Goodbye to the Gallimaufry

New music tracking with Numu

Numu is a website and iOS app for tracking new music releases which seems a spiritual successor to RecordBird. As previously noted, I have tried to use Apple Music to manage this over the past few months but it’s not the ideal tool. I stumbled across the Numu iOS app as I was finishing that previous article and I’ve had a little time to use it in the meantime.

The Numu iOS app connects to your Apple Music or Spotify music library and builds a list of artists whose releases you want to track. I only use Apple Music, so I granted it access to my library and waited for the import to finish. The process took a while and ended with a crash, but it seems it was complete, perusing my list of artists.

Once the app launched again, Numu showed me all releases from artists in my library. I’m not sure how far into the past the list goes, but I’ve scrolled back as far as 2009, so it’s certainly not just the past few years. The releases remain in the list until you mark them as listened. The types of items displayed (albums, singles, EPs etc.) can be customised from Settings.

Numu also allows you to manage the artists it tracks. An Artists tab displays all the musical artists you’re following, sorted alphabetically or by date of last release. A quick swipe allows you to remove an artist from your following list. To add a new artist, however, an item from that artist must appear in your music library. Numu can then rescan your library, find the new artist and add it to your list – without adding previously removed artists.

Numu was created by Brad Root and is completely open source (both the iOS app and the Django backend application). The data which powers the application comes from another free and open source project, MusicBrainz so it’s no surprise to find this statement:

Numu Tracker does not work with advertisers and does not sell information to any third parties under any circumstances.

I had concerns about the reliability and sustainability of Numu, as well as its business model when I first discovered it. Since reading about how it was built, those concerns have been allayed. This purpose-built solution to tracking new music releases will doubtless be more effective than the gallimaufry I relied on in Apple Music.

21 March 2019