vrijdag 4 januari 2013

Approximating iTunes DJ in iTunes 11

iTunes 11 has generated both praise and revolt in the online community because it is a mix of both improvements and regressions. One of the most annoying things for me and many others is the omission of the iTunes DJ feature. Apple's idea was to replace it with the “Up Next” feature, but it is not the same. What I liked a lot about iTunes DJ is that it was a regular playlist that I could easily tweak and I could see all the desired information about upcoming songs at a glance. The Up Next feature requires a click on a button to temporarily view a severely limited list of what is coming next, and manipulating it is a hassle.
It is possible however to create a smart playlist that more or less behaves like the good old iTunes DJ.
The screenshot is pretty straightforward, it shows the most basic setup but you can tailor it to your needs with additional rules. The only essential things are the fixed limit “selected by random”, the “Live updating”, and the “Last played not in the last …”. All these things combined will automatically remove a played song and cause a new one to be added to the queue, just like in iTunes DJ. The time span for the “last played” rule is not essential, anything starting from 5 seconds should work. You can use a larger value if you want to avoid hearing the same song twice within a certain time span.

Next, make sure the playlist is sorted on the very first column (the one with the numbers and no header title), and disable shuffle. Then you can arrange the songs to your liking, and start playing. You will notice that whenever you remove songs, new ones will be added at the bottom just like in iTunes DJ. The only aspects in which this differs are:
  • The biggest drawback is that it is impossible to add specific songs to the playlist. If you want to play one or more specific songs that were not randomly picked, your best option is to use “Up Next” after all.
  • There is no practical way I know of to increase the chance that higher rated songs are played more often. Not a big deal for me since I never used this.
  • One cannot see the played songs, you will need to use a separate “recently played” smart playlist for this.
  • Of course the feature to let people vote for upcoming songs is still missing.

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