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Case Study: Create Your Own Personal Jukebox Using iTunes (aka Music) – Step 3

To create our personal jukebox, we’re going to use a series of interlocked Smart Playlists. In iTunes (aka Music), Smart Playlists are just a subset of your songs based on certain criteria. We’re going to start with very broad criteria and work our way down.

Firstly, we’re going to make a Smart Playlist called ‘ZZZ Candidates’ (we use the ‘ZZZ’ to make sure it’s sorted to the bottom of our playlists).

Select File -> New -> Smart Playlist and enter the following information:

  1. Match all media for all of the following rules
  2. Playlist is Music
  3. Time is in the range 0:30 to 12:00
  4. Last Played not in the last 2 days
  5. Genre is not whatever genres you want to exclude (add as many of these as you like)
  6. Check ‘Live updating’

What this playlist does is gather all your music together, excluding those that are crazily short (less than 30 seconds) or long (more than 12 minutes) or those that you’ve played in the last 2 days or those in the genres in which you have no interest.

Obviously, you’re permitted to tweak any of those numbers or categories.

These are the songs our jukebox might play. The ‘Live updating’ ensures it keeps up to date – this is most important for the ‘last 2 days’ rule. That means as soon as a song is played it drops out of consideration for this playlist. For a couple of days at least.

Once you have your candidates, it’s time to make playlists for the different star ratings. This is why you spent all that time putting stars on things last time around.

Create a new Smart Playlist called ‘XXX 5 Star Least Recently Played’ with the following rules:

  1. Playlist is ZZZ Candidates
  2. Rating is 5 Stars
  3. Limit to 23 items selected by least recently played
  4. Check ‘Live updating’

These are the 23 5 Star Songs you’ve played least recently. They’re going to go into your final mix.

We’re also going to add another Smart Playlist called ‘XXX 5 Star Least Often Played’ with the following rules:

  1. Playlist is ZZZ Candidates
  2. Rating is 5 Stars
  3. Playlist is not XXX 5 Star Least Recently Played
  4. Limit to 33 items selected by least often played
  5. Check ‘Live updating’

These are the 33 5 Star Songs you’ve played least often (excluding those already in the ‘least recently’ mix). They’re also going to go into your final mix.

So now you have two Smart Playlists of 5 star songs – the ones you haven’t heard recently and the ones you haven’t heard a lot of. You’re going to repeat the process with 4 star and 3 star songs. Limit both counts of 4 stars to 23 items each. Limit the 3 star songs to 5 items each.

There’s one more Smart Playlist to make. This is a catch-all for any other songs that might not have made the mix. So set up a Smart Playlist called ‘XXX Other’ with the following rules:

  1. Playlist is ZZZ Candidates’
  2. Playlist is not XXX 5 Star Least Often Played
  3. Playlist is not XXX 5 Star Least Recently Played
  4. Playlist is not XXX 4 Star Least Often Played
  5. Playlist is not XXX 4 Star Least Recently Played
  6. Playlist is not XXX 3 Star Least Often Played
  7. Playlist is not XXX 3 Star Least Recently Played
  8. Rating is greater than 1 Star
  9. Limit to 3 items selected by random
  10. Check ‘Live updating’

Now you’re just about done. Make one final Smart Playlist called ‘@Mix’ (the ‘@‘ ensures it goes to the top of your playlists). Use the following rules:

  1. Match music for any of the following rules
  2. Playlist is XXX 5 Star Least Often Played
  3. Playlist is XXX 5 Star Least Recently Played
  4. Playlist is XXX 4 Star Least Often Played
  5. Playlist is XXX 4 Star Least Recently Played
  6. Playlist is XXX 3 Star Least Often Played
  7. Playlist is XXX 3 Star Least Recently Played
  8. Playlist is XXX Other
  9. Limit to 100 items selected by random
  10. Check ‘Live updating’

This Mix playlist is now a blend of your favourite music, biased towards the music you’ve rated the highest and those you’ve heard the least often or least recently.

Go play that sucker (select Shuffle mode for the true jukebox experience).

Next time, we’ll discuss the impact of tweaking the numbers in the list to make it all truly personal.

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