Using Netflix for Ad-Free Background Music for Study or Work

I pay $14 per month to subscribe to Netflix, which is somewhat hypocritical as I generally try to avoid any ongoing recurring expenses because I feel that you are less likely to put scrutiny on your expenses when it is ongoing and recurring. If something is on autopilot, it is human nature to forget it. This is why “paying yourself first” and automating investing is a powerful tool. For example, if $1000 is deducted from your pay automatically and invested, you will save without effort. However, this principle works in the opposite direction, that is, if you automated your spending, you are more likely to spend more than you would otherwise.

Even though I apply this principle to e.g. phone plans (preferring instead to buy phones outright and use prepaid arrangements) I have made the exception with Netflix. There are many movies and series on Netflix that I enjoy, and if you stay home and watch Netflix, I rationalize that I am not going out and wasting money, and so Netflix is financially prudent.

Of course, you can watch videos for free e.g. YouTube, but over time I have noticed that free products have a downside in that even though you are not paying for the product, you are paying via watching advertising, and because advertising produces little revenue, the creators of free content don’t have an incentive to produce good art, and so much of the free content on the internet is simply people using it as an outlet to unload negative emotions (read the comments of most YouTube videos and you’ll understand) and being exposed to this negativity cannot be good for it. It makes sense to spend a little bit of money to shield yourself from the depravity of humanity.

Over time I have found that there are is such a variety of content on Netflix. I usually dedicate Friday or Saturday nights for Netflix, and during these times I’d watch something serious such as Ozark or Black Mirror. However, when I am eating dinner, I prefer to watch something that is not so heavy, that doesn’t require much concentration. There are many trashy docuseries that provide this e.g. Drug Lords or even Magic for Humans. However, often when I am browsing the internet, working at home, or even writing this right now, I want to listen to background music. The problem with using e.g. YouTube or Spotify is that these have ads, and having ads annoy you while you’re trying to relax is infuriating. This is why I have, of time, found various videos on Netflix that provide ad-free background music. Not only do these videos pay nice music but they also tend to have very beautiful visuals as well.

Note that many of these videos play not only music but e.g. the Slow TV videos may play long videos of train rides or firewood cutting. There are also many videos above that depict a fireplace in case you want to turn your television into a virtual fireplace without any of the mess and smoke.

Please also note that the list above applies to the Australian Netflix, and Netflix lists in other countries may vary.

What if I wanted to play specific music e.g. ambient music?

Even though I love to use Netflix as background music, there are some genres of music that I like e.g. dark ambient music and new age ambient music. These are not accessible via Netflix but they are available all over YouTube. In fact, just about all music is available on YouTube. The problem with YouTube, of course, is the advertising. However, there is an easy way to bypass this, which is to use Listen on Repeat.

Listen on Repeat allows you to set up playlists and fill them with your favourite YouTube music. Even though there is no audio advertising, there are many banner ads on the site, which clutters the sight greatly and slows it down, but at least it doesn’t ruin your music while you’re listening to it.

What if you are at work?

If I am at work and want to listen to music using my earphones, I prefer not to use Netflix, YouTube or Listen on Repeat because these sites are data intensive. Because these sites play not just music but also visuals, a considerable amount of data is used, and using a considerable amount of data at work for music may not be wise.

Thankfully there exists Public Domain Radio, which plays free public domain classical and jazz music. Because this music is old and in the public domain, there is no need to pay anyone royalties. Everything is ad-free and the site is very clean and minimalist. Beacuse it only play audio, there is little data used.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

 

Google vs Friends – Will Technology Destroy Human Interaction?

When you travel via train, everyone is on their smartphones. Everyone is connected and sedated by technology. You see it everywhere you go. Everyone is addicted to the internet.

At first, I thought this is would be a problem because people would be engrossed by what they see on the internet that they would ignore human interaction.

Over time, I have realized that the reason why so many people are investing their attention into the internet rather than in other people is simply because the internet is better than people.

Think about it. We have finite attention. We cannot look at everything, so we need to be selective about what we see. We all have different tastes and preferences. Because we have finite attention, we need to focus on what gives us the most happiness. Quite simply, the internet is better at giving us what we want compared to people. When I go to YouTube, I can bring up videos instantly that fit my interests, such as finance, dividend investing, veganism, and technology, but if I were to have coffee or dinner with a friend, they will probably have other interests.

Even if you do manage to find a friend who you can talk to who shares the same interest as you, the problem is that people can change. One minute you’re happy with them and then suddenly they become really negative people who complain about everything, and so then you need to spend less time with them because that negativity may adversely affect you. However, social situations are not as easy as the internet. On the internet, say, on the YouTube app, if there is a video you don’t like, there is a “not interested” button that you can press. YouTube then reconfigures the videos it recommends based on its best estimate of your interests.

not-interested-feature-in-youtube
If there is a video on the YouTube app you don’t like, select “not interested” and YouTube will show you fewer videos like these.

If there is someone on YouTube who makes videos that you don’t like, you can easily unsubscribe or block them. Doing something similar in a social situation is tricky, especially if these are work colleagues or family. The internet gives you what you want and it quickly adjusts if it makes a mistake. You have the power.

Socializing with people is also expensive. It differs everywhere you go, but lunch will cost you about A$15 (US$12) per person and dinner will cost you about A$25 (US$19) per person. The internet is much cheaper, practically free.

Basically, the internet, thanks mainly to innovate tech firms like Google (and even Facebook), know what you want better than your friends, and they are able to give you what you want or what you may need more efficiently than your friends can.

