This post is for people who use iTunes but listen to the same few songs over and over again and feel like the rest of their iTunes library is a kind of daunting/boring place where music goes to die. This is a suggested way to get back in touch with your unheard songs in a way that pays increasing dividends towards your happiness.
If you aren’t already familiar with “Smart Playlists,” let me introduce you to a great ally. They can be found in the file menu; the menu layout is slightly different if you have an older version of iTunes:
They can also be found in the bottom left corner of the sidebar:
Once you click on “New Smart Playlist” you will see this window where you can specify simple criteria for iTunes to use to filter your songs. iTunes will then show you the songs that match your criteria and instantaneous update the playlist as you make changes to your library. It will say “Artist” where it says “Rating” in my screen shot below. Click there to see a drop menu of your many choices. The options change depending on what category you choose. My suggested playlists for today are all based on ratings. Choose “Rating” from the dropdown, then change the 5 stars on the right to zero, then click OK. Name the playlist “Unrated” or something indicating they are songs you need to go through. Load this playlist onto your iPod. If it won’t fit, click on the “Limit To” box, change “items” to “GB” and type in a size that works with your iPod.
Take this playlist out into the world and start rating songs. It can be fun to do on shuffle. Working album by album has it’s advantages as well. The ratings you specify on your iPod will be transferred back to your iTunes the next time you synch them. A friendly suggestion: if you aren’t sure what to rate a song, ask yourself how excited you would be for this song to show up on shuffle a month from now, do not try to objectively assess the song’s merit. The only thing that matters is if you want to hear again. These are my general guidelines for rating songs:
1 star = The song is sonically (or lyrically) offensive to me in some way
2 stars = Sounds fine but i don’t want to hear it again
3 stars = I’d be happy to hear this song again in the right context
4 stars = A great song; I would be glad to hear it pretty much anytime
5 stars = The best of the best (I have very few 5 star songs)
Next make another smart playlist with the following criteria:
Be sure to select “is in the range” instead of the default “is.” Name this playlist “3-5 stars” or something more fun that indicates that it’s songs you like. Once you get a decent amount of songs rated you can go back and forth between rating new songs and hearing your newly rediscovered gems.
Last but not least, create a playlist with these criteria:
Be sure to check the “Match only checked items” on this playlist. That is because songs that show up on this playlist are going to be unchecked (see below if you don’t know what “checked” means). When you uncheck a song it no longer plays unless you specifically double-click on it. It also is no longer synced to your iPod if you use the default settings. After rating a bunch of songs, go into this playlist and (on a mac) hold down the command key while you click on one of the checkboxes (I’m not sure of the Windows equivalent, probably control or option). All of the songs in that playlist will become unchecked and subsequently disappear because they no longer match your “Match only checked items” rule.
As you work your way through your library, your list of favorite songs will get longer and longer, the songs that annoy you will disappear into oblivion and your feeling that your library is a daunting/boring place where music goes to die will fade away.
You may want to put these playlists in a folder (File Menu / New / Playlist Folder) to keep them together.
This has been Befriend Your iTunes Part #1. If this was helpful to you please leave a comment. Thanks.