🎙️ Adam Linder

🎙️ Adam Linder

This is something I’ve been working on for awhile and am excited for it to start coming together.

Inspired by Manu Moreales’ People & Blogs and WITI’s Monday Media Diet, I present to you Consumption Gumption, an interview series about how humans discover, consume, and interact with media and entertainment. I admit, the name isn’t great, but I’m sticking with it.

I’m also super excited to be able to launch this interview series with Adam Linder, the developer of the superb Albums app for iOS. Albums has been on my homescreen for years and I’ve mentioned in the past over on TIV. It’s hands-down the best way to listen to music on iOS.

So without further ado…

🎧 Adam Linderapp developer

Listens to music and podcasts; watches YouTube; reads books

Can you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Sure! I am a recovering technologist and musician who lives in Philadelphia, PA with my wife and four cats. I say “technologist” because I’ve spent pretty much my entire life sitting in front of one screen or another, making computers do things for people. I say “recovering” because I am also trying to make an active practice of spending less time sitting in front of screens. 

I work at a small startup providing data and systems consulting services to non-profits, and I’m also the developer of two music apps: Albums and a forthcoming, yet-to-be-publicly-named music discovery app.

So obviously, when it comes to music, you’re an albums guy. Has it always been that way? And how do you feel about shuffle?

I have pretty much always been that way, yeah. I love that an album is a snapshot in time for an artist — the style of music they were making, the things they were writing about, and their decision making at the time. 

I have never been a playlist listener, whether human-curated or algorithmic. I do throw on the radio in the car if I’m just running some quick errands. Maybe Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” will be on the 80s/90s/2000s station! 

I think there is a time and a place for song shuffle, although I don’t find myself doing it very often. Album shuffle — playing a queue of randomly selected full albums, one after the other — is my most common method of music listening, and the reason I originally made Albums.

How do you go about discovering new music nowadays?

Keeping up with new music is quite important to me, and I’m always looking for new stuff made by artists engaging with what it is to exist in the present. I follow music blogs and read forums like Chorus.fm and various genre-specific subreddits. I also follow musicians and music-appreciators on Twitter. If anything looks interesting, I tag it “Check Out Later” in Albums, and it’s there waiting for me when I’m ready to listen to something new.

Chorus.fm looks pretty great. I’m always looking for good places to discover smaller, indie/alterntaive bands—do you have any blog recommendations in that vein?

The Alternative is another great source for the indie/emo/hardcore side of things. smallalbums.com is another good one.

I find whenever I’m deep into podcasts, my music listening falls off a cliff, and vice versa, how do you balance your podcast listening with music?

It pretty much divides up like this: if I need to think during an activity, I can’t be listening to a podcast. I listen to podcasts doing housework, on walks, while driving, and so on. I listen to music while I’m working or dicking around on the internet. With that simple rule, I manage to consume some sort of audio almost all the time, and I am rarely alone with my thoughts! 

When you watch YouTube, are you pretty subscription driven or do you let the algorithm guide you?

I think a bit of both. Most of the channels I’m subscribed to now came via the recommendations algorithm at some point. I actually wish the algorithm would take bigger swings, rather than saying “oh, you just watched this video about X, here’s 100 more.” Most of my favorite YouTube channels are things I never would have gone looking for. 

Can you share a couple of your favorite podcast and YouTube subscriptions?

My podcast and YouTube subscriptions run the gamut from comedy to educational to political. I’ll structure my recommendations like that:

Comedy

Podcast: The Brett DeMott Show with Buddy - Silly bits and improv about dumb news stories

YouTube: Conner O’Malley - One of our greatest unhinged satirists 

Educational

Podcast: Decoder with Nilay Patel - Thoughtful interviews with all manner of people doing interesting things

YouTube: Branch Education - Incredible 3D visualizations explaining complicated technological concepts

Political

Podcast: In Bed With The Right - Two lefty queer academics analyzing and parsing right-wing ideas about gender and sexuality

YouTube: Natasha’s Adventures - The vlog of an early-20s Russian ex-pat starting a new life in Tbilisi, Georgia

Since Albums has a great listening history feature and integration with Last.fm, do you use anything to keep track of what you are reading in a similar manner?

I’ve been tracking my reading on Goodreads for about as long as I’ve had a Last.fm account (2005). It’s not a particularly great experience, nor do I find much value in its recommendations. I was excited to hear about the launch of StoryGraph earlier this year, and I imported all my Goodreads data. I’m hoping that site takes off so I can divest myself of yet another Amazon-related property.

What’s the last great book you’ve read and album you’ve listened to?

Two books I read recently that blew my mind were The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and a collection of Anton Chekhov’s short stories. In contrast to my prioritizing new music, I like to read older literature to remind myself that this generation didn’t invent the human condition. There’s something profound and connective to me to read a 200-year-old description of the existential angst I was feeling just the other day! 

A few of the new albums I’m excited about that I’m spinning here at the top of 2024 include Cheekface - It’s SortedR.A.P. Ferreira & Fumitake Tamara - the First Fist to Make Contact When We Dap, and Katy Kirby - Blue Raspberry. Different styles, but all music reckoning with today.

What’s something older than 10 years you think is worth people revisitng?

So many things! We have been slowly trudging our way through Star Trek: The Next Generation over the past couple of years as our after-dinner show. We watch 2 or so episodes a week and I often find myself thinking “this is just fine! Who needs big special effects budgets?” Art has been made in all mediums across every era in conversation with the constraints of the time. There’s always something to appreciate and learn from.

Lastly, when we talked ahead of time, you originally mentioned TV as something you consumed regularly, but backtracked a bit—why do you think TV has fallen out of vogue for you?

Yeah, I realized that my assumptions about myself as a “TV” person might be a little outdated. The last show I watched as it aired was The Americans, which ended in 2018! That and Deadwood are my two favorite shows of all time. TNG is the only show I’m actually watching at the moment. I think if you looked at a pie chart of my media consumption from 10 years ago compared to today, you’d find YouTube has pretty much replaced TV. There’s something about the immediacy and specificity of YouTube that I find attractive. I think the explosion of streaming services and TV content in recent years has also been demotivating to me in terms of finding the needles in the ever-growing haystack.

Any last words or thoughts around your media consumption or the state of entertainment?

I know this is an interview about media consumption but I will also just plug the concept of silence! I joked about it earlier, but I do think it is very important to make sure to protect the time our brains aren’t soaking up media. In fact, I am about to go do a yoga nidra practice right after I finish this. Everything in balance!

Anyone you think has good taste we should interview next?

The first person who comes to mind is one of the aforementioned music-appreciators I follow on Twitter, @torontoreviewer (since this is private, you can find her online at musicfordinner.net and thingsreadinthedark.com). She’s an avid music listener and reader, and someone who has definitely enriched my feed over the years. 


Huge thanks to Adam for being my guinea pig in this interview series.

I especially loved this line from Adam:

Art has been made in all mediums across every era in conversation with the constraints of the time. There’s always something to appreciate and learn from.

Really excited about the roster of people I’ve got lined up for future editions as well.

See you back here on Monday.


foofaraw s3 playlist

*book links are affiliate links—never done this before, but figured, why not??

*consumption gumption banner designed by Andy Carolan