can also bundle it with Hulu No Ads, which I really love.



Dear Hitchhiker,

I also have a Pixel, and I primarily use Google Play Music. I've tried Spotify, but I don't like the user interface. I think Google Play Music is a little more expensive than Spotify Premium, but it does come with YouTube Premium, so that's a plus. Google Play Music does all the same things Spotify does, with the exception of allowing you to follow other people (which is a legitimately cool feature that Spotify has, and I do miss it, but not enough to switch). You can still see and use other people's playlists on Google Play Music, though. And I think it's much easier to use than Spotify.

As far as my listening habits, I organize my music with playlists. I have one giant playlist with every song in my library, and then a bunch of other small playlists that are specific to a mood, genre, event, or workflow. I'd list them, but there are about 20 of them. I download all my music, so I can access it without an internet connection. Occasionally, I'll listen to an album all the way through, or shuffle songs from a particular artist, but most of the time I just shuffle my smaller playlists.

Google also creates a bunch of "stations," kind of like Pandora (but without limits on how often you can skip). Some of them are specific to artists, some are tailored for a specific mood or event, and some are personalized to your listening habits, like Spotify's "Weekly Discover" playlists. I use the stations occasionally, but not unless I'm really in a mood to find new music.




Dear Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything,

I mainly use Spotify but sometimes I use Bandcamp or YouTube if Spotify doesn't have a particular song. You can use Spotify for free, but if you don't pay they'll ocassionally play ads between songs and you can only skip a song 6 times in an hour.

My parents bought me Spotify Premium for my birthday and it has been BEAUTIFUL. Almost all of the music I want is right there, I can download playlists and albums so I don't have to use data all the time, I can listen to it on my iPhone and computer, and Spotify curates "Weekly Discover" playlists full of songs you might like based on your listening history. Last year I spent 26,613 minutes listening to music on Spotify so for me it has been worth it. 

Sometimes I listen to one particular artist but more often I'll listen to one of my jumbled playlists. My main ones are: I want to play this (for songs I want to learn how to play on the guitar or piano), douche at the gym (for working out), Here We Go Again (my random mess of new music I've enjoyed in 2019), It's a Musical, and wedding. To explain the last playlist, even though I am COMPLETELY single, I believe that the music selection can make or break a wedding so I'm planning early. And I really like love songs, sue me. 




Dear So Long And Thanks For All The Fish,

I listen to Spotify on the app (and though I have an iPhone, Spotify is also available on Androids). I have a few playlists put together that I really like, and then I'll listen to the radios that Spotify suggests for me. Oh, and I should probably mention that I have Spotify Premium. I first got it as a student when it was super cheap, and like it so much that even though it costs more now I'm no longer a student, it's still worth it to me.



Dear Douglas Adams,

I use Spotify. I used to pay for it when I had a student account, but now that I'm not a student I've reverted back to the ads. While I have a playlist of all my liked songs, I'll often listen to playlists Spotify makes (one of my favorites is "Have a Great Day!"). The main reason I switched from my own downloaded music on my iPhone to Spotify was because I liked a lot of the newer music and I couldn't afford to buy it all. Spotify is a free/cheap way to listen to whatever whenever.

A positive about Spotify: you can make your own playlists. That way you can still listen to the songs/playlists you like whenever you like. A negative about Spotify: if you do this free you'll get ads, only be able to skip a certain number of songs each hour, you can't choose a specific song to play, and may get a random "this is totally like your music I swear you'll like this" song thrown in. Since this doesn't bother me too much, I've decided to save $10 a month and suffer through the ads and drawbacks. Quick tip: if you're doing Spotify free, have a lot of playlists you like. That way if a song comes on that you don't like and you can't skip it, just jump to another playlist. Also you can pick the individual song you want to play if you go to your Daily Mixes. And pro tip: Daily Mixes and Discover Weekly are playlists made for you based off your music choices, and you can actually find some new music there that you really like. I've discovered some new songs that way that are now some of my favorite songs.

-guppy of doom


Dear reader,

I actually don't listen to music all that much, but I thought I'd add that I often use Amazon Prime Music because no one else had mentioned it. I also use Spotify, but I don't pay for it, so I like using Amazon Prime (which my parents pay for) because then I can download songs, and I don't have to stream them if I'm going running or something like that. You said you're not old enough to be my mom, but perhaps you're old enough to have your own subscription to Amazon Prime, in which case you already have access to Amazon Prime Music.