Smart Playlists

I should preface this by saying that I am sticking with iTunes 4.8 until Apple goes back to letting the iPod compute dynamic updating to the playlists (live updating), or they come out with some truly “gotta have” reason for upgrading (no, podcasts aren?t all that). Smart Playlists are just too cool, but they take a coolness hit when this was dropped as a capability with 4.9 (no word on 5.0).

Okay, political statement out of the way. OK, Playlists.

Love the Smart Playlist. Great feature. Boolean logic rules.

I’ve got about 1250 songs loaded into iTunes. All are rated. When a song is added, I give it a 3 star rating by default.

If I can stand the song, but maybe not in high doses, I give it two stars.

If it needs to be deleted, and not played, it gets one star.

Four and five stars, better and best. Right now, they total just over 300 and about 60, respectively.

I also use the comments field to tag songs, mainly to ID them as being NSFW ? not suitable for work. I also have tagged the songs with something appropriate for their genre.

When I started playing with SP?s, I was looking to build the one playlist I would play all the time ? something to listen to when I am sitting at the PC working just as I would listen to it when running or out and about. A radio station for my life.

Here?s the catch ? I really don?t listen to radio stations much, and when I do, they?re German ones. Hearing new, hit songs more often ? not important to me. I just want to hear better songs more often.

So, the end state for me is one playlist I play all the time. What it would take to get there, well, it would be transparent.

I started off by creating four playlists to filter the music by ratings ? the first cut. They vary a little bit, and I?ll explain why.

2 stars
3 stars
4 stars
5 stars

2 star songs are at the bottom of the food chain. They?re a couple of clicks away from being one star and being killed. No songs that are NSFW. Also, the two star songs are limited to songs not played in the last 45 days ? I don?t want to hear them often. Lastly, the SP is limited to 10 songs based on the least often played basis.

3 and 4 star songs are matching. Number of stars, not from certain genres, nothing NSFW.. Notice no selection by last played ? it?s deliberate. Yes, I have other playlists that tap into these basic screening elements.

5 star songs get a little different treatment. Genres mean less ? a great song is a great song.

From that first cut, I added in the second cut.

3 star 20 days
4 star 7 days
5 star 3 days

Here, I am just screening the music again for a last-played criteria. In using this with both my iTunes at the house and the iPod on the go, their synching keeps me from hearing the same song close together, so long as I synch the iPod when home (and I am pretty good about it).


Lastly, here?s the playlist itself. It?s pretty hard for me to wind this thing all the way out and run out of music. That pretty much can only happen, based on my regular listening habits, if I leave it on overnight and all day.

It?s a simple, effective system. It also builds a good foundation, with the first cut for ratings, genre, and NSFW screening, to build other playlists.

3 thoughts on “Smart Playlists

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