Unsung Heros and Other iTunes Tips

by Derrick Story

I'm having a little bit of fun watching iTunes competitors such as BuyMusic.com wrangle with their masters as they try to bring the same level of service to customers that Apple has already so elegantly accomplished. I loved today's note about BuyMusic blocking Mac browsers. Good one.

Meanwhile, back at the Music Store, I want to bring up a couple of things that you might have forgotten about amid all the excitement concerning file sharing and online music in general. Now, granted, my library probably doesn't hold a candle to yours. Right now I have 1215 songs in iTunes. I've done my share of purchasing in the Music Store too. But there's a lot of good music on my iPod that I just don't seem to get to. And that's a waste.

Smart Playlists

So I created a new smart playlist titled "Unsung Heros." In the parameters for the list I set Last Played -> is not in the last -> 30 days, and then I set up a couple more limiters such as Album -> does not contain -> Christmas so Bing Crosby doesn't constantly appear at the top of my list. One other parameter I set is Limit to 50 songs -> selected by song name.

Now, when I want a change of pace, especially while driving in the car, I go to my Unsung Heros playlist and let it fly. In the same way water is upwelled from the ocean floor, those hidden songs I haven't listened to in the last month or so are now reeled off one after another, and I never know which one is going to play next. It's the ultimate radio station without the commercials! And it ensures that I enjoy my entire music library, not just the same old songs.

Purchased Music CD

The Mac I use to manage all my music stays at home, but my laptop is with me at all times. Since I have an older PowerBook with a smaller hard drive, I keep its iTunes library much trimmer (plus I always have the iPod with me anyway).

But sometimes I do want laptop access to my purchased music without actually having to load it all on the drive. Since my laptop is an "authorized" Mac, there are no DRM walls to worry about.

So, I just burn a CD within iTunes of my Purchased Music library and keep with with my other travel CDs. When I insert it into my travel laptop, it shows up as a regular library, and I can enjoy any of the songs.

The only drawback is that music on CD doesn't show up in my iPhoto music dialog box for slideshows. I have to drag to the song to my iTunes library on my hard disc for that to happen. I hope Apple fixes that in the next round of iLife upgrades. BTW: a backup CD provides an additional level of protection so you don't lose your purchased music from the Apple Store.

The Other Guys

I guess we're going to see lots of competition on the Windows side for online music stores. That's great. The more opportunities artists have to sell their work, the better. It's going to be fun to see if the competitors can come close to the current Apple experience. I can't wait to see iTunes on Windows. That's going to be a riot!

But for now I'm just rocking down the highway. I haven't enjoyed listening to music this much since I was 16, and my complexion is much better now.


2003-07-25 10:26:26
Smart Playlists
I set up a similar play list that I use on my iPod...

"Under appreciated"
Match the following condition:
Last Played - is not in the last - 2 - weeks
Kind - is not - Audible file

Limit to - 50 - songs - selected by - least often played
Match only checked songs
Live updating

This not only ensures that I listen to different stuff but that it favours the tracks i normally don't listen too. And it skips my Aubible books too (otherwise they annoyingly end up in the list every two weeks)

2003-07-25 11:45:29
RE: Smart Playlists
Actually, you know what would be fun? To have people comment in these talkbacks about the names they give to these types of smart playlists. I think "under appreciated" is cool.
2003-07-25 13:13:38
iTunes tips
I've actually also done something similar, but usually when I'm in the mood to listen to a bunch of songs from one artist.

Right now, I've got one called "neglected R.E.M."

2003-07-25 15:58:11
This is a great tip!
As soon as I read this, I created a smart playlist of my own with similar settings.

Another possible use: This list may also point out songs that you don't like anymore and can delete from your library.

Thanks for renewing my sense of wonder about smart playlists!

2003-07-25 22:41:23
but how to avoid dup artists
I'd like to have not played recently but also to be random in the artist. Somehow I get mulitple songs by an artist in sets.
2003-07-26 10:59:06
RE: Smart Playlists
The one that I set up some time ago (with waaay too many songs, because I didn't limit the number) is "The Neglected" :)
2003-07-26 11:09:18
RE: Smart Playlists
I have a smart playlist that is simpy "un played" yes, I know, hard to beleive, but with the amount of CDs that I'd ripped I have a itunes library that is too large to fit on the largest ipod, so there are songs that have never gotten a playcount.

Not to mention having lost the itunes library twice and haveing to receate it reset all the ratings and playcounts.

2003-07-28 06:48:10
Superior Alternative Already Available
You ask if the upcoming legal digital download systems for Windows are going to approach the quality of Apple's iTunes. I for one can't wait to see how iTunes itself does when it is made available for the Windows market.

However there is a superior solution already available, for Windows, for Mac and for Linux; and, crucially for many of us, to countries worldwide rather than just the US. It is called EMusic (www.emusic.com) and it has offered both better value for money and less restrictions than iTunes since 1998.

We happy EMusic subscribers pay a single monthly fee of $9.95 and in return are allowed to download as much as we like from the massive database of albums available. We can write to CD, to iPods or other portable devices and copy our files to other machines.

Under iTunes, ten bucks will get you ten tracks. Under EMusic it'll get you as much as you like. Spot the difference.

It distributes content from almost a thousand labels who are leaders in their genres, such as Epitaph (punk), Shanachie (folk), Beggars Banquet (indie), Metal Blade (metal), Buda (world) etc. There are brand new releases and there are backlist titles that are out of print.

The one caveat is that most major labels don't want to play. However we are finding that this is fine because there is so much great independent music available at EMusic that we don't have to conform to ClearChannel censorship any more.

Why wait for new alternatives to iTunes when a superior model has been around for five years?

2003-07-28 07:26:56
RE: Smart Playlists
This was one of the first smart lists I created whent the became available.

I call mine "Been awhile"

I also have one called Born Yesterday, that lists the stuff I've added in the past two days.

2006-04-04 13:20:19
Does anyone know how to play multiple songs in the iTunes store on Windows? I found an applescript that allows it to happen on a Mac, but I also wanted this feature on my work machine.