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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 Music

Are you actually going to listen to that Ricky Martin album again? Really? Why are you keeping music you haven’t listened to in years? Do you keep it ‘just in case’?

I certainly did.

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

Because music is important to me—because it adds 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 hard drive was teeming with more than 20,000 songs, from a-ha (hey, no laughing!) to ZZ Top and everything in-between.

Music is a unique art form: it is different from movies, television, or books—music is created to be consumed more than once, absorbed over time, shaping itself to your consciousness after many listens; movies and books are generally created to be consumed once (maybe twice), not repeatedly. Hence why I encourage purging old movies and old books.

And today, I want you to consider purging some of your music.

I recently deleted 80% of the music in my iTunes library: I spent a few hours shuffling through my albums, and I deleted everything I hadn’t listened to in the last six months (yes, if you’re wondering, a-ha was the first to go). Billy Idol: gone. Guns N’ Roses: gone. Corey Hart: mostly gone (“Sunglasses at Night” survived the cut).

Now my iTunes library is easier to navigate, it’s clutter-free, and it’s filled only with music I love: The National, David Gray, Talib Kweli, et al. Plus, with Apple Music, Spotify, and other streaming services, I have unlimited access to the old songs if I want to wax nostalgic.

So—how much of your music is in the way of the good stuff?

Listen to some of my favorite music.