I was invited to speak in front of a recording class that a friend was teaching recently, and one of the topics I brought up was the concept of being a fan of music. I find it hard to believe that anyone reading Tape Op would not be a music fan, let alone someone that was studying music recording and looking to become a professional.
The kind of fandom I was discussing is one that borders on the obsessive, but it's one that has served me well. My thought is that there is a lot to be learned about music and making records, and one can partially accomplish that by studying every detail of an artist's career. Start by listening to all of their albums, then look for odds and ends that didn't get released on these records. Do a bit of research and find out why these tracks were not on albums. Look into side projects, and note the different styles or sounds these might have versus the main career path. Find articles, interviews, and books about the artists you like. Study the thoughts and stories that went into each album or session. Learn about the arc of an artist's career. Take a close look at records that were critically slammed, or didn't sell well, and try to understand what is different about these releases.
All of this leads to information that can serve you well in the studio. An artist's first album is different than their second, third, or fourth release. A highly controlled session might be followed by a looser album project. By studying many artists' careers you'll start to see patterns that apply to the people you work with; by paying attention, you can recognize this and use it to your advantage.
Plus, listening to music is fun!