In this competitive capitalist world, there is a fight for our attention, and friends have competed with technology and they are starting to lose. Humans simply don’t know how to serve other humans as well as technology does.

Quit Your Job and Go to Chiang Mai?

I love YouTube. In fact, if you still watch normal TV, I highly recommend you buy a Google Chromecast, attach it to your TV, and watch YouTube instead. I watch about two to three hours of YouTube per day while I eat dinner.

If you spend a significant amount of time watching YouTube videos about veganism, entrepreneurship, minimalism, and digital nomadism (as I do nowadays), a recurring theme is that of quitting your job to work on your online business. Most likely the recommendation is that you move to a place with a low cost of living, such as Chiang Mai, the digital nomad capital of the world.

I have recently been reading The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, which is described by many as the bible of digital nomadism. This book gets mentioned frequently by digital nomads. This book seems to strongly recommend to its readers that if you don’t love your job, you must move. Two other digital nomad books I’ve read, Johnny FD’s 12 Weeks and Thailand and Life Changes Quick, seem to make similar recommendations. If you hate your 9 to 5 job, then just quit otherwise you are wasting your time, and you’re watching your employer’s time.

Of course, the advice to simply quit initially didn’t resonate with me. Everyone is different. I haven’t finished reading The Four Hour Work Week, but it’s clear based on reading the first few chapters so far that Tim Ferriss is not your average person. He has been starting companies ever since he was young and was likely already well off.

I have read all of Johnny FD’s books via Amazon Kindle, and his situation is slightly different to that of Tim Ferriss. Although Johnny FD makes close to $30k per month now, he spent about four to five years in Thailand not sure what he would do with his life. He dabbled with writing ebooks, Thai boxing, and being a divemaster. He finally started making serious money when he discovered dropshipping.

Everyone is different. If you are young and single, with no mortgage, car loan, or children, it is less risky to simply move to Thailand. If you are renting in a developed country like Australia, you will likely save money on rent. For example, US$1500 per month in Melbourne, Australia would only get you an average place to rent, but in Chiang Mai you can easily rent a place for US$500 or less. Even if you have a mortgage, you can rent your house out and use the rental income from your house to live in Chiang Mai.

As for me, I have not quit my 9 to 5 job yet, which is unfortunate because I hate my job! There are days when I feel like quitting on the spot, but my mood seems to go up and down. I remember I was very unhappy with my job about a month ago, but more recently I feel better. There are days when I wake up and dread going to work, and there are days when it’s not so bad.

My biggest fear with quitting and going to Chiang Mai is that I run out of savings, which means I’ll need to return to Australia and start applying for a job again, which is not ideal. Not only would I not be living my dream as a digital nomad, but it’s also quite shameful chasing your dream in a faraway land only to return defeated.

My advice is to follow Sean Lee’s advice (below), which is to only quit your job and go to Chiang Mai if you have set up at least one online business that is producing money.


I live off dividends

I would even go further. Sean mentioned in his video that you can live like a king in Chiang Mai for US$1000 per month, so you should not only aim to create income from an online business but you should also aim to invest in ETFs and produce US$1000 per month in dividends. This ensures that if your online businesses fails for whatever reason, you can draw upon your dividends, live in Thailand, and continue to keep building your online business. Your dividends should be your safety net.

Personally, I already make more than US$1000 per month in dividends, but I have no online business, and I do admit it’s difficult to get an online business going because there are so many ideas that it’s easy to get lost, but I believe that the first step is to simply devote time to trying different ideas out. If it fails, move on to something else. I am busy during weekdays with my 9 to 5 job, but on weekends I have spare time. I have discovered that I waste far too much time on weekends.

Don’t talk to your coworkers or your family about your digital nomad dreams!

Among just about everyone in a 9 to 5 job, socializing, travelling, and going out are seen as status symbols. On Fridays, everyone asks about what’s up for the weekend, and if you tell them you will stay at home and read The Four Hour Work Week, they think you’re a loser. They ask, “Don’t you have any friends? Don’t you have a girlfriend?” They may even attack you for reading a self-help book. One coworker said to me, “How can you work four hours a week? That cannot possibly work because you’re still working here!”

My advice to 9 to 5 worker is to not talk about your dream at all, and if people ask you what you’ve been doing over the weekend, you don’t need to lie, but you don’t need to be specific either. You can speak generally and tell them you are “relaxing at home, browsing the internet.”

The reality is that there is a crab mentality among most office workers. The office is filled with negative people who are fearful of being fired from their jobs. They are also envious (and fearful) of those higher in the hierarchy.

Most people look down upon status symbols like Ferraris, Rolexes, and Hugo Boss clothing, but personally I find these products cheap, especially since you rarely buy them. The worse status symbols are those accepted by society, e.g. going out with friends, taking a girl to a fancy restaurant, marriage ceremonies, having children, and getting a mortgage. Before you scoff at me calling these “virtuous” expenses status symbols, you must admit to yourself that when people talk about these virtuous expenses at the office kitchen, people are showing off. You can tell when someone is showing off. There is a snobbery vibe they give off. I have felt it, and I’m sure you have as well.

Conclusion

As mentioned above, I am not an expert in online business, but currently I am experimenting on or thinking of the following: blogging, eBay arbitrage, online stores, and buying/selling websites (e.g. using Flippa or Empire Flippers).

What is great about living off dividends is that you can live off dividends forever, which means you have a lifetime to devote to making your dreams a reality. If you simply saved up, quit your job, and moved to Chiang Mai, you’d run out of savings and you’d need to return.