It took some time, and about fifty revisions, but I feel like I have finally figured out an efficient and practical use for iTunes SmartPlaylists. The whole process started a few months back with a post by Geof F. Morris and some comments by Dougal Campbell, which I had documented and revised a bit in this post. The initial idea was (or still is) great, but after many moons of fiddling, I realized that the implementation was simply wrong (for me). No matter what I did, I could not get the playlist to work in the way that I imagined it would. I would frequently duplicate songs, unchanging playlists, and a lot of songs that I did not like to show up in my playlists. It took awhile, but I eventually realized that it was not the playlist structure that was flawed, but that my database of songs (8,000+) was simply too large for that playlist structure. So, I set out to think of a different playlist structure.
The Necessary Basics:
I was not asking for too much (I do not think). Here is the list of what I wanted on my iPod:
1. Minimal (hopefully none) duplicate songs.
2. Zero songs that I do not like.
3. More songs that I like, than songs that I sort of like.
4. Songs that I have not heard recently.
5. New songs on my iPod every day (without manually adding them).
Of the above, I think number five was my key need. I like hearing all of my music, and with that many songs, I just do not want to have to manually add and delete songs from a playlist everyday (or ever).
In the end, while not what I imagined, the following structure provided me with exactly what I was looking for. It contains six smart playlists which each feed into another smart playlist. All of the playlists are selected to sync automatically with my iPod upon connect. Here is the breakdown of each playlist (name â€“ rule â€“ description). All playlists are sorted by number, and contain songs not heard within the past 14 days.
1. 0 Star: 250 Songs that have not been rated. This playlist ensure that I constantly have music that I have never heard before on my iPod. It also helps me identify which songs I have not yet rated. The goal is to eventually have this playlist have zero songs.
2. 2 Star: 25 Songs that I have rated 2 stars. These are songs that I sort of do not like, but will listen to every once in a great while.
3. 3 Star: 50 Songs that I have rated 3 stars. This is a playlist of songs that I can listen to, but really do not like or dislike.
4. 4 Star: 75 Songs that I have rated 4 stars. These are songs which I like.
5. 5 Star: 100 Songs that I have rated 5 stars. These are my favorite songs. The ones I can listen to continuously without getting tired of them.
6. The Good Mix: 500 Songs selected randomly from the above five playlists. This playlist provides two things. 1) An easy to select playlist in my iPod that will play the songs beginning with the song that was added to the playlist first and 2) a list which I direct my Party Shuffle to select from.
Example (5 Stars):
As you can see, I have more songs on my iPod that I like, than I have songs that I do not like. In addition, I have zero songs which I rate as one star. Therefore, songs rated with one star in my iTunes are deemed songs which I never want to listen to again; ever.
Or, if the above does not cut it for you, you can always head over to smartplaylists.com and get a gander at what some other folks are doing. Enjoy.