iTunes Library Management [Part 3] – Smart Playlists

If you’ve followed the steps outlined in [Part 2], your iTunes music library should be sparkling clean – categorized by genre and sub-genre, and possibly any other groupings that are unique to your own preferences. At this point the hard work is out of the way, and you can begin to realize the fruits of your labor by creating what iTunes calls Smart Playlists. Looking back, if we were working with records or CDs here, the next step would be to grab our milk crates or CD binders and throw our categorized music into them in a logical way. This is what we are essentially doing, just in a more automated sense. 

There are a number of benefits for DJs who choose to utilize Smart Playlists.  The first and foremost is the time saved from manually creating your own crates/playlists. Not to say that manually creating your playlists is not recommended, but when you’re dealing with hundreds of songs, you want a quick and efficient method of grouping all of them together.  Secondly, provided your categorizing and tagging game is on point, the task of creating targeted, niche sets based on specific factors becomes extremely easy.  Even better, these playlists are updated on the fly and in real-time – in other words, new songs that are added to your iTunes library are automatically inserted into all the related smart playlists you’ve already created, meaning your crates will always remain current.

Genres & Eras

The best way to organize large amounts of music at once is to start big and then proceed to narrow down, or specialize. That being said, a good starting point is creating playlists based on genre and era. 

1. Select File - New Smart Playlist

2. Match the filter criteria to your preferences. I’ve separated my Hip Hop crates into 5 unique eras/crates, but you may feel differently about how you’d like to categorize them.

3. At this point it may be necessary to filter out some songs that you know will just not be played because they don’t mix well, or because they are not songs at all (possibly Interludes, Skits, etc.). Create another filter to exclude them.  For example, Grouping does not contain, ‘Slow’

4. To ensure that your ‘crate’ is filled with songs that you will likely play and to keep the fluff out, take advantage of the Ratings system. Create another filter to add only songs that are rated by you. It’s not necessary to get into entire 1-5 rating system, as I find the system very subjective. At least one star is fine for now.

5. Create and name your Smart Playlist. Make sure the Live Updating option is checked.

6. The result should be a group of crates that are separated by era allowing you to go either old school / current / in-between at the touch of a button. Not to mention each crate is filled with songs that you know you may actually play. 

Note: If you’re comfortable using the Ratings System, you can take it one step further to narrow down your crate to just ‘bangers’, by only including songs that are 3 stars and up.

Each time you add new music that meets these conditions you’ve set, it will be added to your crates automatically.

Sub-Genres & Specialty

You can also create sub-crates within crates. For example, let’s keep with the Hip Hop crates. Instead of hand picking and dragging all your Underground Hip Hop into a separate crate, why not iTunes do it for you. Provided that you’ve properly tagged your Groupings field, this task is simple.

1. Create another Smart Playlist

2. Match the filter criteria to your preferences. In this case, Grouping = Underground

3. Add any other filters you’d like – Ratings, Exclude certain Artists, etc.

4. Create and name the Playlist.

5. You’ve now created a Sub-Genre crate which will allow you to play longer, more impactful sets. As a DJ, you can maintain the emotional mood of the crowd longer, or play with them by changing up your genres quickly. Not to mention you’ll be able to find the songs you’re looking for much quicker.

Some DJs like to put their crates together based on BPM. You have this option as well, simply select the filter and set your BPM ranges. This has somewhat of the same effect as the above point.

If you’d like to create a Specialty crate to play an unusual set, use the Groupings you’ve specified to do so. For example, if you were looking to play a set of all Timbaland produced music, or West Coast Hip Hop, or Crunk, make sure your songs are tagged properly. Then simply choose your filters as you like.

As you will notice by the number of filters available, there is almost an unlimited amount of flexibility using Smart Playlists to create your crates. Use them to your advantage, and by all means get creative. 

Using your iTunes Playlists with your DVS Platform

The last step involves integrating your crates into your DVS platform so you can actually play. Within Serato (my platform of choice), simply enter the Setup menu, and click on Library. The select, ‘Read iTunes Library’. After selecting this option, your system will read your iTunes library file, and list all of your crates as if you were still in iTunes. 

That should be it. My purpose of creating this series was not to proclaim that I had the one and only solution to organizing music in iTunes, as I’m just not that naïve. My only intention really, was to pass on some knowledge and hopefully point out some interesting methods to expand peoples’ existing systems. Enjoy.

Smart PlaylistsSmart Playlists

2 thoughts on “iTunes Library Management [Part 3] – Smart Playlists”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *