Music managment, and the future of

Ok, i have a problem.

My iTunes library has 1200 songs in it, not a massive number i know, But the thing is all this music is spread over so many genres and many time periods.
Personally i think the way we view music is appalling, iTunes looks like a spreadsheet, my playlists are alphabetical and i cant reorganise them. Its a very boring system and for a creative person its almost impossible to find, group and remember what i like and what i want to listen to.

Anyway i cant change that. So my problem is as i have grown up I’ve been through a number of phases. I used to like rock then heavy metal, briefly pop, then rock and now for the last two years I’ve been very big on electronic. I love everything about this genre and its grown massively since i have grown up. Now I only like a few of the old rock songs.

Its really annoying trying to navigate this library, since all my music is mixed up.


  • Do i go through my library and keep all my favorite songs, deleting everything else ?


  • Do I keep all the music I don’t listen to and invest alot of time into constantly managing the playlists, and never use shuffle ?


  • How do you manage your music, and do you listen to one genre or multiple ?

    Hopefully soon someone will design a visual, personal way of listening to music, because i’m not an accountant, and my music isn’t financial data…

Anyone have any good ideas ?

i have about double that in songs, plus about 1500 podcasts in my iTunes library. I actually don’t find management that difficult in terms of finding what I’m looking for. My tastes are also all over the place from jazz, classical, opera, hip hop, rock, electronic, lounge, soundtracks, etc. I don’t use playlists at all, really. I also don’t listen to music from iTunes, but rather on the iPhone. Depending what I’m looking for I either browse by genre, artist or album. Depends if I want something specific or more general (like feeling like jazz, but don’t have an album in mind).

Not sure the issue, really, but maybe it’s that I’m used to it. Been using iTunes since version 1 (had the original iPod first).


Main problem is I cant remember all the artists/songs.
So i use playlists to group them.

Recently added
Old favorites

That way if i can remember what the song was like or where i got it from i can find it. i wouldn’t be able to do that with one large libary

Most of that I think you can do without the need for playlists, or at least smart playlists. You can make playlists that have songs recently added, often played, and even by BPM (though I think you might have to add that field, not sure if it’s that smart). Plus using things like ratings (stars) you can get faves. needs a bit of work, but i think the power is there…

thing i’ve found is that you need to be somewhat diligent when adding tracks to categorize and add info so you can use it later. not perfect, i know, and for sure a more usable interface would be good. I esp. can’t understand the coverflow thing. nice eye candy, but pretty useless and also a pet peeve of mine when im holding the iPhone in landscape mode that it automatically switches to it.


I have 5,450 songs, and that is after I deleted a bunch… and I have about 5-10 albums I’ll be getting in the next couple of weeks.

I surf my music a lot of diferent ways.

Genre_ I have simplified my Genre list to browse more easily based on the way I listen into:


I also make a lot of playlists. The most important ones are the year playlists. I make a playlis for each year and drop the music into the year in which I BOUGHT the music
2006 (and before)

The second set of playlists are around emotion
Chill (more electronic lounge)
Meller (more indie sub-pop)
Downtime (sad)
Offender (angry)

Then I have playlists I base around people, events, places and so on. I travel alot, so I find having a lot of music helps… also the plane is a perfect place to hone my lists…

I’m sporting over 16,000+ songs in my iTunes library and I feel I’m pretty good at navigating through it all. I just lost 15GB of music and I’m bummed about it, going through and repurchasing/redownloading is a pain. Anything from 70’s afro-rock, Tasmanian tribal music, the latest electronica, Central/South American, Tom Waits, classic rock, hip hop, blah blah. all over the charts.

I’ve found it fairly easy to navigate and to use, mainly because I can remember the artist name that I want to play. If I had trouble recalling the artist name, I could see how it might be very difficult.

In fact, I’ve totally manually removed “Genre” from all of the tracks so I don’t have to deal with it. Not out of snobbery, but because the genre concept confuses me. It just doesn’t make sense for me to have that as an option. Like I would go down into genre, click an artist and then allow them to play through alphabetically within that genre? I tried it out, don’t like it. Sounds like we’re the opposite, actually.

And I don’t use playlists at all. If I’m feeling like listening to a specific genre/feel/mood/style, I’ll search out an artist which seems to embody that, I’ll click and let Genius do the rest. The only time I’ll make a playlist is to copy/burn a small collection of music to a friend, or organize the transfer to my iPod (so I can limit it down to 80GB to fit onto it).

A friend of mine (who organizes his iTunes library much differently) and I got into a discussion about the hows/whys/reasons we might organize differently, and the conclusion was that our brains are wired differently, just like all of us. Apple does a great job to organize and access the information efficiently, but it is certainly a general approach for the masses. The way you might organize your book library might be by genre, or by date, or by how much you like them, limited editions/first prints, or even by physical size, but mine might be organized alphabetically.

