Friday, September 19, 2008

For your listening pleasure

I haven’t seen anyone mention iTunes’ new Genius feature yet. This is not to be confused with the genius tech people who will transfer all your files when you switch from Windows to Apple. No, no, no, this is something I’ve been wishing for since I got my very first Shuffle.

I should preface my remarks by saying I rarely listen to music when I run any more. I stopped when I had about six weeks left in training for my first half-marathon. The rules said you weren’t allowed to wear headphones, so I thought I should be prepared for silent runs. Turns out I prefer running sans music – one less gadget to deal with, I suppose. Also turns out that lots of runners break that rule. Who knew?

But I do pop the iPod into its little adapter thingy when I drive. To me, driving is boring and tedious and tiring. I do not love hitting the road. And living where I do (the Middle of Nowhere) means I have to hit the road to do anything – even my running routes are located near rivers that I have to drive to.

Anyway, with iTunes Genius (you’ll need the free software update to iTunes 8) you highlight a song in your music list, click on the Genius icon and it creates a playlist of up to 100 compatible songs (the default is 25). That doesn’t mean if you highlight “Baby Got Back” you’re going to get 100 hip-hop songs. The majority will be of that genre, but Genius trolls your music collection to find other songs that fit well with your highlighted selection.

This has been great for revisiting songs I’d forgotten I had, and also for listening to some of the free iTunes offerings that I’ve downloaded and then never played.

It’s also great for making a drive to town less, um, tedious.

One of the running playlists I compiled a long time ago included Bob Dylan’s “Thunder on the Mountain” and Jimmy Buffett’s “Elvis Presley Blues.” As an experiment, I clicked on the Dylan song to see if Genius would include the Buffett song. It did! I might have to recharge the Shuffle.

I’m sold. And if you’re the kind of person who loves wizardry and magic, you probably will be, as well.


PastaQueen said...

I've been meaning to try this feature, but it wants me to log into my iTunes account and I can't remember my password. Too many passwords!

ws said...

downloading iTunes 8 was such a traumatic experience that I don't want to mess with the Genius.

Anne M. said...

Thanks for reminding me about this. I'm very fond of Pandora and the Music Genome Project, and this sounds similar. Maybe I'll mess with it tomorrow :)

D said...

I'm late to the game on this, but holy cow the genius feature is cool. Technology is magic :)