Greyhawks Digital Music Class – 5 – Ratings and Smart Playlists

In the last installment, I discussed what I think is one of the most important aspects of really managing your music library, and that is making sure the genres are correct and actually mean something to you as a listener. That lays the foundation to the next topic, and that is rating your music.

Most all music jukeboxes allow you to rate your music from one to five stars. This can help you manage your library in some automatic ways, and I’ll show you how. What I like to do is listen to a new album and then rate each song as I go through, here’s how I think about it.

***** Absolute awesome song – A top hit in my opinion that I could listen to any time
**** One of the best songs by this artist on the album, could be on the artists greatest hits album
*** Decent song that is listenable once in awhile
** An okay song that I might not skip while listening to an album
* I don’t use a 1 star rating at all, just the top 4

Now rating these this way affords me some luxuries when I create playlists. Lets say I only want to hear the most awesome Punk songs in my library? Well I can create a smart playlists that only includes songs in the Punk genre that I’ve rated at 5 stars. If I wanted the greatest hits of an artist, I could create a smart playlist for that artist that included all songs 4 stars and above. If I wanted to go deeper into the music catalog I could go lower on the star ratings.

The key here is the Smart Playlist. Basically a smart playlist lets you set some criteria and then it automatically makes playlists based on that criteria. So in my 5 Star Punk example, it plays all the best punk songs. If tomorrow I get a new Punk album and mark some songs as 5 stars, they automatically become part of the playlist. So once you set your system in place, and get your Smart Playlists set up, the only maintenance going forward is making sure that when you add new music to your library that you get the genre and star ratings correct. Everything else falls into place.

All of these things take awhile to set up initially, but once they are all ready, your library updates itself every time you add and rate a new album. It makes it much easier to find your favorite music, and that’s really what it’s all about.