Organize Your mp3 Collection: Playlists

By now, you’ve performed all the hard work. You’ve filled in all the metadata for each song, rated each song, found album art for each song and figured out that whole genre thing.

Now comes the easy part: Creating playlists.

All of your work comes up to this. Playlists are exactly what they sound like; lists of songs that you can create and group together. You can manually create them – for instance, I created my own Joshua Tree double album by creating a playlist of album tracks and B-sides. You can also create the digital equivalent of mixtapes by choosing your favorite songs, or songs for that special someone, and adding them to a playlist.

But the real magic is in auto playlists, or as iTunes calls them, smart playlists.

Auto playlists are automatically generated playlist based on criteria that you set, so that only certain songs are chosen. Want to hear every song from 1977 that you have? Create an auto playlist where year = 1977. Want to hear every song by Annie Lennox? Album artist = Annie Lennox. (If you labeled all Eurythmics songs with Annie Lennox as the album artist, then you’ll get both Annie Lennox and Eurythmics in your smart playlist. Just a bit of advice.)

Smart playlist editor in MusicBee

Here’s where it gets cool. Remember all that work you did rating every song? Now you can create auto playlists based on those ratings. Want to hear your all-time favorite songs? Create an auto playlist where Rating = five stars. Haven’t finished rating all of them? Rating = no stars gives you a playlist of all songs that haven’t been rated. Not sure whether to keep a song? Rating = one star. Listen to them and purge as needed.

If your auto playlist is too big, you can limit the number of songs, or select them randomly. You can have the playlist play in order or shuffle.

Other ideas for auto playlists

  • Playlists organized by genre. Play all punk rock songs by creating an auto-playlist where Genre=Punk.
  • Rarely played music. Last played = not in the last four weeks.
  • Singles. Go back into your metadata and put the word “Single” in the comments field. Then choose your year (Year=1983, for example) and choose Comments “contain” Single. Boom. All the singles from 1983 without including the album cuts from Men Without Hats’ Rhythm of Youth.
  • Want to hear a “Best of” compilation? For Teenage Fanclub, I created the following conditions: Artist=Teenage Fanclub, and Rating “is more than” 3 1/2 stars. That way I get all four- and five-star songs.
  • Did you fill out the composer field? Create an auto-playlist that features one songwriter. For instance, Composer=Prince will give you “Manic Monday” and “Nothing Compares 2 U” in addition to all of his songs.

Play with the auto-playlist feature. You can do pretty much anything with it. Happy listening!