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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Deleting the Music You No Longer Listen To


Are you actually going to listen to that Ricky Martin album again? Then why is it still on your iPod? Why do you keep music you haven’t listened to in years? Do you keep it just in case?

I certainly used to.

Once upon a time, I owned more than 2,000 CDs. This is no surprise to the people who know me well. I’m an auditory learner—which is the reason why most of my writing has a run-on-ish, out-loud, tumbling-words auditory pace and cadence—and music has played a significant role in shaping my life.

Because my music was important to me—because it added immense value to my life—I transferred all my CDs (literally all 2,000 of them) one by one to my iTunes library, until my full-belly hard drive was bloated with more than 20,000 songs, from A-HA (hey, no laughing!) to ZZ Top and everything in-between.

Music is a special art form. It’s different from movies or television or even books. Music is created to be consumed more than once, absorbed over time, shaping itself to your conscious after many listens. Movies and books are generally created to be consumed once (maybe twice), not repeatedly. That’s why I advocate getting rid of old movies and old books.

But today, I’d also like you to consider getting rid of some of your music.

Recently, I deleted 80% of the music in my iTunes library. How did I select what to delete? I spent a few hours shuffling through my albums, starting at the top (yes, if you’re wondering, A-HA was the first to go). I deleted everything I hadn’t listened to in the last six months. Billy Joel: gone. Guns ‘N’ Roses: gone. Cory Hart: mostly gone, although “Sunglasses at Night” is still there.

All that’s left is the good stuff—the music I enjoy listening to. Now, my iTunes library is easier to navigate, it’s clutterfree, and it’s filled with music I love: The National, David Gray, Talib Kweli, et al.

How much of your music is in the way of the good stuff?

Additional reading: Joshua Fields Millburn’s Top 10 Albums of 2011.