Do you use Smart Playlists?

[tweetmeme  only_single=false] iTunes Smart Playlists allow for very flexible creation of dynamic playlists based on a whole boat-load of parameters.  But I wonder how often people use this feature. Is it too complicated?  Let’s find out.  I’ve created a poll that will take you about 20 seconds to complete.   Go to iTunes, count up how many smart playlists you have.  You can tell which playlists are smart playlists because they have the little gear icon:

Don’t count the pre-fab smart playlists that come with iTunes (like 90’s music, Recently Added, My Top Rated, etc.).   Once you’ve counted up your playlists, take the poll:

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  1. #1 by zazi on July 30, 2010 - 10:42 am

    Please reconsider that the smart playlist feature is not an iTunes-only feature. I’m using for instance Songbird, which has also this feature. However, generally your are right, the GUI experience is often very similar and hence awful. As far as I can remember, one can more or less also create smart playlist in the 3D universe from the mufin player. More things like this one have to come (as proposed in Anita Lillie’s thesis).

  2. #2 by rumpelfilter on July 30, 2010 - 10:56 am

    agree with zazi. and no I don’t use itunes… just not my cup of tea.

  3. #3 by Tom Butcher on July 30, 2010 - 11:00 am

    I have smart playlists to help me keep track of the music I’m adding to my library. I have three “recent” playlists, broken down into “few,” “more,” and “many,” which map to tracks added in the last week, month, and three months.

    I also have a few playlists to help me organize certain music better, like one for “Essential Mix” to help me keep track of recordings I save from the BBC 1 radio show of the same name.

  4. #4 by Bob on July 30, 2010 - 11:13 am

    I haven’t created any playlists, but I’ve altered some of the parameters of the pre-made ones.

  5. #5 by Bob on July 30, 2010 - 11:20 am

    Forgot to add, that I find most of the parameters don’t have anything to do with how I select music. The parameters are kind of old thinking. Rating – really? And you can dance to it? I’ve never tried doing anything with the descriptions, but if there were a way to tag songs with phrases you would select; great guitar solo or something like that. That might be useful. Even genre is almost meaningless. Too many exceptions.

  6. #6 by Joel Corriveau on July 30, 2010 - 11:52 am

    Some of my fav lists are:

    – “Top 100 – Least Recently Played”
    – “New Podcast (Within the last week, excluding 1stars, which lets me eliminate them without deleting them.)
    – “Most Played – But not this week”
    – “Top 500” on random makes for a very enjoyable listen.

  7. #7 by Brad on July 30, 2010 - 2:01 pm

    About 90% of my music listening is driving via some form of Auto Playlists. I use them to exclude 1 and 2 star ratings and filter down by genre and tags and also remove certain artists from some lists.

  8. #8 by George W. on July 30, 2010 - 2:05 pm

    I’d love a way to do a “Artist” “Is greater than..” query.

  9. #9 by Neil Crosby on July 31, 2010 - 11:48 am

    I live by my Smart Playlists. I’ve got 185Gb of music in my collection, bbut I listen to most of it on my iPhone. I don’t want to have the same set of music on there all the time, so I have at present 73 Smart Playlists which I use to generate the set of music that gets synced.

    The majority of these playlists are Smart Playlists which use other Smart Playlists as their base point. It works out pretty well for me.

    Of course, Smart Playlists in iTunes are still pretty flawed. I want the ability to create Smart Playlists of songs I’ve only ever listened to on thursday nights on the way to the pub, or that just contain albums that I have rated more than three songs from and the average of those is at least four stars. There are other ways to do this, for sure, but nothing build directly into iTunes, which is a crying shame.

    Oh, and for completeness’ sake, along with my 73 Smart Playlists, I have five standard playlists which are also used as base includers or excluders for other Smart Playlists.

  10. #10 by Emme on August 2, 2010 - 3:46 am

    I would like to use the smart playlist feature (and the genius) very much but there is no itunes for linux.

    Do you know if anyone has realized anything similar (to the smart playlists or to genius) using the echonest api? Is it available anywhere?

  11. #11 by Daniel on August 3, 2010 - 10:22 am

    I voted “I don’t use iTunes” for correctness’ sake, but I use an equivalent feature in MediaMonkey (called Auto Playlists there) -> Screenshot (not mine):

    If you have a large collection and you are serious (to not say ‘anal’) about tagging, then using it becomes a no-brainer. What’s the use of meticulously adding information if you’re only going to browse it by one field? I use tags for everything from tempo to moods to seasons to daytimes to instruments, and I think the couple of additional seconds it takes to tag a track is worth it thanks to auto playlists (even though most of the time I listen to albums back to back).

    There’s also an extension for MediaMonkey that pretty much kicks any Smart Playlist feature’s butt. It’s called Magic Nodes and lets you add arbitrary new nodes to the tree view on the left, based on criteria defined through a Smart-Playlist-like interface, or even full SQL queries that directly access the music database underneath. There’s literally no idea crazy enough that you can’t make it into a playlist with that tool. Except if you don’t know SQL ;D

    @Emme: Have a look at Amarok. They mention a dynamic playlist feature using Echo Nest. As for iTunes for Linux: try Songbird or aTunes.

  12. #12 by Jon on August 3, 2010 - 5:30 pm

    Similar (I think) to what someone posted up thread is my most used smart playlist is ‘cycle’.

    Any song I reasonably like gets a rating of 3 or over, this playlist selects the least recently played 150 of these tracks, that aren’t DJ sets, and plays them in a random order.

    I also really like ‘under a minute’ that plays every song (you guessed it) shorter than a minute. This plays them in track order so you get some kind of progression – lots of album openers through to those squiddly little closers. Might listen to it now…

  13. #13 by lenlynch on August 6, 2010 - 12:55 pm

    It’s great that other products have gone farther than what iTunes made popular. Thanks for talking them up!

    Anyone have a pointer toward the logic that would allow a Smart Playlist to approximate the AOR-style radio programing calendar-frequency?

    You know, the phenomenon where you realize that you haven’t heard a song or you somehow expect to hear it soon, and then it within what seems to be few days, you hear it being played somewhere.

    If you know of any reference materials on this subject, any info would be appreciated.

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