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 iPod Personal Radio Station

Smart Playlists
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Weighted play by ratings is absolutely the key to making your iPod a true personal radio station.

This is also not a perfect solution, but here's what I do:

Create the following smart playlists:

5 star songs that have not been played in the 
   last 7 days

4 star songs that have not been played in the
   last month

3 star songs not played in the last 90 days

2 stars not played in 6 months

1 star songs not played in a year


Finally, I have what I call a weighted random playlist of songs that are in any of those 5 smartplaylists.

It's taken a while for me to figure out the right length between plays to set for the different ratings, but I think what I've described above is working pretty well.

The problem with this system is that automatic update doesn't work for playlists that reference other playlists on the iPod. It works in iTunes, so I would hope this is a bug they'll eventually fix on the iPod.


by davepmiller on Aug 05 | 11:09 am
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Comments

Thanks - - this is helpful. I've found another way to use iPod as a personal radio station. Have a number of playlists with varied types of music (2 stars; Absolute Favs; Never heard; etc.).

As you know, you can create an On-The-Go playlist to capture several iPod playlists. I do this to mix different types of music.

If I want to give added weight to a particular playlist, I highlight it twice for the On-the-Go playlist. Doubles the possibility that one of its songs will be heard, and I've rarely (if ever) run across a repeat song this way. . . .


by Scott on Aug 18 | 2:59 pm

Instead of tinkering around with the days/weeks/months since last played (which would differ for every user, depending on library size, number of songs at each rating in it, and how frequently the SPL is used), it's possible to give weights that remain exactly precise and consistent ... for instance:

5 stars: limit to 150 songs by random (or least recently played)

4 stars: limit to 120 songs by ""

3 stars: limit to 90 songs by ""

2 stars: limit to 60 songs by ""

1 star SPL: limit to 30 songs by ""

Adjust weightings to suit personal taste, naturally -- for instance, I group 4 and 5 in the same SPL and cut the 1s out altogether, to reduce clutter.

Scott's right on the money with getting around the iPod bug -- dump them in On-the-Go.


by nyorker on Aug 19 | 7:03 pm

I want to ask about the On-the-Go thing in a separate post, but for people who use a method similar to the one I described I do think it's critical to select by least recently played instead of by random. Because the random order is static, selecting songs at random will cause the same ones to be selected even when the playlist has been refreshed.

As far as the weighting goes, I started out with something similar to what you've described (i.e. fewer 1-start songs), but I realized that I had been pretty selective in assigning the 5-star and 4-start songs, so I was in effect double-weighting by limiting the number of 1-star songs.

I agree the right weights are going to vary a fair amount from person to person. Thanks for the feedback.


by davepmiller on Aug 22 | 3:26 pm

Can anybody recommend a good reference for the On-the-Go playlist? I tried using it once, but I didn't find it very intuitive. I think I had trouble figuring out how to delete something I'd mistakenly added, and deleting always makes me nervous anyway. It sounds like it really would be a good solution, but I'd like some help getting started.


by davepmiller on Aug 22 | 3:29 pm

<<Because the random order is static, selecting songs at random will cause the same ones to be selected even when the playlist has been refreshed.>>

Sorry -- for those who don't know, for SPLs based on 'select at random' you need to add another line like 'Last played is not in the last 1 day' (or 1 week, or scaled as you suggested Dave -- anything really) so the iPod will refresh it for you. I sometimes forget to mention that most basic of points, hehe ...


by nyorker on Aug 22 | 4:06 pm

Sorry I don't understand how the on-the-go playlist get's around the problem that the ipod doesn't live update playlists that refer to other playlists. Can anybody help?


by chris on Aug 24 | 9:35 am

<<...I do think it's critical to select by least recently played instead of by random. Because the random order is static, selecting songs at random will cause the same ones to be selected even when the playlist has been refreshed.>>

On a related note, do you know what the criteria are for a song being marked as played (do you have to listen to the entire thing)? I've found myself after using this for a few days that I've got a lot of cruft at the start of my list of songs I'd just like to be marked as played, that I've skipped multiple times at this point (much after listening to a sizeable percentage of the track).

It seems that the "Shuffle Songs" feature on the iPod itself is lacking as well, else that would be an ideal solution. It seems that it won't shuffle smart playlists.

Other than this issue, this seems like a great way to mix up your tunes; thanks.


by bobdobolina on Aug 26 | 1:53 am

I want to say that I just tried out the great suggestions posted in this thread, and you guys rock! It's like having a brand-new iPod! With the SPL you guys recommend, my iPod plays lots of music I love, some music I like, and it's all mixed up real good.

For the longest time I've used a SPL of all songs with ratings of 3 and above that was my simple version of a radio station, but it was lame. I was skipping past songs all the time, even though every song was at least a 3 ("like it"). I think the weighting tricks you guys suggested made a big difference.

Anyway, thanks for the great suggestions. It's a whole new ipod for me now!


by hotwheels71 on Aug 26 | 5:57 pm

Quick question: davepmiller, who started this thread, wrote:

"The problem with this system is that automatic update doesn't work for playlists that reference other playlists on the iPod. It works in iTunes, so I would hope this is a bug they'll eventually fix on the iPod."

So how do I refresh my SPL on the iPod? Do I have to remove the SPL on the iPod and re-create it to refresh it? Or does iTunes update my iPod's SPL when I dock the iPod?

Thanks for any insight you might have...


by hotwheels71 on Aug 26 | 6:58 pm

re: hotwheels71 question about updating, when I connect my iPod to the PC, it automatically updates all of my playlists that have live updating checked (even those that reference other playlists). I don't have to do anything other than just plug it in, and the update happens on its own.


by davepmiller on Aug 28 | 1:18 am

re: bobdobolina's question about how songs are marked as played, the song gets marked as played when it finishes. Therefore, when I want to skip a song and not hear it for a while, I fastforward to the end of the track by hitting select and then scrolling forward until there's only a second or two left. I think folks call this scrubbing, and there are some other posts somewhere on this site that talk about it.


by davepmiller on Aug 28 | 1:22 am

<<I don't understand how the on-the-go playlist get's around the problem that the ipod doesn't live update playlists>>>

It doesn't get around every problem, but in this case we're talking about a SPL like the following:

Match ANY:
Playlist is SPL1
Playlist is SPL2
Playlist is SPL3

... so in the iPod Playlists menu, move the cursor over each of the playlists SPL1, SPL2, and SPL3 and add them to On-the-Go each in turn by holding down the button in the middle of the wheel. Then tell the iPod to shuffle by songs, and play On-the-Go.

Naturally, this doesn't solve nearly all the problems with the iPod 'Playlist is/is not' bug ... so everyone, make sure to submit feedback at http://www.apple.com/feedback/ipod.html and let Apple know we feel strongly about them fixing this bug for every iPod!


by nyorker on Aug 31 | 6:16 pm

What if there's already stuff in the On-the-Go playlist. How and when does it get cleaned out?


by davepmiller on Sep 01 | 12:00 am

On my 3G, you have to clear On-the-Go with the 'clear playlist' option before you can use it for something else ... I've heard there are more options in the 4G like saving, deleting, and making multiple playlists on the go, but I dunno how that works


by nyorker on Sep 01 | 12:56 pm

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