Couldn’t my iPod read my mind just a little bit?
October 16, 2007 6:53 PM   Subscribe

My iPod/iTunes is completely out of control. I have 8,000+ songs, and they are minimally rated. My default rating when I add tracks is 4 and I downgrade tracks if I don’t want them to come up in shuffle, which runs off a playlist that’s “all songs rated 4 or higher.” This just ain’t cutting it and I find myself skipping more songs than I listen to.

Two main problems:
1. The kind of music I want to hear changes depending on setting (car, home, work, etc) and my mood. Because of this, and my large library of music, (and the fact that I haven’t even kept on top of my ratings) I usually find myself skipping 3 or 4 tracks for every one that I let play.

2. At this point, I have a lot of music that I listened to once and forgot about. A friend was flipping through my iPod on a recent road trip and saying, “Hey, wow! You like [insert band name]?” And I was, like, “I do?”

Sometimes, at home, I just give up and switch over to or Pandora, which sometimes seem to do a better job of guessing what I want to hear. A big problem with those, however, is that they’re not available when I leave the computer and take the iPod (mostly in the car).

I’ve tried the The Filter iTunes plugin a few times and found it buggy and not-so-great at generating good playlists anyway. I’m aware of MoodLogic, but my understanding is that they stopped updating it in 2003; I’ve never tried it. I just (while writing this question) discovered MusicIP Mixer and I’m testing it out now.

So…I’m aware that this is a very broad question, but does anyone have suggestions for beginning to tame this beast, either by software (preferably) or organization methods? The idea of trying to sort through tracks one-by-one, manually, is overwhelming. I love having the large library of music, and I love being able to carry it all with me, but it’s out of control at this point.
posted by SampleSize to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Sort by play count and put the top, say, two hundred most frequently played of those songs in themed lists. Uncheck the rest. Once a week, browse your music and sort/check any music that you miss or that sounds interesting and uncheck music that is irritating you.

Rinse, repeat.
posted by sondrialiac at 7:03 PM on October 16, 2007

Following these instructions may help. (That link doesn't want to work for me at the moment, so you can check out Google's cached version here. Scroll down to "Managing Your iPod with Smart Playlists.")

This method depends on having your tracks rated. For help on that, you may want to check out AutoRate, which takes a look at your unrated tracks and assigns them a number of stars based on how often the track is played and how often it is skipped. It is not perfect, but it's a start.
posted by veggieboy at 7:08 PM on October 16, 2007

You really just need to invest some time into using your rating system intelligently. Set up a playlist called "unrated" and go through ten or fifteen random songs from it every once in a while. You'll slowly whittle away at the list.

Here's how I use the 5-stars:

0-star: unrated. See above.

1-star: 'delete this song'. Why do I even own this? Delete it next time I'm back at my comp.

2 star: "keep but never hear". This covers things like songs for DJing, specialty stuff, like acappella or acoustic tracks for mixing, or songs that my SO likes but I don't.

3 is okay - I don't mind them on a random mix kind of day.

4 is good - for when I only want quality

5 is perfect, when I want to hear nothing but my favorite songs

If you can't file it into a 3,4 or 5, and you have no special reason to keep it, delete the song, already! Life is too short to worry about hoarding songs that you don't even like.
posted by chrisamiller at 7:10 PM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, I should have mentioned: I'm on a Windows XP PC
posted by SampleSize at 7:21 PM on October 16, 2007

I do exactly what chrisamiller does.

(Except I do hoard things in the 2-star category)
posted by pompomtom at 8:59 PM on October 16, 2007

actually, further to this:

I do what chrisamiller does with ratings. My most-used playlists are:

"Unrated" - anything with zero stars.
"picky" - anything with three or more stars, which hasn't been skipped in the last month, or played in the last week
"faves" - anything with four or more stars which hasn't been skipped in the last month, or played in the last week
"fivestar" - anything with five stars.

I only need to rate 9000 more tunes, and then I can start working on genres!
posted by pompomtom at 9:18 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

In addition to veggieboy's link, here are a few more articles with tips on how to arrange your music. The last one is an interesting way to divide up include the songs you want to hear as percentages of one playlist, including "Old Faves," Newly Added," "Haven't Heard in a While," etc.

Invest some time, a weekend maybe, in categorizing your music according to the data that is important to you, and making sure all the other information (genre, titles, ratings) is correct.

1. With regards to your first question, I am the same way. All of my music is labeled under genre (my own definitions) but I have also created my own groupings as well. For example, the genre might be "60s music" but under that umbrella I also have soul, mod, pyschedelic, etc. I use these groupings to create playlists for when I'm in the mood to listen to rock steady one day or french chanson the next versus listening to my entire library on random.

My ipod also allows you to listen to songs sorted by genre, which doesn't require a smart playlist — only that the genre field is filled in and arranged to your liking. (I'm not sure if all the ipods do this because my first one didn't, so YMMV.)

2. I have an 8g (older) Nano, and I have way more than 8g worth of music, so I make sure all my smart playlists are limited by, say, 200 songs or 2g worth of tunes. Each of these playlists are also set to play songs least recently heard *or* skipped, so each time I sync, any songs I have been listening to or skipped drop to the bottom of the list and are replaced with fresh songs.

Lastly, I download a lot of music from sites like WMFU's Beware of the Blog and sharity blogs. I have one more playlist that is "recently added" songs, most of which are unrated and unorganized. Sometimes, upon further listening, I like the music I download and sometimes I don't. So I also have set time aside every 2 weeks in which I import recently downloaded music into iTunes, sync my iPod, and go through any of the new music I added from the previous two weeks and either delete it if I don't want to keep it or rate and organize it if I do. This rating and "tagging" then ensures those songs get added to the other smart playlists so I can enjoy them when I'm in the mood.

I typically don't sync my ipod between these two-week "clean-up" sessions, which ensures that I get two weeks to listen to a particular mix before it changes, and two weeks to evaluate new music before decided what I want to do with it.
posted by Brittanie at 11:42 PM on October 16, 2007

Best answer: Try this system of nested playlists to handle a large library.
posted by fallenposters at 5:39 AM on October 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks! A lot of good stuff to try here to sort through.

That nested playlists link made for an easy and immediate, significant improvement to my party shuffle. Now I will have a party!
posted by SampleSize at 2:44 PM on October 17, 2007

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