Creating A Personal Radio Station With iTunes Smart Playlists

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This is a recipe for using iTunes Smart Playlists to create a personal radio station from your music library, which will play old favorites, new jams, and obscure stuff in ratios which you can tune yourself. The purpose of this isn’t to tell you how to handle your music, but rather to help you get more of out it. As such, consider every single rule to be a suggestion based on what works for me. This is also slightly involved for the iTunes novice, but shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes, and what is 15 minutes weighed against a new life of constantly rocking the fuck out?

The first thing we have to do is create several source playlists which we’ll use to funnel the proscribed ratios of classics, newness, and weirdness into your earholes.

Parts Is Parts

These are the bits and bobs which will, when combined, make your music-listening experience much better. I suggest making a new folder called Radio to hold these playlists, so they won’t clutter your sidebar.

  • Radio Core

    • Match All of the Following
    • Media Kind: Music
    • Last Skipped is not in the last 15 days
    • Special exemptions for stuff you don’t want to show up in the radio (e.g. live shows, or your own music)
    • No limit on size
  • Radio Most Played

    • Match All of the Following
    • Playlist is Radio Core
    • Limited to 1 GB
    • Ordered by Most Played
  • Radio Neglected

    • Match All of the Following
    • Playlist is Radio Core
    • Last played is not in the last 1 month
    • Limit to 500 MB
    • Order by random
  • Radio New

    • Match All of the Following
    • Playlist is Radio Core
    • Date Added is in the last 1 month
    • Limit 500 MB
    • Order by random
  • Radio Top Rated

    • Match All of the Following
    • Playlist is Radio Core
    • Rating is Greater Than 3 stars
    • Limit 1 GB
    • Order by Random
  • Radio Sprinkler

    • Match All of the Following
    • Playlist is Radio Core
    • Playlist is NOT Radio New
    • Playlist is NOT Radio Neglected
    • Playlist is NOT Radio Most Played
    • Playlist is NOT Radio Top Rated
    • Limit 500 MB
    • Order by random

The most important part of the above source playlists is the “Limit” field. We’re using it to tune just how much of each playlist gets into our overall radio playlist. Want to hear more of your favorites? Increase the limit. Now that we’ve got our source playlists set up, we can pour them into our main Radio playlist.

And Finally, Your Radio Station

This is your proper Radio playlist, the one you’ll click “play” on and listen to until it is time for bed.

  • Radio [Whatever!]
    • Match Any of the Following
    • Playlist is Radio New
    • Playlist is Radio Neglected
    • Playlist is Radio Most Played
    • Playlist is Radio Top Rated
    • Playlist is Sprinkler
    • No limit
    • Click the “Shuffle” button

This is the setup we use here at EFHQ North, and it works swimmingly. My own iTunes Radio just played Just Can’t Get Enough by Yaz, followed by Arlo Guthrie’s Los Angeles and R.E.M.’s Crazy. That is awesome. Comments and suggestions go to the usual place.

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My name is Phil Nelson and I make beautiful objects for a troubled world. I'm a designer / developer / writer / director / editor / narrator at Occipital.

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