Merging iTunes Playlists

Dave Cracked Up (Blog), Music/Audio, Opinions, Personal, Tech Leave a Comment

I use iTunes Genius feature a lot.

I’ve mentioned it a couple of times on IHR.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it’s a feature that was released with version 8 of iTunes back in 2008.  It introduced a couple of different things:

  1. It’d suggest albums and songs based upon what you played from your library
  2. It could construct playlists from a song from your own library.

I use the second feature pretty extensively.  In verson 9 of iTunes, they introduced Genius Mixes.  Which present 12 (at least in my library) different genre mixes from your own library.  Right now, iTunes has categorized my Genius Mixes as:

Punk, Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Brit-Pop & Rock, Classic Rock, Adult Alternative Pop, Metal, Hard Rock & Stoner Rock, New Wave, Jazz, Soundtracks and Power Pop.

All this isn’t available unless you let Apple take a look at your library – which I know is kind of a sticking point with some people – especially if privacy is an issue.  When you enable Genius, it apparently uploads information about your entire library to analyze and then spits back something that iTunes can use to do it’s Genius stuff.

Anyways, getting back to the point of this post – merging playlists.

I’ve enjoyed the, sometimes odd, mixes that Genius creates from a song that I select.  There’s much debate on how it’s actually accomplished, but, I’m guessing it’s a combination of the purchase data that iTunes has combined with other users’ library information.  Couple all that with genre, BPM, release date, etc. you probably have a hefty algorithm that generates these lists.

Well, over the past few days, I’ve been listening to “summer-appropriate” mixes.  One day, I selected a Jack Johnson tune as a seed and got a fantastic list of a 100 songs that weaved through a lot of different things.  The next day, I selected a Bedouin Soundclash tune that went down an even different path.  Then for the heck of it, i selected an Eagles of Death Metal tune and created a mix from that.

At the end of the three days, I thought – it’d be really cool if I could merge those three lists and get a real mix that I could just drop into and press “play” on.

Got me twiddling around to see what I could do – this is what I did:

  1. I went into each list in my Genius column, right clicked on it and selected “Export”.  In the dialog box, I selected Plain Text – this generates a tab-delimited file of the mix.
  2. I then imported the lists into Excel and got a 300-row list of music.
  3. I inserted a column at the front of the list and labeled it “Random”
    I did this step because I didnt’ just want to re-import the list and have to use the “shuffle” function – I wanted a random list that I could drop into at any point and not have to hear a similar song from the last play.  … I know, a bit anal and odd, but that’s me. 🙂
  4. In the Random column, I inserted the Excel function “=RAND()” which essentially returns a random number that is greater than or equal to 0 and less than 1 – I copied this function down the list.
  5. I then selected all the data in the sheet and sorted the sheet (Data|Sort) by the Random column.
  6. I deleted the Random column and then exported the sheet as a tab-delimited file.
  7. Back in iTunes, I went to File | Library | Import Playlist and selected the text file.

Voila, a merged and randomized playlist which I entitled “Summer Phun” – which should be good for the next couple of weeks, or until I get into another mood… 😉

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