Consider Ditching Music You’ll Never Listen To Again

Consider Ditching Music You’ll Never Listen To Again

The Australian’s music writer Iain Shedden has proposed that this Saturday should be Australian Throw Out Albums You’ll Never Listen To Again Day. Is it time for your music collection to get a clean-out?

Shedden reached that conclusion after encountering a copy of Kate Bush’s 1982 album The Dreaming in his collection, and realising that he couldn’t imagine any circumstances where he would listen to it again. As he said: “Once that criteria had been set, there was no going back.”

Initially, that idea filled me with horror — but largely because The Dreaming is one of my favourite albums of all time. Once I’d reminded myself sternly that everyone is entitled to differing tastes, then it actually seemed a sensible idea to consider. Clutter is a constant problem in modern life; as we often say around here, there’s no sense in hanging onto things that you’re never going to use again.

Of course, the problem is much more pronounced with physical music (LPs and CDs and, for those of us of a certain age, cassette tapes) than it is with MP3 or FLAC files. No matter how large your collection of digital music, these days you can fit it on a drive that’s pretty much the same size as a CD. (You could theoretically hold onto the drive and give away or sell the CDs, but you’d be breaking both the letter and the spirit of Australian copyright law, which allows format shifting but presumes you will hang onto the original.)

With all that said, having given it some thought, I’m not going to be clearing out my own music collection this weekend. I’ve ditched a lot of other stuff in recent years, and right now I’m satisified that my physical music collection is still meaningful and utilised. But it was worth giving some thought to the subject. (It was also worth listening to The Dreaming again.)

Could you imagine disposing of albums you’ve purchased because you’ve realised you just won’t ever listen to them again? Tell us all in the comments.


  • Not a chance. How many times at a party or bbq and someone mentions a song and you can say yeah I have that here somewhere.

    Once that happens then everyone seems to get into finding songs in your collection they like but forgot.

    • For that sort of occasion, I use grooveshark. Anybody at the party can wander up to a laptop and add whatever they want to the playlist, and it has a far wider selection of music than I’d be able to keep handy ‘just in case’.

  • When I bought CDs, I sold 2nd hand the ones I never listened too. Now that I have a lot of digital-only music, the bar is higher, not because of space but because I can’t sell what I decide to delete. Even so, I delete tracks I hate from albums I’ve bought, and unsync from my iPod songs that I only like hearing occasionally, in just the right mood.

  • I’ve been thinking about doing this because my collection does take up more room than I’d like but I can’t bring myself to do it. I know I can always find it on lastfm or somewhere for free but I go through phases of listening to old stuff.

  • I ripped all my CD’s (about 700) in a lossless format, then stuffed them all into a couple of plastic storage boxes which are stored under the house. The music takes up about 200 gigabytes on my hard drive and the same again on an external backup drive. I used to have my CD’s insured for $15000, but don’t bother any more. I also invested in a high quality sound card ($199), so the music sounds better than from a top of the line CD player. Everything is instantly accessible and there’s no real need to throw anything out. My kids love browsing my music library for retro music that I’ve forgotten existed (like Kate Bush).

  • I’ve been thinking about clearing out my digital music collection for a while now… sure, it doesn’t take up any physical space, but when I put it on shuffle, it often comes up with stuff I don’t feel like using. I’m thinking I might move all the stuff I don’t listen to that much to an external drive, and just keep a trimmed-down library on my computer.

  • I think of it as liberating them. Allow them to go to someone who will listen to them. Our community radio station has a book and record sale that rsoses a lot of money.
    Tho come to think of it, I have only done this with CDs. LPs have too much sentimental value. Scratches and all.

  • I didn’t know you weren’t allowed to sell old CDs in Aus…

    I sold about 20 rap CDs, that I had held onto since I was a kid, earlier this year and got $150 on eBay to a second-hand music store for them… woops.

    • Selling them is fine — ripping them then selling them is not (in a legal sense; odds of actually getting busted seem slight, I admit).

  • I found that my SONOS system couldn’t actually index all of my digital collection (that’s what 30 years of CD buying will do to you) so I had to start doing something about it. With at least half my collection being classical music there’s a certain “reference library” status, but I had to own up to the simple fact that the inconvenience of having to browse through so much stuff I didn’t listen to regularly was much more painful than not having instant access to everything.

    I started moving old stuff into a shadow hierarchy that doesn’t get indexed or dilute the browsability of the main collection.

  • The stuff you never listen to – especially on vinyl – is the stuff you should keep. That way you can pull it out when you’re talking about bad music choices, to remind yourself you had shocking taste at times. Plus, it will be like explaining 8 tracks to the kids one day.

  • While I keep my top ten “desert-island discs” as MP3s on all my computers (for instant access), and have downloaded a few albums online, once I’ve established that I like an album I purchase it on CD.
    Only after a few years of neglect do I reluctantly consider removing discs from my collection, and even then they are placed into a stack where they need to be listened to three times before abandonment. Usually they are given away to friends.

  • I basically have no attachment to physical media any more having lost my CD collection a few times over.

    My digital collection though I did feel the need to cull. It got to the stage where there was so much crap you couldn’t just browse any more – you had to know what you were looking for.

    I just separated the stuff I listen to now – maybe 30% of the total and put it in another folder. I told Windows that that folder was now my music library and to ignore the other folder.

    This way the old stuff is still there and easily playable – it’s just not in my library.

  • I use iTunes’ star rating to indicate not the quality of the song, but how frequently I’d like to hear it: 5 stars is an all-time fave (has to have been around for years), 4 is for so hot right now, 3 for yeah I like it, 2 for stuff I want to keep but don’t want in main playlist (Christmas music, etc), and 1 for delete. Every so often I clear out the 1 star playlist – maybe I should ditch the CDs that don’t have anything above 3 stars on them.

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