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Reader Feedback: iTunes Smart Playlist ideas?

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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.

26 Responses to “Reader Feedback: iTunes Smart Playlist ideas?”

  1. I know exactly what you mean by ‘out of the box!” I’ve been trying to think of creative playlists also, and I’ve been searching google, and everyone has boring ideas. Usually based off ratings or whatever. So far I have come up with ONE of my own. Soundtrack of my Life. Basically it’s all the songs whose lyrics I can relate to. You like? :D

  2. I just have main genres with smaller genres listed in the ‘grouping’ menu. I.e. ‘House’ has disco-house, electro-house, deep-house etc.

    This means that songs with muliple genres, i.e. a Led Zepplin track will be rock, blues and psych-rock. So if I make a blues playlist, I put ‘contains’ blues and it will come up.

    I also create ‘mood’ playlists, i.e. Post-apocalyptic which contains heavy drum n bass, industrial, punk and hardcore. Or space lounge, which contains downtempo, deep-house and groove.

  3. I don’t ever rate the songs…because lets be honest…who is going to sit at their computer and rate songs? No one. So I believe that the best way of seeing which songs you like best are by the songs play count.

    I use my iPod at my work…where dozens of people are listening to it…so the songs have to be clean and fairly new…no one wants to listen to the same song over and over.

    Therefore, the main play list i use at work is broken down into two criteria:
    1 – songs that have been played 10 or more times.
    2 – songs that have not been played in the last 10 days.

    I named it “10 and 10” (haha)…this keeps the music from playing every single day…and its pretty much going to be pretty good songs since I’ve listened to it 10 or more times.

    My other play lists are:
    Play List 1 – songs that have a zero play count.
    Play List 2 – songs that have been played 1-3 times.
    Play List 3 – songs that have been played 4 times.
    This play list (3) is the one i play in my car to see if they are inappropriate to play at work)
    Play List 4 – songs that have been played 5-10 times.
    I use this one at the work place.
    Play List 5 – songs that have been played 10 or more times.
    This play list is just a group of songs that I must like since they played so many times.

    All my play lists have the live updating to keep the play lists updating as the music is played.

  4. I use smart playlists to automatically rotate through my entire library by genre. For each genre, I select only 3 star and above songs that have not been played within the last 4-12 weeks (depends on the genre, some I listen to more often than others). That way, iTunes is removing songs as I listen to them, and adding them back when it’s been a while.

    This has become the ultimate personalized radio station, by genre and easily goes through my full library.

  5. Chris Herborth:

    There’s an Applescript an Doug’s Applscripts fot itunes (Google it) that does exactly that: It scans your library for artists that only have 1 song. You can then sort by year or genre

  6. For podcasts I use stars to indicate if I’m finished listening to the podcast. Zero stars means I want to keep it in the smart playlist, five stars means take it out. So my smart playlist pulls in all albums with the podcast title and EXCLUDES anything with five stars. This way the playlist automatically cleans itself up!

  7. I’d like one for “all songs, where I’ve only got one song by this artist” or “all songs, where I’ve only got one song from this album”… that way I could get a playlist with all of the one-hit wonders from the 80s, 90s, etc. in one playlist.

    – chrish

  8. Frisco’s setup sounds like iTunes Utopia. However, I don’t think I have the time or wherewithal to implement it on my 12K song library. Maybe one day I’ll barricade myself in my apartment for the weekend and give it a whirl.

    In the meantime, I have a couple of smart playlists based on the point in my life that the music is from – eg. “The College Years” and that can be split up by genre easily enough.

  9. My favorite playlist is the top 10 most recently added songs – this makes it easy to find new songs that I just put on my iPod for the commute home.

    I also have a smart Playlist called “Cape Cod 80’s” – popular songs from 1987 – 1989. Great to bring back memories on being on the Cape.

  10. JulesLt

    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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. I’ve always gone to 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. :)

  15. Hotspur

    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.

  16. 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:
    – 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”);

  17. 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.

  18. 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.