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 iTunes Top 20 Smart Playlist Strategy

Smart Playlists
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iTunes has one play-tracking limitation that, if fixed, would yield some very cool playlists: the ability to see how many times a song has been played recently . But there's no timestamp saved for each play; it just increments the playcount and records the last playdate.

Nevertheless, it is possible to determine which music is recently popular and find your recently favorite music. I've made some new playlists that I believe improve iTunes' ability to accurately represent my real Top 20.

Right now my Top 20 has the following criteria:
Five Stars, AND 
Last Play is in the last 2 weeks 
Limit to 20 songs selected by most played


I set it this way so that if there was a song that used to be popular and had a ton of plays, but that I was sick of and had stopped listening to, it would drop off the playlist.

However, I noticed that sometimes when playing randomly from all my five-star music, some of this music that was highly-played but not so well-liked anymore would still get played once in a while - as often as any other - and then jump back into the Top 20.

I realized that I didn't have a way to capture recently popular music, music that I'm currently obsessed with, and give them a chance to get more plays to catch up with the list. I also noticed that I was so intent on not giving the Top 20 a false advantage that I was avoiding playing from the Top 20 playlist, and wasn't giving recently popular Top 20 music a priority in my actual listening rotation.

So here are three new playlists I've devised to help me catch the music I actually love and give recent obsessions a chance to rise to the top.

Favs - Hot
Five Stars AND 
Last Played is in the last 3 days


I usually start this playlist on Shuffle once a day, and I'll skip any song I'm not in the mood to listen to. This playlist includes some of the songs on my Top 20.

Favs - Recycle
Five Stars AND 
Last Played is not in the last 1 week 
Last Played is in the last 2 weeks


When a song falls off the "Hot" list, it goes MIA for a cooling off period of four days, after which it appears on this list. I'll check this list every few days, more than once a week, and give it a shuffle-play, again skipping the songs I don't want to listen to. Songs that I listen to are therefore immediately promoted back to the "Hot" list. Songs that aren't heard for two weeks then fall off this list as well. Note that if this song is on the Top 20 list, it also falls off the Top 20 at this time.

Favs - Forgotten
Five Stars AND 
Last Played is not in the last 4 weeks 


When a song falls off the "Recycle" list, it goes MIA for a longer cooling-off period of two weeks. At that point it reappears on my "Forgotten" list. This list contains all my five-star music that I haven't listened to in the last four weeks. Every once in a while I will give this a shuffle-play and go through the whole thing, skipping the tunes I don't want to hear. After getting through the whole playlist that way, I can look at the tunes that haven't been played in the longest amount of time, and consider demoting them to four stars.

I think this is a great system because now I can use my Top 20 as purely a reference, perhaps to export the playlist, or the occasional playthrough for friends. There is no need for me to listen to my Top 20 directly and risk falsely rewarding songs simply for being on the list. All my recent favorite music is now on my "Hot" list for rapid playcount climbing, and if any fall off before I'm ready, I can just promote them a few days later from the "Recycle" list. Overall, a much better system to find and reflect my current favorite music.

from curt


by dfbills on Oct 07 | 7:00 pm
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