The Music Incentive

Nivi and I keep our music on a hard drive, connected to an old laptop, connected to the stereo. We’ve got maybe a thousand albums on there and we’re sick of every single one. Nivi recently suggested we purge all or most of them, pointing out the very very low likelihood that we’ll ever again listen to 10,000 Maniacs’ “Our Time in Eden.” I refused. You’re probably right, I said, we’ll probably die without ever listening to that album again, but you just never know, do you? What if I wake up one morning and have the inexplicable urge to hear “These Are Days”? What then?

Knowing he was fighting a losing battle with a crazy person, he suggested an alternate plan: Let’s buy more new music, for example, stuff we’re not sick of and that was made post-1995. He suggested we rotate, each person buying a new album every other month. I thought that was a great plan. So fun and spontaneous. So far he’s bought new albums by: Bon Iver, Kurt Vile, Sonny & the Sunsets, Ray LaMontagne, Girl Talk and Los Tigres del Norte.

And I’ve bought nothing. I have no incentive to buy anything when Nivi seems to be doing just fine without me, bringing home new music for us both to enjoy. I wish I had some advice for him to get me to follow through on my end of the deal, but for some reason, I’m coming up short. Anyone want to help him out?

Posted in incentives

16 Responses to The Music Incentive

  1. Katie says:

    You have all these great readers… Why not have us suggest some new music for you to buy? It sounds like you’ve outsourced half of your music spontaneity to your husband, so outsourcing the other half should be a no-brainer.

  2. jimmyc says:

    The package deal: allocation of resources and division of labor. Excellent project management!

  3. Helen says:

    I find it easier to take a leap on an album when I already like one of the songs. So, if there’s a free download, I grab it. You can always delete the track later if you hate it. The last album to benefit from this policy was The Head and The Heart, which I discovered from My Morning Download on

    Oh, and sorting my music library in Date Added order, so the newest stuff is always at the top.

  4. Tony says:

    A conspicuous absence of Pareto efficiency: Unless you regularly do something for him for which he doesn’t hold up his end of the bargain to counter your lack of weight-pulling in this particular project, your defection is practically signalling that you’ve lost interest in investing effort in your relationship. As is more than likely, he will dislike this arrangement, and it may very well be the death of the relationship. Unless, of course, you do balance the cost with something else which you’ve both agreed is a fair exchange.

  5. Marie says:

    The answer is obvious! If you don’t find a new album for your month you have to delete one. Then either way the situation gets better for Nivi, new music or less old music.

  6. Brooke says:

    Edward Sharpe, Arcade Fire, Florence and the Machine, tune-yards, Angus and Julia Stone, Kings of Leon, Phoenix, Adele, Beth Orton, Brendan Benson, Citizen Cope, Crash Kings, Tyrone Wells, Ryan Adams, Pretty Lights, Mumford and Sons, Eric Hutchinson, The Avett Brothers, Miike Snow

    That should be a random collection of somewhat new music that hopefully you’ve heard of some.

    • Paula says:

      I keep hearing about Florence and the Machine. Love these suggestions, thank you, Brooke, and my husband thanks you.

  7. Nivi says:

    great suggestions, especially the buy-one-or-delete-one concept. I think we may have to give that one a go. and for the record, my take on the best album of 2011 so far is Kurt Vile’s “Smoke Ring For My Halo” on Matador Records.

  8. Wes Chow says:

    Tough question: is it *really* important that you get to play the exact song you want at the exact time, or would you be ok with a little randomness thrown in? If you’re feeling lucky then I suggest trying out internet radio, if just to discover new stuff. The offerings these days are getting pretty decent at recommendations and other mechanisms for you to find new music. Pandora is the obvious choice, but there’s also Songza (full disclosure: I’m the lead dev for Songza). Of course I work in a biased environment, but many of the musicologists at Songza don’t buy music anymore — they assemble playlists with online services and just stream it. Services like Spotify and Rdio offer very compelling alternatives too. You get the newest stuff all the time for cheap or free, and you don’t have to physically accumulate the stuff you never listen to anymore.

  9. Tracy says:

    LOVE Adele, Ray LaMontange and Bon Iver. How ’bout some Iron and Wine, . . . or . . . .maybe some Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings? Jaymay and Feist? Hope you like.

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I’m new to your blog and loving it! Try Bill Callahan –

  11. Jacquie says:

    Well, a couple of ideas

    1) I love my satellite radio (in the car and at home) just for the new random music.

    2) Put it all in a external hard drive (or dvd) for storage

    3) Use that old computer for the (free) internet radio. (what I do at work)

    In our relationship, the BF has an extraordinary amount of obscure music that gives him pleasure to search through. That external (The book) takes up next to no space on the desk and he has his collection at his finger tip. (oh, did I mention that he used to be a radio dj and is freakish about remembering song and singer). This is an easy one to make the both partners happy.

    Now, if I could find those old LPs I got rid of 15 years ago…

  12. crissywrong says:

    I second Pandora. After listening to it for about 4 years I finally decided I was worth the 30-some bucks and paid for the upgrade. No commercials, no listening limit, just music and if I get obsessed with a particular song I can just buy it by clicking from there. Now I sound like the commercial, yuck. Whatever, I’m a big fan.

  13. Lauren says:

    Peter Bjorn and John’s “Gimme Some.” Even your kids will be clapping along. To find new music quickly (or multi-tasking I guess) – the shazam app on a phone helps, that way when you hear something you like while out and about, you can find a new artist to bring home. I think it’s cool you guys challenge each other to find something new, what a fun way to discover stuff.

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