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The 365 Albums Project is over, I loved it, and I'll never do it again

Posted by Matt Birchler
โ€” 6 min read
The 365 Albums Project is over, I loved it, and I'll never do it again
This is just 2/3 of the albums posted!

I did it! 365 albums in 365 days!*

You can see all the posts on the blog here and you can add a playlist with one song from almost every album on the list on Apple Music.

Retrospective

Starting November 19, 2022, I started posting one album everyday to this blog. I called it the 365 Albums Project, and I did it mainly because I've been doing this blogging thing for over a decade and wanted to do something new. I love music, and my carve out on the internet doesn't usually have a good outlet for sharing all the music I enjoy, so I guess I decided to get it all out at once. As I said in that intro post:

I don't expect anyone to listen to everything I post, but I hope some will catch your eye and you'll try them out, and others will remind you of things you haven't listened to in ages and you can enjoy again.

I seriously doubt anyone listened to everything, but based on the thousands of likes and hundreds of comments I got from people over the past year, it's been one of my most popular things I've ever done on the site. The most common comment I got from posting these was something to the effect of, "OMG I haven't listened to this in years, but I put it on after this post and god, I still love it!" Those posts warmed my soul, and I got more of those than I ever expected over the last year.

Not everybody loved it, and that's fine. I will say I went out of my way to make sure I formatted the titles and tags on these posts exactly the same each time so people who weren't into it could filter them out using their RSS service. Here's how you would do it with Inoreader:

And here's in Feedbin:

Not all RSS services have filtering tools (although if you use RSS I highly suggest using one that does), but the good news is you don't have to filter anything anymore ๐Ÿ˜‰

The work

A year ago I went through my Apple Music library, which I've been accumulating since like 2001 when iTunes was getting off the ground, and made a Notion database with every album I could possibly want to post in this series. I recorded the album's:

  • Title
  • Artist
  • Release Year
  • Link on Odesli

Then at the end of each month I would go through and select the 30/31 albums I was going to post the next month, assign them a date. You might be wondering if the order had any reason to it, and the answer is usually no, but sometimes absolutely yes. Here's few intentional picks:

  • Dec 1-25: my 25 favorite albums of 2022 (in no particular order)
  • Feb 14: 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields because obviously
  • Apr 1: U2's Songs of Innocence, which I didn't have to link to because everyone already has it in their Apple Music collection ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Jun 6: Plans by Death Cab, which was one of the first records my wife and I bonded over when we met. June 6 is our anniversary.
  • Jul 22-24: Taylor Swift albums while I was in Seattle for The Eras Tour

Once I had my picks for the next month, I'd create a new Sketch document where I'd create the header image for each post.

This was pretty manual, and I would copy/paste in the artist name, album title, and release year into Sketch, and then I'd drag in the album art from the Odesli listing. The backgrounds were a lot of fun to put together, and they were made mostly with assets from ls.graphics. I tried to use a background that matched the tone and compliment the art of each record, but a small portion of albums suited themselves to some bespoke work, such as the ones below.

I could have made the transition on this one smoother, tbh
Nailed it
I might be most proud of this one
One of the few where I completely recreated the album art from scratch
I used Photoshop to generatively fill the right side of the image
Simple but one of my favs
Also simple, but I think it works
I think I just nailed this one
Another one I created from scratch
CRJ always deserves custom art

Creating the header images was easily the biggest time suck in the whole process, and this took maybe an hour or two each month to do. Not a ton of time in the grand scheme of things, but definitely not nothing.

Then I had to post to my blog, which would have been insanely time consuming as well, but I automated with one of the slickest Keyboard Maestro automations I've ever made. It's hard to explain in text, so here's a video I made a few months ago showing it in action. It's wild, but it saved me many hours over the year, and is one of the many examples of why I love automation so much.

Will I do this again?

Absolutely not.

I loved doing this once, but that's enough. According to Letterboxd, I've rated 266 movies 4 stars of higher (out of 5), although I could get close to 365 if I included all my 3.5 star reviews as well. I could probably get to around 200 video games I'd recommend as well, but honestly I think music was better-suited to this sort of constant wave of recommendations. Most people can see a music recommendation and try it out instantly without paying a dime, whereas movies and games would require people to pay up and make considerable time commitments to try out themselves.

And honestly, it's just too much work. I automated it as well as I could, but it still took hours every month and while I'm happy I stuck with it and have this kind of unprecedented collection of posts to show for it, I'm also relieved that it's over.

It really made my day every time someone told me they discovered something new or that they were reminded of an old classic they hadn't listened to in forever. I think blogging is often a way to complain about how things are in the world, and it was nice to have a series (a long series) that was 100% good vibes the whole way through. Thank you, everyone who followed along!


*Technically, I posted 366 albums and I did miss a few days at one point. Due to the manual process listed above, I did make one mistake of having two posts scheduled to go up on the same day, and there was one time where my scheduled posts ran out and I hadn't done the next batch yet, so I had to post about 5 albums in one day to catch up. I'm my own boss on this site, though, so I'm going to say I still nailed it.