iTunes Power Tips For DJs: Part 2

Here is a continuation of tips from last week’s popular post:

By: Mike Charles

The prerequisite for today’s tip is the original write up, which you should read before continuing. Today we are going to talk about 3 complications I’ve encountered and how to solve each of them.

1.  The smart playlist is not smart enough!

There is a playlist inside of my “House” folder called “All House” which obviously needs to contain all the tracks considered “house” . My personal definition is anything that’s about 125 – 130 bpm but the smart playlist is also picking up tracks with genres of [Progressive House – about 135 bpm] and [Hard House – 140+ bpm].

There are two ways we can solve this. The first way is by adding exclusion criteria. See screenshot below for how to set this up.

The second is by using the “starts with” rule. Remember that the genre of all my house tracks is House – XXX.  So by using the following I can get the same result.

2. I followed tip #1, now I have to do the same to all my priority lists?

No you don’t, but you do need updating. Check this out:

Yeah how cool is that? You can build a smart playlist off of another smart playlist! So what we did here was change it to pull only tracks that are in the “All House” playlist, and of course, with the correct star rating.

3. This track is both groovy and mello!

I have a smart playlist that pulls all tracks with the genre of “House – Groove” and another that pulls “House – Mello”. The problem is that there is often a track that fits both categories.  iTunes has a field in the tag called “grouping” which is rarely used for any important info. To solve this problem we are going to re-purpose that field as a second genre field. See an example below.

So now that we have 2 genres for track, its a simple matter updating the selection criteria of our smart playlists:

Note that I had to change “match” in the upper left from “all” to “any”. Now even though our track has “House – Mello” in the genre field, it will make it into my groove playlist b/c of the grouping.

There you have it, three solutions for common problems you may have run into. Hopefully these tips may help you manage you own collection. Give it a try and see what works for you- you’ll be an iTunes Ninja no time.

Still Having problems?

in the comments of the last discussion, there was a good question from a reader about a common problem with using Itunes:

Has anyone else has any trouble with iTune 8 (on Mac OSX 10.5) not writing changed information to the track? I’ll edit the genre, name, ect,,, of a track but the next time I click on it to play it, all the information I’ve entered reverts back to it’s original state. =oS Almost as if the track were locked.

This is a problem that has plagued many different versions of Itunes. I recently delt with it in depth when trying to udate all of my album art work. It was amazing how little info was out there but eventually the issue was solved! The issue is simple, your getting songs from all over the place and many have been written with older ID3 tags that are not compatible by Itunes, so when you make changes to the song they dont “stick”. The only way I found to fix this problem was to batch change all of your tags to an older version 1.1 and then upgrade them to the current ID3 Version ID3 2.4. This can all be done very easilly directly in Itunes by right clicking a selected track or tracks.

-Ean Golden


iTunes Power Tips Continued 

The iTunes Power Tips series continues, check out the other articles in the series here!

iTunes Power Tips Part 1 | iTunes Power Tips Part 2 | iTunes Power Tips Part 3 | iTunes Power Tips Part 4

itunes tutorialssmart playliststaggingTipsTIPS FROM THE PROS
Comments (16)
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  • Dijital

    One of the best programs, in my opinion for tagging is one called Tag & Rename. Its not free, but its not expensive. It has saved me loads of time organizing my tracks

  • DJeff

    If anybody is interested check this out:

    It's great for managing ITunes…

    Cheers and keep up the great work!

  • binaryFX

    I followed most of the info from the first tutorial, and have found it invaluable in finding tracks quickly. I agree with the comments about there not being enough tag information native in iTunes. I have been delving into harmonic mixing and I have used the grouping tag to list my Camelot numbers. This poses a problem when I want to further classify tracks by their "feeling" such as dark, light, deep, so on and so on.

    I would like to know if anyone else has this same problem?

  • Mike Charles

    [quote comment="15664"]i'm using a PC and i can't quite find a great way to do this. i'm using mp3tag and am assuming its functionality is really similar to your mac based program. how would i convert any the file name to the format above? [/quote]

    Here is a comment from Big Al in the previous post.

    For Windows users I find TagScanner an excellent and FREE tagging tool. Grab it here:

  • DJ Q-Tee

    Another thing to check with files that won't update is whether they are read-only…

    Great post… Just glad to know that I am quite smart, as I've been using these techniques for over a year…

  • tobamai

    I maintain an itunes library because you can make smart playlists and traktor will automatically import them, but I've had nothing but problems with using itunes to actually manage files. For managing the filename and metadata I'm using foobar2000. It isn't user friendly and won't work the way you want right out of the box, but if you put some time into it then it will do just about anything you want.

