The Great iTunes Purge

Last night, I decided to take a couple of hours and purge my iTunes library.

I started with 16,716 songs. That’s a cumulative 129.23 GB of music, which would take 64 days to listen to from start to finish.

By the time I reached the end of my library, I had whittled it down to 12,170 songs. I deleted almost 40 GBs of music. Now it would only take me 44 days to listen to my entire collection. Decent.

How’d I do it? Songs and artists I don’t like, but had some how acquired (Taylor Swift): gone. Songs I don’t mind, but would never consciously decide to listen to (Aerosmith): gone. I kept artists who I’m interested in, but haven’t gotten around to listening to yet, and I obviously kept all my favorite artists.

So, why the merciless deletion?

For one, I’m working toward being able to get all my music on my iPhone so I can stop carrying around both it and an iPod. Up to this point, the iPhone’s 32 GB hard drive has been too small for me to comfortably fit everything; my music collection was/is too big to selectively comb through every song. My library is still pretty enormous, but with the larger hard drives coming up, an iPhone-only setup is definitely doable in the near future.

Second, I keep all of my music on a 750 GB external hard drive because I like knowing that if my computer crashes, it’s all safe and sound. I don’t miss not having my music on my laptop because I either A) have my iPod with me, or B) have access to the internet and any number of music streaming solutions, Spotify and Grooveshark chief among them. These alternatives allow me to keep my computer lean and fast; I don’t have to take up valuable hard drive space with thousands of songs, many of which I don’t listen to regularly.

I want to start backing up this drive, and the more refined my music collection is, the easier that’ll be. Deleting all of my songs-I’m-never-going-to-listen-to also frees up a considerable amount of space on my external drive, thus prolonging the time when I’ll need to upgrade to something larger. Plus, I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to finally delete Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen.

Additionally, letting go of all those never-played songs feels great. It’s easy to think that the more songs you have in your iTunes, the more sophisticated and eclectic a person you are. But the truth is, no one cares. The feeling of not having to wade through thousands of unplayed songs far outweighs the tiny bit of reassurance you might get from knowing those songs are there if you ever need them, which you probably won’t.

It was time to eliminate all of the musical clutter I’d accumulated over the years, and I recommend purging all types of files every once in a while. It feels awesome, and your computer will thank you.