I also use the genius playlis option quite a bit, but I often use it as a foundation, or to augment a playlist I already have. I find it tends to pull up a lot of the same artists (who happen to have deep iTunes catalogs) and doesn’t seem to work as well for the more off beat stuff. Though I haven’t tried it on Fela Kuti… thats a 70’s Afro funk/rock joke.

I have playlists that come in handy but most of the time I just search for an artist I’m in the mood for. Don’t use much else.

I feel so old. Even on iTunes, I still listen to complete albums.

I’ve got over 50 gigs of music and It’s all baggage to me, I usually listen to streaming audio like Pandora or Digitally Imported. Anyways, i’m waiting for iTunes to host all the the music you buy for streaming, that would be nice.

How many of you have tried out spotify?

I do too, and I’m not that old. I have iTunes view on a grid of album covers and browse that way. I used to use the Cover Flow, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. Even though I’m a massive Radiohead fan boy, I still believe in complete albums. There are very few albums (1 or 2 maybe) I listen to where I skip songs. As Yo mentioned with his playlists by emotion, I have complete albums I listen to to get me chilled out, fired up, etc. Feeling pissed off and need to blow off steam? Dead Kennedy’s comes into the mix. And so on and so forth.

I can’t tell you the last time I listened to a complete album. It’s pretty rare. iTunes has really changed the way I interact with music. I remember getting a new CD, coming home, opening it up, listening to it front to back, reading the liner notes. Now I download an album, dump it into a playlist, sync my iPod and go.

Interesting seeing how you guys do it.

I think i will make a smart playlist to find all the lowest rated songs or all the lowest play counts, then go through that and delete stuff i dont like, also i will make some other smart playlists and tidy up the playlists i allready have.

Its annoying as hell not being able to remember who did a song or what its called. with rock songs a song about a girl called rosie will be called “lovley rosie” so thats easy to find, but for electronica a song will have no words or it will be about life in general and be called something completely different so its harder to find.
i wish you could choose what you remember because i know so much random stuff but cant remember what my favorite song is.

as for spotify yes i do have it, its very good, usa dosent have it yet, i like downloading other peoples playlists, i find alot of music that way.

@bngi I guess we’re revealing ourself as Europeans here :wink: Spotify is still not available in the US, right? I’m hooked on spotify and use it often even if I have the music on my hard drive. Not using any other system than what’s offered through spotify here. I see this as the future, “music in the cloud” with possibility to listen to some of this offline as well (spotify lets you set playlists for offline listening with the premium subscription, up to 3,333 tracks).

As far as iTunes go I find that having proper ID tags it all it takes (but I pretty much ignore the genres), no need to add any thing on top of that for organisation. I also tend to listen to albums, but recently started using iTunes Dj as I realised this also gave me queueing in iTunes (yay, I’ve missed this since my windows and winamp days!).

For my iphone and ipod I kinda like just setting it all on shuffle. …love a nice surprise :slight_smile:

I have about 12,400 songs on my itunes but I still listen to MOG Internet Radio or Pandora most of the time.

It’s interesting that today we don’t listen to whole albums, and what made albums so great in the past was that they were thought out to be a complete listening experience from the first track through the last. Today is all about singles, and most people probably listen to playlists they made or alphabetically. I rarely just download single songs on itunes, if I like one song Ill download the album because it always takes me a few listens to really get into a song.

What’s also interesting is where we get our music from now. Even though were still buying CD’s, more and more we are downloading music, but while that is happening we are also just listening to it through internet radio. I use MOG, so I don’t need to store music on my computer (although you see i have 12,000 songs). I pay 5.99 a month for unlimited music streaming of just about anything I want(minus the Beatles). Is that the next step, paying for living streaming, and now owning any actual tracks?

I think services like MOG are the future. Who wants one song for $.99 when I can access a catalogue from anywhere at $6.00? Having said that, I’m in the camp of radio listeners. Other than at work, where bandwidth is limited, most of the music I listen to is from radio stations (BBC 6 Music or WMNF @

I love hearing new music and if I don’t want top 40, I need to listen to radio stations outside of Montreal. The WMNF and BBC DJs are the best.

Check out Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current. Some great music with few commercials.

I’d love a pay for catalog service for music. I listen to Pandora, but I tend to get a lot of repeats.

If you go to you can sign up for $6 a month (or$25 for 6 months) and you can choose what you listen to from just about anyone. There are some limitation like no beatles, but for the most part I find everything I need. And there are user generated playlists where I find new music. And the quality is as good as it gets for streaming music. I love Pandora but there are a lot of repeats. Slacker Radio is good too, and with those two services there are iphone apps which is nice. I wish MOG would come out with an iphone app. but then what would be the point of having itunes if you had access to an unlimited library of music online?

Just saw you talking about MOG,

In europe we have Spotify… its amazing
They have iphone apps and desktop players, you can make playlists available offline too
Its like mog but x1000 times better.
for £9.99 per month you get unlimited music, no ads and all available offline

I think they are going to bring it to the us sometime in the future.