Analysis

How to easily keep track of everything you're streaming

These two apps will help you manage your overflowing movie, music, and TV lists

I started Netflix's show about the birth of hip-hop, The Get Down, when it first debuted in August 2016. Six months later, I haven't even finished the first six episodes — not because it wasn't good, but because it got lost among all the other shows and movies I'm watching. Sound familiar?

Netflix, HBO, FX, and Hulu each have fantastic films and series (shout out to Stranger Things, Westworld, Atlanta, and Seinfeld), but they're unique to their services. And without a master queue, you can easily lose track of everything you're streaming.

The solution to this first world problem is, of course, an app. There are plenty out there, but my favorite is Soon. (We'll get to a music-focused app shortly.)

Self-described as "the everyday bucket list," Soon can keep track of all types of things, from movies and podcasts to museums and cafes. But it works especially well for digital media.

Inside the app, you can search for shows you're watching, add them to your list, and, once you've finished them, mark them as done. Beyond the simplicity of keeping a to-do list, Soon also highlights trending content and features a curated section to surface new items you might have missed. And if you're into the whole friends thing, you can connect Soon to Facebook and keep track of what your friends are watching. It's not revolutionary, but it's a solid product that's well-designed and easy on the eyes.

On the music side, Record Bird is the solution you're looking for. It's the music app I've always wanted for surfacing new songs from all the bands in my music library. And it works better than anything else out there.

It used to be much simpler to keep track of all the music in your collection when it cost $10 to add a new album or artist. But with all-you-can-listen-to music subscriptions, your music library has probably grown exponentially. And even though Apple and Spotify know which artists are in your library, they've yet to fully embrace detailed information about new music from your saved artists. So you might not find out for months — or ever — that a smaller artist you once loved released something new.

Enter Record Bird, which scans your Apple Music and Spotify libraries and makes note of the artists you've liked on Facebook. Then whenever those musicians put out a new song or album, it sends you a notification.

Another reason to get Record Bird is that it keeps track of artists regardless of platform. This a huge advantage when musicians increasingly release music exclusively with one service. For example, when Ryan Adams streamed his new album Prisoner on NPR's website ahead of its Feb. 17 release date, Record Bird let me know because I once liked Ryan Adams on Facebook.

Mercifully, you can also unfollow any artist automatically added, but in general, it's easy to keep up without getting overloaded with notifications. Record Bird is a simple but incredibly useful idea.

Companies like Apple and Roku are starting to catch on that keeping track of content across different services is a problem, but no one has a universal solution yet. Until then, Soon and Record Bird are your best bets.

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