March 1, 2013 at 12:24 pm

How to Keep Streaming Music on ‘National Day of Unplugging’

national day of unplugging 2013I am all for unplugging from the internet and technology, from time to time. As I sat on a porch watching at the ocean a couple of summers ago, I reached for my phone to rewind the scene to show someone a ship that had passed. When something like that happens, it’s time to unplug.

However, there are at least two silly things about “National Day of Unplugging,” which takes place this weekend. It actually occurs on two days this year — from sundown on Saturday to sundown on Sunday. We can deal with that — after all, our beloved Music Hack “Days” also typically take place during the same approximate timeframe.

However, there’s another problem with this. What, pray tell, are we supposed to listen to on Saturday night and all day Sunday, assuming we don’t have the luxury of acoustic minstrels following us around in the world, and chamber musicians serenading us at home?

According to the direct implications of the image to the right, we’re not even allowed to plug in a record player. Other than the king of all hipsters, nobody’s going to be able to play records. What fresh hell is this?

Fortunately, you can participate in National Day of Unplugging and keep the music going — using streaming music services, no less. The key: offline playback. All of the major music subscriptions — as well as one of the radio services (Slacker) let you store music on your phone — similarly to the way you do with the music purchased from iTunes or downloaded from blogs. We’re too busy to write tutorials for all of them, so let’s try this with Rdio:

1. Subscribe.

You can’t use the mobile version of any of the major music subscriptions without paying a monthly fee.

2. Go to an album or playlist.

I’m going with Tame Impala’s excellent Lonerism. You can pick any playlist, album, or song, on any of the on-demand services, because they don’t need weird licensing to let you do this, the way internet radio stations do.

3. Hit the Plus button.

See that little Plus icon next to the album in the image above? Tap that.

This varies by service; with Spotify, you would make this album into a playlist, then designate that as available offline.

4. Choose Sync to Mobile.

Back on the album screen, tap Sync to Mobile to store the album or playlist on your phone or tablet.

5. Go Offline.

This is what National Day of Unplugging is all about — except you won’t be doing it in silence. In the Rdio settings menu, select the Go Offline option at the bottom. The other apps have similar options, as does Apple’s own Music app, in case you want to use that too. The idea here is to let you see only the music that’s available for offline playback, which simplifies things greatly.

Just remember to charge that phone on Saturday afternoon, and you’re good to go.

  • Anonymous

    or you could just dig out your CDs, records, and tapes. You didn’t sell or donate them all, did you?

  • Jeff

    Got a wind powered CD player?