July 12th, 2005  |  Published in old and busted

So, harking back briefly to my fits over rating inflation, and in honor of PuddingTime! EiC Phil scoring an iPod for his birthday, comes this little scheme for rating songs on iTunes when space is going to be an eventual consideration. If Phil’s collection has grown apace since I last saw it in early 2001, it probably made a malign snicker be heard throughout the house when the Mini came through the door.

So here’s the scheme, track by track:

5 = most awesome

4 = album companions of 5 star songs

3 = must have

2 = album companions of 3 star songs

1 = novelty tracks, odd singles, orphans you want around

Expressed in terms of falling back gracefully as space runs out on your ‘pod:

  • Everything you want around, even the marginal cases (1-5, no unrated)

  • Complete albums of everything you want around (2-5)

  • Must-have singles plus all the best albums (3-5)

  • All the best albums (4-5)

  • most awesome singles (5)

The big drawback is probably “what to do when a song falls out of favor and theoretically drags all of its album-mates screaming into a lesser status with it?” That’s some re-rating right there, though even if you demote the single it doesn’t throw everything into chaos on the spot. It just means that the partial album might stick around in certain contexts.

No one said we could just throw discipline out the window. :-)

But the gain is that you get to keep albums together if that matters to you (and it does to me, because that’s the closest I get to “virtue listening:” honoring the artist’s intent now and then). Another gain is that you’re just a Smart Playlist away from keeping your albums together if you run out of space and iTunes menaces you with the “let me pick the songs I’m sure you’d prefer to keep on your iPod” message, which I fear and despise.

Another advantage: I have a hard time conceiving of rating music I actually plan to listen to/carry around with me on a scale of 1-5. I barely like doing it to things in which there’s some room for me to actually hate them, like a list of every movie I’ve ever seen. This way, I just have to deal with “really good,” “pretty good,” and “indifferent/seemed like a good idea at the time” And the only time it really matters is when the iPod’s involved. It’s all still there on the home machines, which have a lot more storage to play with.

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