Music App Stuff #10: Introducing Non-Library Tagging
Plus a bonus hot take
Let the record show, immortalized in Music App Stuff #10, that I think I’m finally starting to like The Beatles. That’s right, I cleared the cobwebs off this thing to tell you that. No, just kidding. There’s a dope new feature in Albums 4.2.7, out today, and I am excited to tell you about it. You can now add tags to albums on Apple Music that aren’t in your library! We’ll talk about that more in a second, but first let’s *ahem* get back to The Beatles.
Among my least defensible yet most strenuously argued music takes is the idea that Old Music (loosely defined as anything pre-Nevermind by Nirvana) kind of sucks. “Adam,” people throughout my life have explained to me, “the music you listen to today wouldn’t exist without the seminal artists of the previous decades birthing genres, pioneering studio techniques, and influencing future generations.” “Sure,” I say in response, “but why listen to people figuring out the pieces of the thing I like when I can already listen to the thing I like?”
Like I said, indefensible, but the kernel of truth behind it is that I really do find that most of the time when I listen to the music everyone loves from the 60s-80s, I have a hard time connecting to it. At the same time, as a Music Person, I feel like I should be enjoying it, both because I understand its objective merits, and because, y’know, everyone likes it. No band exemplifies this dichotomy for me more than The Beatles, which is why I threw on the new documentary the other night, the latest in my multi-decade series of attempts to get into the band.
What struck me most is how much of it is a chronicle of four stressed, creative people doing a thing they used to love, but not having any fun doing it. That, incidentally, explains the couple of months’ gap between this issue of Music App Stuff and the last one. I spent the summer and early fall in high gear on high stakes app stuff. When things finally settled down, something obvious dawned on me: I wasn’t having fun anymore. After some time away from working on Albums, I found myself idly coming back again and again to one idea in particular, and before I knew it, I felt the old-school spark of inspiration again.
That, at last, brings us to the reason we’re all gathered here today: tagging non-library albums. I’ve long felt the friction of not having a great workflow for keeping track of albums I want to check out. A friend might recommend an album to me, or I’d think about how I’ve been meaning to give The White Album another go. Maybe I’d just hear a Good Charlotte song on the in-store radio at the supermarket and I’d think “huh, I should listen to that first album for fun sometime.” In each of those cases, I want to listen to it, just not right now. The kicker is that I need to remember what I wanted to get around to when the mood hits.
Being able to tag albums to keep track of them without adding them to my library has totally changed my music discovery process. I’ve got a tag called “Novelties” I use to keep track of silly one-offs I know I won’t want to add to my library. I have one called “Check Out Later” I use as a staging area for recommendations, things I read about, and new releases from record labels I follow in the Release Feed. But the pièce de résistance of this feature to me is being able to paste in and bulk tag a list of albums.
If there’s any hope of me atoning for my terrible Old Music take, it’s my “Rolling Stone Top 100” tag. I want to like this stuff, and now I feel like I have a better shot. They’re all in one convenient place, and I can pick one at random when I feel like it. Honestly, I was pretty into Revolver this last time through.
We’re closing in on year-end list season, and I’m excited to also use this method to keep track of music I missed from this year. If you want to give it a try, head to Library -> Tags, create a tag, tap into it, and select “Add Albums.”
If I learned anything from watching Get Back, it’s that you shouldn’t give yourself a two week deadline and force yourself to do something you don’t want to do, so from here on out I’m going to write this thing when I’ve got something I’m excited to tell you about. Lots of good stuff brewing, so we’ll talk soon.