Inert Detritus The Internet's dust bunnies

13 March 2007 @ 1pm

My Ears, Plugged Into a Fire Hydrant

(How do you like them mixed metaphors?) South by Southwest (SxSW) just released the 2007 bands torrent, a BitTorrent file with 739 MP3s from some of the artists performing at SxSW.

I run into large influxes of music, such as this one, quite often. I also just torrented the 2005 and 2006 SxSW torrents. I’m staring down a fire hose of music, with some 2000+ songs needing to be reviewed.

My music is organized in three ways. First, songs that I never want to listen to are unchecked. Since my iPod is only 40 GB, and my library is 65, I only sync checked songs plus certain playlists to the iPod. Second, I have songs labelled with “Ambient” if they’re background noise songs: little to no lyrics, better suited for coding or homework than for driving or exercising. Third, I have playlists that pull out songs that either have a play count of 0, or haven’t been listened to in X weeks or months. These are used to “re-review” songs that I’ve added but haven’t heard in a long time, and it’s another chance for me to say, “Oh, this song is great!” or “This is trash! This ought to be unchecked and forgotten!”

When I add in 2000 songs, like I will later this week with the SxSW torrents, all my “recreational” listening that I do in the car, walking around campus, will come to a halt. Every minute of semi-aware listening (mind you, this doesn’t include my listening at work: I put on music as white noise and space out when working on something) is dedicated to reviewing these songs. I’ll put the SxSW songs into a playlist, probably titled “SxSW Torrent”. Then, I’ll make a smart playlist, with the following rules: Is in playlist “SxSW Torrent”, and play count is 0, and only include checked songs. (Remind me to tell you how bad we need advanced boolean logic in iTunes playlists…) I’ll then randomize the playlist, right-click on it and “Copy to Play Order”, and then uncheck the random setting. This puts them in a random order, but iTunes won’t automatically reshuffle it when I hit play on the playlist.

Once the playlist is set up, it’s simple to review the songs. I start listening to them. As they finish, their play count increments, and they automatically disappear. If I skip them, I make note of where I stopped before I sync the iPod with iTunes. Any songs that are still in the playlist, but are before the song that I stopped at, are songs I’ve skipped. I’ll label them to be reviewed again in a month (sometimes I’ll get in a weird mood when listening to music and skip a song once that I actually enjoy listening to), and they’ll get unchecked so they’re no longer in my main playlists.

Complicated? Yes. Powerful? Absolutely. It took a while to figure out the ideal way to manage this review system, but now that it’s set up, it seems to work fairly well. I do wish that iTunes wasn’t such a hardass about the Skip Count: a song’s Skip Count is only incremented if you go to the next track sometime between 5 and 30 seconds into the song’s playback. It ought to increment the skip count if I skip while I’m more than 5 seconds into the song, and more than 5 seconds from the end.