Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cleaning the Pipes

Like many people, I have a couple of Smart Playlists that I frequently listen to on an iPod. There's one that's a variation of the built-in "My Top Rated", and another I made called "Never Played, Never Rated". (Try to guess what the conditions are for that one.)

Both of these playlists are big enough that I use cut-down versions on the iPod, by making other Smart Playlists with a single condition (Playlist is ) and a limit of some number of songs, "selected by random".

Now, Smart Playlists like this can get stale. You have some percentage of your top-rated songs, but the selection never changes. You have some bunch of unfamiliar songs, chosen way back when you created the playlist, and they only turn over one at a time. Newer songs only have a slim chance of being included as other songs drop out (as you rate or play them).

Normally, a Smart Playlist is impervious to the Delete key. If the playlist includes every song that meets some condition, or picks its songs based on date added, most played, etc., it's not practical to delete a song from that playlist. The same song would just reappear a moment later.

However, playlists with a limit "selected by random" form an exception to this rule. You can select and delete a song from such a playlist, and another (different) one takes its place.

So, to keep these playlists fresh, you can periodically select and delete all their songs. You'll get a whole new set. This technique keeps your iPod "Favorites" playlist from turning into an echo chamber, and brings your recently added songs into an "Unrated" playlist.


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