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i wanted to share a playlist that is the spiritual successor of comfort radio in a lot of ways: "Megamix" - 3243 tracks & growing it contains the set of tracks that were:
- posted to the comfort music blog over six years' time
- posted to the much preferred customers tumblr over three years' time
- included on any mix CD or mix compilation or notable playlist i made over the last 20 years
- miscellaneous noteworthy tracks that i accumulated outside of those touch points narrowed by:
- vigorous ongoing removal of tracks that haven't aged well or were dubiously included in the first place
- the rhapsody catalog, which is huge but has minor gaps so it sort of solves for the fatal flaws that eventually dragged comfort radio down for me as a listener, which were a) album focused curation instead of track focused curation, and b) an unbounded collection model that continually dispersed the best stuff in service of breadth of variety, instead of narrowly focusing on the quality of each possible track in the mix. plus as a consumer, you have a skip button here; it's easily accessible on mobile; etc. if you save a copy of the megamix playlist as your own, you can then obviously delete stuff you don't like, but your copy won't pick up any updates made to the original. perhaps better to cherry pick from it versus cloning it outright. also, if you just want this same type of curation but narrowly focused by year, i keep several "eclectic" playlists, organized by release date. so for instance, even in 2016, if i discover a great track that was released in 2014, it goes into the 2014 playlist (and everything also goes into the megamix playlist). "Eclectic 2016"
"Eclectic 2013" more music nerdery: it's called "megamix" because back in the year 1999, you may remember i was running a startup that tried to do internet radio. in 2000, we won the SXSW interactive award for best streaming audio for our stations, one of which was a flagship station called "the megamix". i think at one point we had two or three stations with over a hundred concurrent listeners around the clock, and then a handful that attracted like 15 listeners each. totally negligible by today's standards, and we failed in part because we were too stubborn to use windows media and nobody knew how to serve audio ads into a shoutcast stream yet. (for reference, pandora was founded in 2000.) during my first year camping with the church of mez at burning man, someone set up a music server in the main comfort tent that played wall to wall horrible techno. just, crap that made me suicidal. so the following year, i volunteered to take it over. i wiped it clean, then ported over all the music from the megamix and our other popular stations (our most popular actually was an ambient station), and created day-parted playlists to run on that server - a jazzy/downtempo afternoon shift, a dance/trippy night shift, and an ambient/drone graveyard shift. i think it ran in camp like that for maybe two years. somewhere in there, llew set up comfort radio back home, where we eliminated the dayparts, threw out the drone music, and smashed up all the rest of it into one giant playlist. we constantly added albums to it over the years in giant batches, and almost never removed anything, which for a long while was deeply enjoyable for me but increasingly maddening for others i think. meanwhile llew & i started the comfort music blog in 2004; he set up a movable type instance and a file server, and i started posting & doing light promotion. for reference, the grandfather of all music blogs is widely considered to be fluxblog, which started in 2002 but hit its stride in 2003; and comfort music was considered to be part of the class that came along immediately behind fluxblog. so, from 2004 to 2010 i was blogging 5 times a week, usually 2-4 tracks per post. the idea was, highlight the best tracks from the best albums that we were adding to rotation on comfort radio (which anyone could theoretically discover via the sidebar on the blog); hence, comfort music. this led to some fun times and minor bragging rights. we put up several tracks by the postal service right at the exact moment they went big, which demolished our bandwidth, for instance. everyone knows gotye's big hit "somebody that i used to know" but few realize it came from his second album; a year earlier, i had posted three tracks from his first album (which is the kind of keen foresight that has obviously made a huge difference on my quality of life). my first takedown notice came from radiohead, although usually if we heard from an artist or a label, it was them saying thanks for promoting their music. most frequently what we heard of course was absolutely nothing. we were in the first wave of blogs indexed by the hype machine, if that set of buzzwords means anything to you. we posted actual mp3s despite the ostensible copyright violation because a) all us bloggers felt like we were doing more promotional good than copyright bad by sharing select tracks and talking about them; and b) there weren't viable alternatives at the time. i took a break from blogging in 2010 for a while because it was exhausting trying to find something unique to say five times a week (i was writing mini album reviews really), and crafting html blog posts & manually linking to uploaded mp3 files was tedious. three years later, i jumped back in via tumblr, now fully equipped with embedded youtube, soundcloud, bandcamp, vimeo, all on the up and up. youtube launched in 2005; soundcloud in 2007; but back when i was blogging the first time, labels didn't take these platforms seriously. they certainly do now. much preferred customers posts a single track or video a day, five days a week, with zero commentary; it's so much easier, even if it's more opaque. it certainly has as many followers as comfort music had at its peak (which let's be clear is a small number regardless). the coolish thing is that because i was blogging back in the early days, i've been on promoter / label / artist lists for over a decade now. people send me countless albums and tracks and streams and videos, which gmail helps me filter down to a firehose i can mostly keep an eye on. non-mainstream artists got a lot more proficient at video along the way, too, which is how i developed a secondary hobby of collecting the best music videos that go by. even in that break between comfort music and much preferred customers, i was collecting music in rhapsody playlists called "comfort music" broken down by year; the impulse never went away. and of course, working at rhapsody is its own separate firehose of music discovery. last march, i passed the ten year mark of continuous employment there. along the way i subscribed to niche music services like emusic, daytrotter, lala, and lately drip.fm (subbed to domino records, ghostly international, and ninja tune); closely followed sites like pigeons & planes, xlr8r, and the dearly departed RCRD LBL (sadly pitchfork is too much of a firehose itself to look at any longer); & tuned into a couple hours of KEXP each week; all to deepen the discovery experience i was already immersed in. anyway, all of that is to say that the "megamix" playlist is for me an unexpected distillation of nearly twenty years of continuously curating music. obviously it has an extra layer of meaning for me for the reasons i described above, but it's also clearly just a playlist in the sense that any given track is still most likely to be just beats and a chick singer or whatever. however, after auditioning the megamix for months prior to sending this email, it's also the best iteration of "let's plug in scotto's ipod" i've come up with so far. it should be played only on shuffle; there is no intentional sort order. i wanted to share this narrative because it feels like this is a slice of my life that is largely invisible except in the most superficial ways, even though it's a fairly defining force in my personality. also, here is my best sleepytime ambient playlist: "Logic of Dreams" mix cheers,
scotto p.s. i don't plan to make a spotify version of the megamix playlist, because reasons. p.p.s. i do however hope to export the megamix out to a shoutcast station someday! 4/25/16
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