I have about 4000 songs on my iTunes library, but sometimes it seems like I'm just listening to the same stuff over and over again and I get sick of it. I get lazy. I go for what I like best. And I'm really bad at discovering new music. Luckily, I figured out a way to take the music I already had and get more out of it.
We all have songs in our library that we've never heard, don't we? Okay, sometimes that's for good reason, but a lot of the time I just get lazy and keep skipping through shuffle 'til I find something I know I like.
Now, my all-time favourite feature of iTunes, and what ultimately led me to use it as my primary player (and also buy an iPod) is the "Smart Playlist" feature. It lets you create a playlist that's more like a search query. So you can make one that only shows your songs with three or more stars ("My Favourite Songs"). Or one that shows you all the new songs you've added in the past three weeks. Or all songs that aren't hip-hop (you know, for when the parents are over).
So recently I decided to make a Smart Playlist of songs in my library with a play count of zero - "Never Heard." Every time I listen to one of the songs, it comes off my list. I really have to pat myself on the back for this one - I'm finding it great! It's like I just added 10 or 20 CDs to my music collection. And this playlist is automatically synced to my iPod, so whether I listen to it at work or on the iPod, the list stays up-to-date.
Oh, and one last great Smart Playlist. As I go through the songs, I'm finding some that I like and giving them three or four stars. The playlist I made only lists my favourites that I've listened to within the past two weeks. It's called "Latest Mix-Tape." This is just how I used to make mix-tapes back in the day. Listen to a bunch of new music for a few weeks, then make a tape of my favourites. Now it's automatic.