I always felt and still feel that musicians and producers should spend equal amount listening to music than just working on their own productions. Even more, this consumption should be based on as broad scale of music as possible.
For example, someone producing techno and constantly listening to just techno, it easily leads to a situation where the same musical patterns move on and on inside the mind — instead of stretching out and trying out something totally different and inspiring, especially for the audience. In the electronic music world, this is one of my concerns, too much of the same just leads to even more production of same kind of music. I think death metal has entered this domain, as well as contemporary rap music, as well. Now, compare this with Snoop Dogg that is fond of country and western. Imagine if the Berlin techno heads would look into Eastern folk music….
Anyway, nowadays it’s not even a big commercial issue to expand your music collection on iPod. I’ve mentioned before that using eMusic is a good way to purchase totally different music. If you ever got interested in let’s say classical music from the 18:th century or jazz from New Orleans, this is the place.
Another excellent source that I’ve used recently is the Amazon MP3 offerings. I got John Coltraine‘s My Favorite Things album for $o.99. That’s a no brainer concerning purchase. Amazon also releases each week a lot of free MP3 files, all you need to do is to visit their deal site and download from all kinds of musical directions.
Next, download it all into an iPod and set the iPod to shuffle mode so each track is something totally different. I used this when driving down to San Diego a month ago, it was 6+ hours of totally different tracks each moment.
Finally, if you really want to stretch out, check out the SugarMegs.org web site that has terabytes of all kinds of live recordings from bands going back to the seventies.