Maestro: organize!

I organize. I tweak. I optimize. I categorize. And I love music.

For a few months now I’ve been feeling more and more annoyed by the anarchy reigning in my Spotify library. Time for some action! However, I need a system.

Why do I bother my handful of readers with this? Heck, I don’t know; feel free to skip this series of short posts about my playlists. Why do I bother at all writing this? Because I have no clue yet how to organize my music. Perhaps writing down my options will help…. organize my thoughts.

First things first: which feature to use for organizing things? The “Your Music” feature of Spotify is useful and useless at the same time. It is just one big bucket for all your saved songs and albums, to be browsed only by artist or album. With 1000s of “my songs” this won’t be all too useful. I will be using that feature some 10% of the time for finding music, but for the other 90% I need a different system. Why? Because I tend to decide on a “type” of music before I choose an album or a song.

Playlists” are the other option, as Spotify so humbly tells us:

Playlists are collections of tracks you can build for moods, events, etc. And since you can make as many playlists as you like, the only limit is your imagination.

Currently, my setup for playlists is along these lines:

Spotify Playlists

There are several minor problems with this system:

  • The “divider” playlist is an ugly little hack.
  • The duplication (every genre appears twice, once as “songs” and once for “albums”) bothers me.
  • The names for others’ playlists are not at all informative.
  • The list can become quite long (20+ genres times 2 makes 40+ entries).

Then there are some bigger problems with this system:

  • This system lets me find an album by genre, but still requires me to scroll through a lot of songs to find an album I want.
  • Within a genre there can be big differences (some broader genres are more prone to this problem), so just randomly playing songs from a certain list is not an option.

Or, let me put it more bluntly:

  • I can’t quickly find shit.
  • The effect of a shuffled playlist is shit.

Okay, that helped. Now I know what my problem is. Time to try a new system for size. Or perhaps, given that I have two problems, I should have two systems?

Programming music

Lying is useless: I’m addicted… to music. Just about whatever I do, I will have music in the background. Especially when I’m working on the computer: programming, photo-shopping, video-editing, gaming all require music.

Different activities and varying times of day require different types of music for me. Luckily, I enjoy just about all kinds of music. The growing popularity of Spotify has driven both and radio from my favorites, and allows me to pick just about anything I want to hear.

This brings us back to the topic of this post then (hope no-one was expecting a guide on how to program music on some device), music for programming duties! I realized I put on certain types of music whenever I’m in a certain type of zone. So here’s a go at my music choice per programming task.

Task Music Genre
Creating C# interfaces, designing server side code Dubstep or Classical Music
C# code (or any server side code, for that matter) Any album that’s very familiar, e.g. Homework
Database design & SQL queries (SELECTs) Electro, Hardstyle, or even some old Gabber tunes
SQL UPDATEs and DELETEs Ambient or downbeat
CSS and HTML (skinning and the like) 90s dance or dirty house
Debugging a difficult problem Classical music or Gregorian chants
Creating wireframes More dubstep
Excel formulas and VBA macros Death Metal or Industrial Powernoise
Footnote: recently ghettofunk has been a great fallback for any programming task. Stickybuds!

Hopefully I’ll be able to look back at this post some time in the future and create an updated overview. Perhaps this will even inspire someone to up a music-programming cross table of their own. If you do: let me know!