  • dishevel

    first of all, mike, thanks for taking the time to write this up and answer our questions!

    question — i use beatport for about 99.9% of my downloads. i'd love to have everything filename-wise in your format:

    artist – track (mix name).mp3

    dishevel – just an example (original mix).mp3

    dishevel – another example (sasha remix).mp3

    i'm using a PC and i can't quite find a great way to do this. i'm using mp3tag and am assuming its functionality is really similar to your mac based program. how would i convert any the file name to the format above? yeah, it's really nitpicking, but the best i can get the example above to is:

    artist – track – mix name.mp3

    dishevel – just an example – original mix.mp3

    dishevel – another example – sasha remix.mp3

    any quick tips? thanks for the help.

  • Mike Charles

    [quote comment="15661"]I just wish there were more tagging fields available. =]


    After clicking get info, check out the "video" and "sorting" tabs where there are a bunch more, generally unused tag fields available.

    [quote comment="15662"]So i started using the grouping-tag.

    Bad idea, the label information is gone again since Traktor doesn't show the grouping-tag.


    Traktor Pro loads iTunes playlists every time you fire it up. So even though the grouping field will not display in Traktor, a smart playlist built off of the grouping field will still be available to you in the program.

  • w

    very good posting. thanks for that and for everything else you guys did so far.

    in my opinion itunes wil never be very good for organising large libraries because it simply uses too few tags and the few used tags aren't the same used by other programs. I really have no idea how to organize a big library of electronic music without a tag for the record label. In fact sometimes the label ist more important than the interpret (Basic Channel anyone?) Afaik a dedicated label-tag exists in the ID3 specs and it is used by by almost any other program like Amarok, Media Monkey and of course: Traktor . Most of the tracks I bought a Beatport include a label tag, but itunes never shows it.

    So i started using the grouping-tag.

    Bad idea, the label information is gone again since Traktor doesn't show the grouping-tag.

    Has anyone out there a good idea what to do with the label info?

    Since I'm a mac-user there's simply no alternative to itunes. perhaps Amarok

    really will come up with a native OSX-version, but Amarok wil never be integrated in Traktor in a such comfortable way itunes does…

    Perhaps there's a way to copy the tags from one field to the other. But every tagger i know for mac uses only the tags used by itunes.

    cheers, Walter

  • Jared

    One thing that I was experiencing with ID3 2.4 was that many tags would not save converted information unless I used a 3rd party program. I read up on line and apparently this is a common thing with 2.4 and iTunes has had some incompatibility problems with the format and it is recommended that you stay with 2.3. Since switching all my trax back.. No problems.. I would also really like to thank you guys for diving into the smart playlist stuff. It's made a huge difference in my already OCD organization. I just wish there were more tagging fields available. =]

    Keep up the good work.


  • Dj Nvidia


    Thanks for the post I am currently in the process of changing my ID3 tags on my songs with iTag.

    I am still a little worry that if I change too much of the track ID3 tags, that iTunes won't recognize it (and therefore neither will Traktor)…

    But so far no problem, so I'll let you all know if I hit a snag

  • Domas

    Just got done arranging my tracks following your tips in the first article. Great follow up. Will definitely try some of these tips out as well.


  • Mike Charles

    I'm glad my tips are helping people. That's what we are here to do. Ean brings up a very good point about iTunes troubles with album art. I've been slowly adding art to my tracks now that Traktor Pro has incorporated it. I'm going to try that one out myself.

    DJ AJ: While I can't answer all your questions at this time i do want to tell you, I STRONGLY recommend making copies of, or backing up your tracks before trying out any voodoo on them. The last thing you'd want is to lose all those tags, cues, and beatgrids you've worked hard on. Its better to err on the side of caution.

  • DJ Anthony Jacobs

    I don't know who I'm to thank here, Ean Or Mike, or Both! But thank you so much for recognizing and addressing this problem! Once again I love your work.

    Now that I think about it, this issue first began shortly after I tried to download album art from iTunes for the very first time in order to try-out Album art in Traktor Pro. Before this I have never had this issue with any version of iTunes.

    We are not quite do here yet… If you will, I still have a few questions:

    1) After trying out your suggestion to convert the ID3 of the "stuck" tracks from v2.4 to v1.1, I grabbed a couple of the known problem tracks and iTunes still would not overwrite the file to v1.1. Do I need to try to convert all of the tracks in my Library at once to see if it will "force" iTunes to make the conversion? Then do the same back up to v2.4?

    2) If so, before I do this… Will I loose any important meta-data from my tracks if I revert to v1.1 from v2.+ versions (ie: Traktor Pro, beatgrids, loops, cues ect,,)?

    3) You have recommended finally using ID3 v2.4,,, however I have heard that it has been known to be very "buggy" still and may cause problems with certain applications. I have had others recommend ID3 v2.3 as being the most reliable an stable version. What are your thoughts?

    Once again a BIG thanks for your help,,, This town I'm staying in at the moment seem to have little to no Mac "Genius" help… and info on this IS very scarce on the net (I've been searching for days).

  • Darrel

    Great post man . Using these smart playlists have have got my library so much more organized . Thanks!!!!!!