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Mars Report:

But I Don’t Want To Shuffle!

Published March 16th, 2005

And although there are times when I’m sure I would enjoy listening in shuffle mode, more often I am in the mood for particular kinds of music and don’t want to be switched from Barbara Streisand to U2 to Lyle Lovett at random.

You hear so much about Shuffle mode that I’m afraid some people get the impression that’s all an iPod can do. How else to explain my friend’s misconception that he might be forced to listen to inappropriate musical juxtapositions like Barbra Streisand and U2?

Another thing some humans don’t get until they use an iPod is that half of what makes the iPod a revolutionary experience is its symbiotic relationship with iTunes. When you take your iPod filled with music to the car, you will have any of the following choices in how to listen:

  • By Album (CD)
  • By Artist
  • By Playlist (your custom lists)
  • By Genre, or
  • By Song, either in order by song name or randomly.

An iTunes innovation that I’ve been using a lot lately is the "Smart Playlist". That’s a special kind of playlist that makes itself automatically and keeps itself updated as you add songs to your library. To make a smart playlist, you make some selections about what should be in the playlist, based on the information about each song. For example, you can choose:

  • Frequency of play
  • Date of last play
  • Song rating (you can rate the songs from 1 to 5)
  • Genre
  • Year
  • Length of song (some times you may be in the mood for only songs over 5 minutes long!)
  • And so on.

I have smart playlists set up to contain only my 5-star rated tunes in certain genres. These get updated as I update my ratings, and I always have my favorite tunes in particular genres ready to listen to at a moments notice.

*Groan* When I think about how long I used to labor over making custom cassettes of my favorite Bruce Springsteen or Elton John tracks, I marvel at this new time-saving invention! Not to mention my collection of Motown, Doo-Wop, Girl Group, Garage Rock… you name it! It’s now so easy, I can’t imagine how anyone could ever think they’d be forced to listen in shuffle mode if they didn’t want to.

With iTunes and an iPod, the possibilities for mixing your music into optimum listening sessions are limited only by your imagination. And for those of you with not much imagination, or not much time to exercise it, there’s always shuffle mode!

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