Check out this article from Lifehacker. I’ve been taking advantage of this feature and really, it’s very, very nice. The way I’ve got it set up is that I have a folder called “Rules,” which basically is a bunch of smart playlists in iTunes that ask for all music classified by certain genres to be put into that particular playlist (so there’s one for Metal, one for Instrumentals, one for Classical, one for Rock, one for Soundtracks, etc.). Then that folder is collapsed, so I don’t use those unless I want to add another subcategory to one of the lists (like Industrial to Electronic, for example). Then, I have another folder called “Shufflers,” which is basically a list of the same playlists, only these ones only have two simple rules:
1. Playlist .. is … “Metal” (for example), and
2. Last Played … is not in the last … “1″ … weeks
(Click on the above image to see a fullscreen view of my setup)
So when I click on a playlist (named after the genre it represents) in the “Shufflers” folder, and hit enter (or the “Play” button on my Mac keyboard), it begins playing all songs by the genres specified in the “Rules” playlist that haven’t been played in the last week… one at a time, of course. For especially long lists (like Metal, for example…I like my metal), the number of weeks can be increased, so I can listen to my entire library or metal before repeating any songs over again (mine’s huge). Each playlist is set to shuffle, so I don’t hear the same artist back to back (extremely rare, iTunes is very good at shuffling). And finally, I use this plugin, called DeskTunes, for Quicksilver that puts a little bit of imagery on my desktop (usually just the album art, song and artist name and a rating grid for rating each song as it plays) that I can conveniently see just below the edge of any program window I have open (designer’s genius? I wonder…), and I can take a brief second to rate the song currently playing as I’m listening to it and going about my business on the computer. It’s actually quite a nice setup… heh, and I’m enjoying it pretty well. I’ve been thinking about adding new genre playlists recently, but I suppose I’ll try to listen to everything, then see what hasn’t been played fully yet, and then make a playlist for those songs and see how that one goes. My thought it it’ll be just fine :).
Hope this is helpful and even fun for some of you out there, I know I enjoyed discovering that I didn’t have to listen to straight artists and be disappointed when their music ended and I only had a little of it and then something completely different began… that was a weird feeling to go from As Tall As Lions Amon Amarth sometimes. It’s cool to learn you can shuffle a lot of artists and still enjoy the music listening experience. In a way I almost enjoy it more. I get to discover all this new music I knew I had but had never listened to before… it’s a fun thing to do. So for all you music and iTunes junkies out there, enjoy the trick, and let me know how your setup goes in the comments below!