iTunes 8

I know a lot of you bemoan the fact it grabs huge chunks of memory, and that it has the audacity to organise your music into folders for you. I know this but, as I run on a nice chunky PC with plenty of memory and I don’t really care WHERE my music is stored as long as I can get to it all, then suffice to say I’m a happy bunny when it comes to iTunes. Even more so with the latest version.

And, in particular, that little Genius button.

I have a stupid amount of music in my library, a lot of which I rarely listen to as well as several Christmas albums which I don’t WANT to listen to other than for the entire month of December (I don’t actually get a choice in that matter). Because I have a large library of music I find that, quite frequently, I “lose” an album or two.

Most usually it’ll be a newer album which will sit in my “Recently Added” Smart Playlist for 4 weeks before then disappearing into the depths of my library, wherein it will remain until a random encounter reminds me that it was actually pretty good and why aren’t I listening to it more often??

And this is where the Genius button comes into play.

The premise is simple, select a track, click the button and iTunes will present you with a playlist based on that track culled from your entire library.

What I’m guessing it’s doing is quite complex. Firstly it collates the details of your library (artist, track title, maybe genre?) and uploads that to the iTunes Store library. It then runs an algorithm that comparies the track with similar tracks that other users have bought, matches them based on some magical criteria and then sends that information back to your iTunes library, where it sits and waits until you click the Genius button.

After that, weekly updates are sent to and from your library and the iTunes Store library to make sure the Genius button has up-to-date information from which to make it’s best guess when compiling your Genius playlist for you.

The information sent to the iTunes Store is anonymous, and I’ll admit that I have a few albums that were… ahem.. appropriated through non-legal routes, but there has been no knock on the door and I can use those tracks to generate a Genius playlist.

The idea isn’t without some glitches. The information stored against the MP3 needs to match what the iTunes Store has and it would be nice if it was a little smarter, possibly using a best match kinda thing rather than (it seems) an exact match only.

But after using it for a week or so, I am already a fan. No more faffing about creating playlists by hand or by crafting some weird and wonderful Smart Playlist, instead find a track you like, click the Genius button and away you go!!

Genius.

9 comments

  1. I’m pretty impressed with Genius too. Very good, and I suspect can only get better.

    Still makes me wonder why they never bought last.fm though.

    1. Access to this data from earlier on
    2. Access to non – iPod/Tunes data
    3. Seemed like a very natural fit

    In fact I still wonder why they didn’t buy last.fm. I guess just not a very apple thing to do.

  2. I love Genius, especially on the go from the iPhone. I was never keen to create playlists (except smart playlists that update automatically), but Genius is working so well that I don’t hesitate to press the button whenever something I like comes up. It’s bringing up stuff I’d forgotten or ignored and breathing fresh air into my music collection.

  3. I’ve had a perfunctory look at it. As far as I can tell, it’s taking the ideas from Pandora, Musicovery and the like. I have no objections to that, I think it’s the way forward.

    Clearly I have to have a proper go with it soon 🙂

  4. I was initially sceptical about this feature but, you know what, it’s just excellent! I’ve got a lot of old timey/country blues/delta blues/gospel on my iTunes and it’s not too happy about recognising those kinds of music but… put in a Nirvana song and it churns up Foo Fighters, Mudhoney, Sonic Youth, Hole songs. Put in Rosanne Cash and it’ll spit out the best Willie Nelson, Carter Family, Lyle Lovett and Gillian Welch compilation that you could imagine. Sigur Ros will give you Brian Eno, Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes. Someone’s going to tell me the link between Dylan’s Rainy Day Women and led Zeppelin ‘Communication Breakdown’ though…
    Will spend some time today making up some Genius playlists for iPod.
    Henry

  5. Ahhh but I quite like the fact it throws in the occasional “huh???” moment, adds to the fun!!

    (of course this depends.. if you are chilling out you really don’t want, say, Rage Against the Machine upsetting the quiet karma)

  6. I think it is the programme for guys who used to make tapes for their new girlfriends. Now guys can do fab setlists for the new love’s iPod in moments.

  7. Now this is just plain spooky … I’ve just made up some Genius playlists to see what it would bring to the surface and, this is just puzzling. I made up 2 separate Gram Parsons playlists and most of what was in there, you’d kind of expect – Ryan Adams, Steve Earle, Gene Clark, The Byrds, Emmylou Harris etc But… I’ve got two CDs worth of Gram Parsons rarities on iTunes that I made up myself from live tapes, original vinyl, bootleg vinyl etc. I’ve also got some Louvin Brothers music on there that, again, I transferred from the original vinyl. The metadata on iTunes for these was all entered by myself. So, on both of the Gram Genius playlists, it pulled in songs from all of these sources. Now it’s great to be reminded of the Louvin Brothers original “The angels rejoiced last night” but how in the blessed name of Elvis, did it recognise these songs as being related to Gram Parsons. That’s just wierd….
    H

  8. How do I pay for it? Huh?!
    I’ve been buying records since I was 7 years old – so that’s 47 years worth of recorded music right there – and , not having a drugs habit, a drinking problem or extravagant tastes in clothes or lifestyle choices, I spend my spare cash on music.
    H

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