Manage iTunes like an expert - How to manage your playlist

Published the 29th Jan, 19 in the Tips and tricks category

Managing a huge song playlist is not easy as it sounds. Here is the "how to" do it, effortlessly (kind of) thanks to some useful tools and great advices.

Downloading a lot of songs is easy today...


You can buy your music online on iTunes or anywhere else; you can download your favorite songs from Pirate Bay or other illicit platforms; you can as well convert your CDs... And easily get a library matching your expectations.


If like most peoples you use music like a handkerchief, your library must contain less than a 1000 songs… therefore, this page won’t be useful for you.

You can leave now…

Managing a huge iTunes playlist


If you are like me and music is important to you, and if you want to organize your play lists, just follow this page advice and share your experience.


BTW, I am using iTunes for 20 years.


That might not be the perfect choice, but for the time being, I didn’t find a better solution for my huge library.
With iTunes you can manage a 300 000 songs music collection with ease.


iTunes offers a great way to manages play lists, playlist folders and to select and view songs.


iTunes is not flawless, far from it. But some smart iTunes users created great scripts or softwares, fixing some of its weakest functionalities.


Dupin, for example, has a great and efficient way for finding songs duplicates.
Other apps will let you find tags for your library. We will talk about this later in this post.


I use my library at Ruby Soho bar. For a public place a good music organization is necessary, and as well indispensable for a private music collection.


Is the use of downloaded songs legal or illicit?


I’m 48, and I bought my first album at 12. I remember that like if it was yesterday... 

AC/DC “Back in Black” and Iron Maiden “Peace of mind” in vinyl.
Until the age of 35, I bought a lot of albums, vinyls and CDs and after that I bought them on legal platforms. 

I spent a lot of money in the music industry.
But for a few years, I download my albums on Pirate Bay, without minding. 

I strongly believe I paid enough for music for the 10 lives to come (anyway, my project would be too expensive if used only legal downloads).

The right manner to grow and manage your playlist

First at all, I try to discover new songs. There are many ways to do so:
You can search by genre and artists online by yourself, with YouTube and others... friends' suggestions or specialized websites are good too.
To grow my library, I used my personal knowledge in music, websites, friends' advice, or iTunes Music.
iTunes Music has a paying subscription, but it is cheap if you compare it to all the songs you gain access to.
And what I love in ITunes Music, is the way they suggest you new songs matching what you are listening to.
This is helpful in my research. I start by a musician or band I like, and the iTunes Music suggestions will make me move to something new.
Problem for me with ITunes Music is that even if it connects you to their huge bank of music, it is still not mine…
When I like something, I am downloading on Pirate Bay and easily get what I want.


Sometimes also I do massive downloads. Every year, I check different styles on illicit platform and I download them all... 

For example Hip Hop 2018, Metal 2018...

The way you will find your music will be personal, the goal being to make a library that matches your expectations.
The difficulty is to organize your playlist efficiently.

Organizing a iTunes play list

 

I got about 300 000 songs in my library… and tell me about a gigantic work to manage! 

This post goal is to share efficient ways that can make the task at hands easier and faster.
A huge number of songs is like a huge pile of CDs...


First, I download everything in .flac format to get the best sound resolution.

FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is an audio coding format for lossless compression of digital audio, and is also the name of the free software project producing the FLAC tools, the reference software package that includes a codec implementation. Digital audio compressed by FLAC’s algorithm can typically be reduced to between 50 and 70 percent of its original size and decompress to an identical copy of the original audio data. (Wikipedia)


iTunes don’t read .flac, so I need to convert my files in Apple lossless files.
I do this with a small program called Music Converter Pro, easy to use and fast.
But mostly when you download music on illicit platforms, the tags of the files are wrong.
For this before import the files in my library, I use Music Brainz Picard to fix the tags.

I will explain in details the different ways of edit tags in a dedicated post.


Picard is a free software that works with fingerprint identification, a fantastic one, but limiting the album approach... 


After this, I can import my files in my library.
I will write a dedicated article about importing music as my way to import files will save you a lot of time.


But for now, let’s say you want to import files in your library.
What to do when you face one mountain of music like this in your library?


My approach is to organize everything in play lists, with different songs quality level.
I consider my music collection like a massive songs folder needing fixing, and in an organized way.


The first thing I did years ago was to create several playlist by genres. 
At start the main ones, Rock, Pop etc... and I switched faster to something more detailed, for example Rock will segmented in Light Rock, Southern Rock, Classic Rock, Rock-and-roll, Rockabilly, Punk Rock...


If you construct detailed play lists folders, your organization will be more efficient.

We now got several play lists where we will place our songs.
Notice that some songs can be in multiple play lists.
For example, “Sweet Home Alabama” from Lynyrd Skynyrd will be in Classic Rock, Southern Rock and more according to your playlist.
To recognize the songs already in a playlist, I use the iTunes stars rating.
The star rating is also perfect to give a quality level to every song, from zero to five stars.
Zero stars are not in play lists, one and two stars are the bad songs, they are not in playlist too because I don’t like them, but the task becomes cleaner and organized.


For the three to five stars songs in the playlist, the number of stars is according to the quality of the songs.

Because I base this organization on my personal judgement, a fast process is nearly impossible, the only one way is to listen the songs and place them in play lists.
Never-ending story... But with experience we can speed up this work.
Before import the files I always edit tags with Picard.

Several softwares can be helpful to edit tags in iTunes.


I use TuneUp; TuneUp works like an app attached to ITunes, and you can slide the songs in the TuneUp window and search, edit and save the new tags in ITunes.
The problem is, you can’t fix your entire library at once. But, over time, I eventually got near 100% of my tags properly done.
For the files that TuneUp does not recognize, only a manual work can do, like with Shazam and editing in ITunes. 

In this kind of library, I download several times the same titles.
The duplicates are a problem, but organizing them properly is important.


For popular songs, like Michael Jackson “Billie Jean”, the title can be duplicate from the original album Thriller and from a Best Off album. 
Be careful with the live versions of the same titles.
It exists four versions of Billie Jean, but they are not duplicates, just different versions. I consider them as duplicates, anyway.


How to find them and how to delete them in this shitload pile of music?


Notice than over time, your playlist will contain many duplicate, and a title will be in a playlist, and its duplicate in another one.
I am not sure if I’m clear, for example 5 years ago I placed Billie Jean in POP playlist, but then I created a new playlist named 80s and I placed another Billie Jean inside.
This is the reason I don’t delete the duplicates in my entire library, but only in play lists.
If someday I rate all my songs and clean them, I will make a thorough cleanse of the library to remove duplicates, but not soon.


Work in progress…


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