Archive for February, 2009

My brilliant iPod music management system

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

The Problem: Most of my music listening is done from my iPod (away from my computer).  I listen to a lot of new music and have a desire to organize that music as I digest it.  Let’s say I hear one great song out of 15 new ones I’m listening to.  iPod (seemingly) only gives users one way to handle this – by creating an “on the go” playlist. This seems like a very roundabout way of getting things done.

The Solution: a combination of Smart Playlists and Song ratings.  I used iTunes and my iPod(s) for a long time before even giving the “ratings” system a second thought.  I knew that on iTunes you could give a song a rating from 1-5 stars, but I never knew why I would bother.  Then I noticed the “My Top Rated” playlist that Steve Jobs had created by default in my list o’ playlists.  THEN I realized that you can change your songs’ ratings from your iPod!! The wheels started churning.

How you do it:

  • Smart Playlists – Go to “File” and select “New Smart Playlist…”  The screen below is displayed.  From the first dropdown, select “Rating,” then just make your screen look like the picture below (adjust # of stars accordingly).  I leave the “limit” checkbox unchecked, but it can put a cap on the size of your playlist.

  • Ratings on your (older) iPod – While you’re listening to a song, just hit the center button 3 times until the ratings screen shows up, then scroll the wheel to the rating you desire and hit the center button again – Rated!

  • Ratings on your iPhone or iPod Touch – it took me a little while to figure this out.  When a song is playing and you’re looking at the album artwork, touch in the top right corner (where it looks like a bulleted list) – this brings up the track listing for the album, but at the top of that list is either the current rating, or 5 dots where a rating could be.  Touch the dot of the rating you want and your song shall be rated.

How I use it: So I now use this combination of features in 3 ways:

  • My Top Rated – these are just my favorite songs that hold  a special place in my heart.  Every time one comes on (shuffle or otherwise) that I feel deserves special recognition, I give it 4 stars.  The Smart Playlist “My Top Rated” automatically gathers all songs with a 4 or 5-star rating and voila – one big playlist with my 708 (and growing) so favorite songs.  This also works great for my iPhone since I can’t put all of my music on my iPhone and I’d rather just sync my playlists.  This guarantees my favorite songs all make it onto the iPhone.
  • Needs Attention – I give songs 2-3 stars if they need attention, and I have a second smart playlist that bears the same name.  This is a little vague, and sometimes I forget what specific attention a song needed, but the usual needs are to be filed into a differently-themed playlist, or to be replaced with a higher quality recording.
  • Sucks – I give songs one star if I hate them and want to banish them from my music library (because you can’t delete songs directly from your ipod).  Again, the “Sucks” smart playlist herds these songs together for easy execution when I get back to my computer.

It takes a little effort to achieve the full benefits of this system, but you can start small.  It’s worth it in the long run.  If you’ve got something better, please leave a comment.