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Summary:

I had an article idea today of posting some cool setups for smart playlists in iTunes. After about 10 minutes of staring at the different possible rules options it hit me…I can’t think of any cool ideas. I’m aware of the Do-It-Yourself Smart Radio Station and […]

I had an article idea today of posting some cool setups for smart playlists in iTunes. After about 10 minutes of staring at the different possible rules options it hit me…I can’t think of any cool ideas.

I’m aware of the Do-It-Yourself Smart Radio Station and then there’s the obvious “most popular songs” or “least played songs,” but I’m looking for some outside-the-box ideas.

So, I’d love to hear some of your ideas for Smart Playlists in iTunes. If you’ve already setup the rules to pull it off, post those as well if you can.

By Josh Pigford

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  1. I picked up a few Smart Playlist ideas from http://www.smartplaylists.com/ but I’m sure you’ve already seen one.

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  2. I listen to my music depending on my mood and situation. I have a wake up playlist that awakens me up using the software Awaken. Another instance – I am more likely to listen to my sensual playlist around my girlfriend. For this playlist, I have set my comments to Sensual, so all the songs that have sensual in the comments show up on that list.

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  3. My favorite is one I call “The 1′s”. It’s a smart playlist where it only shows songs whose track number is “1″.

    For a lot of albums, the band will put a single or some other popular song first. I rather like this list of mine, you get a high concentration of popular songs.

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  4. I use something much like Rishabh, but more advanced. I wrote a widget which lets me easily rank the current song on various scales (like “My rating”, but you can have one for mood, softness, whatever you like). It works by storing these rankings in the comments of your songs (without clobbering any other comments you have there).

    You can then make a bunch of smart playlists (eg “softness > 2″), and use them as building blocks for real playlists (eg “playlist is `softness > 2` and playlist is `mood > 1`”).

    You can get the widget here:
    http://gfxmonk.sysprosoft.com/2006/02/my-first-widget.html
    – to change what you want to rank your songs on, I’m afraid you’ll have to edit the first line of the iRank.js file inside the widget. But it’s not hard, honest, it looks like this:

    var ratings = new Array(“My Rating”,”Pop”, “Mood”, “Softness”, “Hardcore”, “Nostalgia”);

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  5. One of my favorite playlists is very simple:

    Rating is at least 4.
    Last played is not in the last four weeks.

    Always songs I love, always songs I haven’t heard in a little while.

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  6. I’ve always gone to http://www.smartplaylists.com to get my ideas and suggestions. Plenty of places to get some inspiration there!

    I’ve now managed to build a series of smart playlists to manage the life cycle of my music. :) From a brand new song, rated and played, through to old favourites and songs to delete. :)

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  7. Really, it’s not about how clever your playlist rules are, it’s how well-organized your music collection is. For example,

    - Use the comments tag to indicate cover songs, remixes, mood, playlist, etc.
    - Make sure the year tag refers to original album release, not reissue dates.

    Personally I resolve the genre issue by using only eight ‘main’ genres: pop, rock, country, rap, r&B, electronic, reggae and classical. I then list the subgenre in the grouping tag. Now I can split the genre’s into ‘styles’: Alt-Pop, Alt-Rock, Classic Rock, Traditional Country, Hard Rock, Oldies Pop, Soft Rock, Soul/R&B, Hip-Hop/R&B, and so forth.

    I use a rating scheme too; No stars means the song has not been listened to or rated. One star means it is forgettable, and if the artist isn’t a favored one, I delete the song. Two stars means the song is not great compared to other songs, but it is good relative to the other songs in an artists catalogue. Three songs means it is a good song and should be included in the playlists. Four stars represent an artists best work. Five stars represent a song better than 95% of the others in the library. The ratio of five-star songs to 3-to-5-star songs should not exceed 1:4

    Now with all the above info, I can use rules to split the genres into years, or the five-star songs into genres. Also, by converting all your regular playlists to smart playlists via the comments field you ensure that your playlists will not be lost, as long as your song files are intact.

    Also, since iTunes does not suppory boolean operators, you must use ‘provisional’ playlists to get advanced, e.g. Provisional Pop would include songs whose grouping or genre is pop, and Provisional Pop 2 would include songs that are in Provisional Pop and whose rating is above two.

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  8. I don’t use the stars for ratings. What’s the point, really? Plus it’s so easy to add stars to any playing track that it seems s that they should be used for more powerful ends (Bwahahaha!)
    So, 1 star means “junk”, 2 stars means that I like it, but I’ll probably forget who it’s by. Kind of a reminder rating.
    That’s it for ratings, although only for now. I guess you could have 5 stars for “always on my iPod, please” and on…
    The nicest thing about the stars is that they can be added from iPods too.

    Also, the new “Skipped” attributes for smart playlists are useful. For instance, I have a Jazz smart playlist which is only for the super chilled stuff. Sometimes a track pops up which is wrong for the list, but in the future I might be in a different mood and the track will be great.
    So I have added “Last skipped is NOT in the last week” as a parameter. This means that I kick the track out of the list for a week when I skip it. Very slick, I think.

    And more: Use Tune Tags along with Quicksilver to tag tracks on the fly, and then use those tags to build playlists:

    Tune tags’ll build a playlist based on tags too, from QS, but I just use it for Smart Playlists. It stores the tags in the comments field.

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  9. I have:

    Current Mix: Rating is 3 or greater and limits it to 50 tracks by the ones that I’ve listened to most recently

    Right Now: Songs added in the last week that have a rating of 3 or greater

    New tunes: Added in the last week and isn’t a podcast

    I listen to a lot of remixes so I also have artist playlists that add music by finding the artist name in the track, the artist or the album.

    I also have playlists set up to search the comments for names of indie labels.

    There my playlists.

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  10. I’ve set up playlists for different cities (rather than tagging) – which means I can easily create a smart playlist of Detroit 65-90, or Manchester 76-now.

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