Thursday, June 24, 2010

the road to 5 stars

LCD Soundsystem - Yeah (Pretentious Version)

play this song while you read, hopefully the track is long enough for you to read the entire post to music. right click to save-as the.mp3 if you wish.

i am never in silence. when i have to walk down the 4 flights of stairs to my laundry machine, headphones come with. walking a few blocks from where my car is parked to the restaurant where everyone is meeting up at, headphones. while working (except during phonecalls) the 250watt mackie hr824 mki speakers are pumpin. if it's early then i've got the panasonic over hear headphones. i have an ipod dock in the bathroom so i can shower to music. there's a set of pc speakers that i plug my iphone or ipod into in the kitchen for cooking and listening. and of course i have ipod/iphone integration in my car which has 9 speakers, one of which is a 1000 watt kenwood subwoofer paired with a 1000 watt kenwood amp.

i am never in silence.

i've already managed listening to music where i want. but what do i listen to? how do i govern the 27,549 songs loaded in my current library? how do i manage to listen to what i want, when i want?

i use a few key pieces of information, and a few basic itunes tools to my advantage.

there's two types of playlists, smart playlists and regular playlists. regular playlists are very simple. create one, drag songs into it -done. the downside to playlists is that they are static, and only change when you go in and change them. it's not much different than burning a cd, which we all know that after a number of listens we get sick of.

smart playlists can be a bit more complex, yet far more powerful. rules are associated with smart playlists, and they are updated in real time. it may be simpler for me to outline examples of playlists and smart playlists i use. it's like burning a cd that keeps updating itself with the songs you play most, rate highest, and have recently added to your collection. same list, diff songs. smart playlists follow your musical tastes and evolves as you do.

some of my sample playlists:
- songs for my friend
- napa 2010 road trip songs
- my mixtape mafia session 6 songs
- top ten tegan and sara songs

some examples of my smart playlists:
- songs with a three star rating
- songs with three star rating and less than 10 play counts
- songs with genre equal to 'dance punk' or 'electronic' with download date after 01/01/2010
- songs added within the last 20 days
- 30 songs with the highest play count
- songs with album name equal to (insert multiple album names, for me this is blogs where i download songs from, see below)
- upcoming concerts (by adding artists = each artist i have tickets to see)

(note: itunes adds one increment to a playcount only when the entire song is played. this is how i got jon's most played song to playcount 162, just fast forward to the last second of the song and let it end... playcount +1)

rating songs (stars)
this is the most important task for me, in order to skim the creamiest of songs off the top of the lot. the ultimate goal here is to segregate the songs that i can't get enough of, from the songs that i like, but don't love. star ratings allow that to happen. itunes allows you to rate a song from 0-5, meaning you have have 6 different ratings (no stars, one star, two,..., five stars).

i generally follow this pattern. if i like a song, it gets three stars right off the bat. this rating happens on the computer, the iphone, and the ipod. since i sync all these devices, with my computer. eventually the rating will get translated to the other two devices. and this song is added to my 'songs with three star rating' playlist.

now, just recently i hit about 700 songs with three stars. at this threshold is where i decided to start reviewing songs with three stars, and separate the men from the boys. if i can't live without this song, i will bump it up to 5 stars. as of now i have 30 or so songs rated at 5 stars. again, this is my no fail playlist, songs that i can hear any time, any mood, any day, and completely love every single one of the tracks that plays.

the beauty of the smart playlists and these ratings is that if my mood changes, so does the playlist. "this song is not a 5 star song anymore, down it to 3 and it's out of my 5star playlist immediately". or if i decide that i hate hate hate a song, i'll rate it one star, and have a playlist for 1star songs. when i get around to it, i'll pull up my 1star playlist and delete everything within. this works well for dupes (though itunes has a somewhat competent duplicate detection system, i also use this method).

honorable mention: skip count
if you click on view->view options... in itunes you can see that there are many fields of information that are not enabled. one of those fields (by default) is skip count. if you change the song while it's playing in the first 2 to 20 seconds, the skip count will increment by one. i use the skip count to track which songs i skip the most, some of which also have the most complete listens. a smart playlist parameter i have used before (and may again) is something along the lines of playcount is less than 10, skip count is more than 10. this way i target songs that i don't like.

keeping it open:
since i only use the zero, one, three, and five ratings for songs, this leaves me open to determine what a two star and four star rating means. i like to design my processes with room for growth and expansion, you never know.

i also have tracking my activity, so you can graphically see what/who i listen to most (click on charts and see just how big of a tegan and sara fan i am)

"yeah yeah yeah yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah"


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