iTunes Re-Rating

My new music workflow is pretty simple: put the CD through the Great CD Preservation Project meatgrinder at home, rip again at the office [but only because I can rip faster than I can upload-download], listen at work.

I have two iTunes smart playlists designed for new music: Recently Added [any song imported into iTunes in the last seven days] and Top Songs of the Last Month [four- and five-star songs imported in the last month]. I use a third smart playlist, Unrated Songs, to let me quickly rate new stuff.

What I’m finding, though, is that I’m sometimes … overly enthusiastic with ratings. Stuff that gets a five-star rating really only deserves a four, and stuff that deserves a three might get a four. Now, this over-rating on my part usually occurs when I’m in a good mood and/or really like the artist—especially if I’m new to them!—and want to really like the music. Four- and five-star rating can end up being a habit, and … then I end up with skewed results.

Ideally, this is what I’m going for in terms of what the ratings indicate:

  • Four stars: This song is really good. I could listen to it pretty regularly.
  • Three stars: This song is good.
  • Two stars: Ehhhh … skip.
  • One star: Never play this song again!

[Yeah, I end up un-checking one-starred songs so I never hear them again.]

An example: “Dry Lightning” from Bruce Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad. It’s a nice song, but in my book … not five stars. I rated it as such, though.

I’m wondering what strategies make sense for managing this better. [If you’re saying to yourself, “Geof, you’re overthinking this! This crap doesn’t matter!” … thanks. Now, go look at something else.] If you’ve got ideas, I’d like to hear them … somehow, re-rating my fours and fives doesn’t seem like a simple process.

28 thoughts on “iTunes Re-Rating”

  1. If you never want to hear a song again, wouldn’t it be better to just delete it anyway? For me, a 2-star rating is for songs I want to relisten to, and rerate for later. 1-star ratings are songs I’ll be nuking when I sync at home.

    I wish nested playlists updated dynamically…

  2. I baseline all my music at 2 stars, not 3 — I don’t really need a lot of resolution regarding how much I don’t like a song, but I do want the extra resolution for stuff I do like. 1 star is reserved for stuff that I just don’t want to hear.

    I definitely don’t delete songs just because I don’t like them. My tastes change, other people visit, sometimes it’s useful to hear the complete album, etc.

    Good thoughts from everyone about smart playlist ideas.

  3. While iTunes does have rudimentary support for half-stars, you can’t use that to do anything useful. If you rate a track as three and a half stars and have a Smart Playlist that lists all tracks with ratings higher than three stars, that three and a half star track won’t show up, only four and five star (and possibly four and a half star) tracks will.

    And you can’t create a Smart Playlist using half-star ratings either, so if you just want all of your tracks rated three and a half stars, you’re out of luck, unless you make a manual playlist.

    Until Apple fully supports half-star ratings, I wouldn’t bother.

    Oh, and the easiest way to use half-star ratings isn’t really through the applescripts linked above. I’d say easiest is to use Star, which not only allows for half-star ratings, but it also has Growl support so you can be alerted when iTunes plays songs that are unrated.

  4. Well, but I don’t find a terrible amount of utility in half-stars. I mean, there’s no functional difference in 3.5 stars out of 5.0 and 7.0 stars out of 10.0. How much resolution do we really need? I think that Apple got it right: five is enough to do the job.

    I’ve had the suggestion, which I’ve implemented, that one can define average as two, which gives you two resolution points for good—3 & 4—and one for great. Your resolution points for bad are 1 & unchecked. That’s working out for me, and even now, I’m finding it hard to do much difference between 3 & 4. I really only need five data points, really, which tells me that I could probably use 3 as average and be okay.

    I only made the switch two average=2 because I tend not to purchase and keep music that I’m not going to like, so my star distribution is going to be a right-skewed bell curve if average=3. I’m essentially monkeying with the data and playing a mind game with myself to fit my data to a curve, which is probably a bad idea.

  5. For what it’s worth since this is an old thread, what’s so difficult with re-rating? I agree that I often get over excited about a song and rate it hgher than it deserves in the long run, but it’s easy to rate on the go with the iPod! It’s actually a fun process. To paraphrase an earlier post, why do ratings have to be static. To me, it’s a fun process and enjoy the constant fine-tuning my music organization goes through!

  6. Seeing as everyone is talking about their playlist setup, I’ll give mine up too.

    I used to be a Windows Media Player fan, and was in above my head when I couldn’t browse songs by their star rating. After getting used to iTunes’ system I made 5 smart playlists, set to constantly update;

    1 Stars
    2 Stars
    3 Stars
    4 Stars
    5 Stars

    Yes, I named it “1 Stars”- I couldn’t bear for it to look different from the other categories by missing the “s”!
    I then made a playlist called “Unrated”, later renaming this to “0 Stars” so that it would be the first playlist on my list.

    I then made two playlists; “Albums/Singles” and “Freebies” to differentiate between the rubbish free CD’s you get in the newspapers.

    And, just for fun, a “100 all time classics” playlist so that I could have a neat little place with all of my absolute favorite songs.

    Anyway, in answer to your article- I used to beg for a ten star rating system, but I figure now that ten stars would take up too much width of my monitor! Besides, I’d only end up with the same problem. After all, what makes a song a 6 and not a 7?

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