Music listening routine

Tell me how you organize the process of listening to music: demos coming to the label and just new releases in different genres. Do you listen on the speakers or on headphones? Do you multitask it with other things (like replying to emails and doing social media stuff)? Do people around you complain about the constant “boom-boom”? How do you manage to stay focused on the music to listen to all the tracks thoroughly?

Nikolay Glazyrin

Thanks for asking. I honestly don’t know how it could be helpful to anyone, but I’d be happy to share.

Listening to demo recordings

First let me tell you about the demos. The demos come in an endless stream of about 30 to 100 emails a week to the label. To reply to all of them at once as they appear in the inbox means to be constantly distracted and waste attention, and I try to work in a concentrated way. Moreover, some tracks are so bad that I can’t listen to them just in the background :-) That’s why for some time I put emails into a special pile and then answer them all at once – it’s more productive that way.

Read about A&R duties

Speaking of email, I use HEY. There you can literally click Reply Later on emails and then respond to them all at once in  “Focus & Reply” mode. It really helps. HEY is cool in general, maybe I’ll tell you more about it later.

Listening to music

Now about listening to music in general. I have two listening modes, as I call them: passive and active.

Passive mode is when I listen to music in the background, doing my own thing. I used to listen to Soundcloud, Apple podcasts, radio stations, and YouTube, but now 95% of my background listening happens on Spotify because everything is more convenient and there’s a better chance of finding something good.

Usually, I turn on some suggested playlist on Spotify or a “Song radio” based on a track I like and go about my business in comfort. I don’t concentrate on the music in any special way, which is exactly why I call this kind of listening mode “passive” – something is playing, and that’s fine.

As soon as I notice something cool playing, I press ⌥+space and <3 – this is the system-wide shortcut I made to automatically “like” tracks, i.e. to save them in my collection. And then it’s also broadcast to the Telegram channel. It’s faster than switching between applications and clicking on the tiny “heart” next to the track’s name.

A heart, kind of. Alfred app

The automation is set up with Alfred app and the Spotify Mini Player script. Alfred is fantastic, maybe someday I’ll tell you about it too.

This way I listen to music for about ten hours a day, so I happen to find quite a lot of interesting stuff. I usually play background music through my speakers.

Of course, not all music suits the background, especially if you need to work thoughtfully: for example, I find it hard to do with hard techno, but I’m okay with progressive house or chillout.

Active mode is when I’m purposefully looking for something: a track with the right tempo and key, a new release from a particular artist or other releases from a particular label. It’s important to hear the details, so I often listen with headphones while actively searching.

I used to use the Beatport Pro desktop app for this, but since the beginning of 2021, it has been discontinued. Now I use the Beatport website, even though it is much slower and more limited than the app, plus old-good Spotify.

I only need to listen to a track for about five seconds to know if it’s a good fit. This is a very highly concentrated listening mode in terms of the amount of new musical information per unit of time, so I can’t listen like that for a long time – two or three hours at the most. It’s important to take breaks, otherwise, my ears get soaked and I might miss something interesting. During the breaks, I either go back to background listening or get away from the computer altogether and switch to something else: running (also with music, of course), eating or sleeping.

Luckily, I don’t cause any trouble for the surrounding people, not anymore :-)

A new studio!

Fellow readers, where and how do you listen to music?

 526   2021   Advice   JOOF   Productivity

Since 2015, I’ve run an advice section giving my experience and answering readers’ questions on music production, DJing, performing, marketing, management, and other aspects of the music industry. The purpose of the series is to spread knowledge and cultivate professionalism in the music industry. The advice series works simply: you send me your questions, and I answer them with a blog post when I have something relevant to say. Send me your questions via the form.

© Daniel Sokolovskiy, 2024
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