Automatically have the right music on your iPod

Problem: You have a small capacity music player, (such as a 4 GB iPod Nano or 16 GB iPhone), but your full iTunes library is much larger (mine is ~200GB.) How do you make sure your portable is always loaded with the best music? Even better, how do you do this COMPLETELY AUTOMATICALLY, without any attention on your part?

Solution: Use a very advanced set of iTunes playlists, tuned to the size of your device, to automatically winnow down the list.

Curious? Read on.

My approach is based on three intuitions about what most people generally want to hear on their devices:

  1. New music you are just starting to listen to and have played a few times
  2. Old favorites you’ve listened to in the last few months
  3. A set of playlists or albums you’ve created as part of your “line up” 
My solution consists of a set of self-referring playlists that automatically balance these three lists to fit into a certain amount of space. Say you have a 4GB Nano. My First strategy loads all of my ad-hoc lists (say these are about 1GB on average. Then they add AN ADDITIONAL 2GB worth of whatever I’ve been listening to lately. For the remaining 1GB on the device, I use a playlist that adds in an additional 1GB of 4 and 5 star rated songs that were not selected by the previous two.
Here’s the setup:
First, we start with a playlist folder for the “ad hoc” playlists you’ve created. Anything ad-hoc you want on your device, stick it in here. Limit your ad-hoc playlists to a certain size, so that the remaining playlists do not overflow the device.
Secondly, create a playlist that adds in 2GBs of everything recent. The trick is to use a boolean operation o ensure that you are adding 2GB of new files to the previous step. Otherwise, this list might catch songs in your ad-hoc lists which are already on the ipod. This list will capture the last few weeks of what you have been listening to, no matter if its rated or not.
Finally, we add in a third playlist that adds an additional 1 GB of files that were not caught by the previous two. Here our goal is to add in only recent 4 and 5 star songs. This helps bring “older favorites” into the mix. By limiting this playlist to only top ratings, it reaches further back in your play history. In my case, this list frequently finds songs I haven’t played in a few months. 
This is naturally a very advanced and complex approach, but it has been very successful for me. It seems to keep the music I want to hear on my device at all times, and its very fast — just sync your iPod and fresh songs are loaded automatically without any effort on your part. 

3 thoughts on “Automatically have the right music on your iPod

  1. Pingback: iPhone News » Blog Archive » Automatically have the right music on your iPod

  2. John

    So your music collection goes beyond 200GB?? Wow! You should make a post on which pirate tool you relay on the most to collect music, ’cause you’re doing very well!!

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