Getting the most out of iTunes

Tips and techniques of the trade

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Bob the Builder
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Getting the most out of iTunes

#1 Post by Bob the Builder » Thu Jan 20, 2005 8:00 pm

It seems that many DJ’s are now using iTunes for DJing. iTunes is a very good listening bit of software but is a little limiting for DJing, as it was never designed for this purpose.
This aside, how have you set up your iTunes to get the maximum out of it, for listening or DJing?

This is what I’ve done.
Added several genres ie Jazz Big Band swing, Jazz Dixieland, Jazz small swing combo, Jazz Bop, Rhythm and Blues, Retro Swing ect.
In the grouping field, I’ve put the record label name that the CD was issued under.
In the comments added: Recording date, Recording studio location, Recording label, Arranger and on smaller bands the line up.
Every song is rated. 5 & 4 star rating will work well on most Melbourne dance floors. 3 star rating is a song I would consider DJing, but just need a particular audience. 2 star rating is an average song and 1 star is the pits.
Created play lists for: 5, 4, & 3 star ratings. Decade recording dates ( 20’s, 30’s ect), Christmas songs.
Created a play list of songs I haven’t spun in a while, so I can pluck out songs while DJing. This helps be sound some what fresh every time I DJ.
Removed same recordings of songs, leaving the best sound quality version.
As well as inserted the relevant info into the Composer, Year and BPM field.

Brian
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trev
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#2 Post by trev » Thu Jan 20, 2005 11:59 pm

I'm fairly new to this DJing thing, but this is how I use i-Tunes:

I open two windows: one to search and one as the list of currently playing songs. When I find what i want in the search window I just drag and drop it into the playlist, and arrange on the fly as necessary.

I usually prepare a playlist (a subset of my collection - not a pre-organised sequence) before the event which is just a dumping ground for stuff I might play.

Also, i use the star ratings in a similar way. (5 makes me wanna bust out every time - 1 star is only kept on my machine so I don't wonder why track 11 is missing from a certain album)

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#3 Post by LindyChef » Fri Jan 21, 2005 1:00 pm

I use iTunes as a database to search for the songs I want to play ... Winamp is my actual output.

I only use iTunes on my laptop, where I purposely keep my music collection to be slightly smaller than the size of my iPod (that way my entire DJing collection can fit on my iPod). When listening to songs, 5 and 4 are great for most floors, 3 are songs I would consider for the right audience, and 1 and 2 are automatically viewed as deleteable to make way for new albums on the laptop. It's a great way to cull the herd.

Playlists for star ratings and what not are not something I think I need to do since they are quite easy to create on the fly.

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#4 Post by sonofvu » Mon Jan 24, 2005 2:35 pm

I use dj1800 on my mac and I have it setup so that it will use iTunes as the library. When I'm djing I go through my playlist in iTunes select a song and just click and drag the song over to one of the trays on the dj1800. I keep my playlist for the night on iTunes. I have my playlist separated by classic, groove, boogie woogie, charleston, etc. I also have stuff that gets my feet tapping and stuff that is not so good.

I also have playlist designed for teaching classes.
Yard work sucks. I would much rather dj.

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#5 Post by Zot » Mon Jan 24, 2005 10:59 pm

Yeah, I use a similar setup (iTunes + DJ-1800) which I recommend.

I do still use iTunes to DJ with occasionally, but I much prefer using DJ-1800 because of its support for previewing using an external audio device like the iMic.
"Take the worst of neo-swing and put it together with Glen Miller. The man thinks the Count is someone from a horror flick. Take pity on him and let him play two or three tunes. But be sure you have some errands to run." -- Bill Borgida

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Shanabanana
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#6 Post by Shanabanana » Tue Jan 25, 2005 8:57 am

I use the comment field as my major tool. I have a list of standard comments that I use: swing, bal, classic, groove, female vocal, male vocal, teaching, etc. I use these comments to make smart playlists or to help search (for example, if I want a classic-y song with a female vocal, it's an easy search). I also have standard tempo ranges set in my smart playlists that are based on the BPM field.

I use my ipod for teaching, so it helps to have the playlists pre-done so that I don't have to sort through 6000 songs to find the one I want.

I also listen to music constantly at work, and if I come across a song that I don't play enough, I drag it into a specific playlist so that I'll try to fit it in the next time I DJ.

Like Martin, I use Winamp as my output (so that I can cue off of itunes). I think that besides the inability to run two instances and specify a sound card, it's perfect for DJing.

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#7 Post by Nate Dogg » Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:21 am

A blog that may from time to time have some relevant stuff, all about iPod and related products.
http://www.ipoditude.com/

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#8 Post by sonofvu » Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:57 am

Shanabanana wrote:
Like Martin, I use Winamp as my output (so that I can cue off of itunes). I think that besides the inability to run two instances and specify a sound card, it's perfect for DJing.
In my early pc dj days I used to dj form my laptop using itunes and I would preview using my ipod. Problem is that the ipod has a small window and I couldn't tell what the info is. For instance if the name of the song is long. Also my disk drive capacity on my laptop is so much more than my ipod that I can't keep a synchronized playlist on both.
Yard work sucks. I would much rather dj.

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#9 Post by Shanabanana » Wed Feb 02, 2005 2:13 pm

sonofvu wrote:In my early pc dj days I used to dj form my laptop using itunes and I would preview using my ipod.
I love my ipod, but with 9000+ songs on it, it's a pain to queue from. Winamp is a totally acceptable (with some caveats) dummy program to play from, so I'm fine with it. I use my ipod as an emergency backup in case anything happens with my computer.

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#10 Post by sonofvu » Thu Feb 03, 2005 7:17 am

Shanabanana wrote:
sonofvu wrote:In my early pc dj days I used to dj form my laptop using itunes and I would preview using my ipod.
I love my ipod, but with 9000+ songs on it, it's a pain to queue from. Winamp is a totally acceptable (with some caveats) dummy program to play from, so I'm fine with it. I use my ipod as an emergency backup in case anything happens with my computer.
As a backup is definitely a good use for the ipod. I've had a laptop die on me at a dance. Busted out the ipod. I've forgotten my power cord at home. Bust out the ipod. I think it's one of the greatest device a dj could use for a backup.
Yard work sucks. I would much rather dj.

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#11 Post by Bob the Builder » Fri Feb 04, 2005 7:48 pm

Talking about Back ups and I'm not sure this is the best place to post this,

Can anyone explain is it OK to use your iPod as a back up to your mp4 files?

I've noticed when I've gone into my iPod though the back door in explorer that the file directory is very different, and when I did a test restore it did not have the rating information.

Can anyone take me through how the information is stored on our iPod and is it wise to use if as a back up?

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#12 Post by LindyChef » Fri Feb 04, 2005 9:12 pm

The ratings and some of other information is stored in a separate XML file (some of the info, like artist and album is stored directly on the ID tags).

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#13 Post by lipi » Sat Feb 05, 2005 2:14 am

in particular: all song specific data (artist, year, bpm, comments, etc.) are stored both in id3 tags and in a flat database, while all subjective (user specific) data (star rating, last played time, play count) are stored in a flat database only.

if you want to back the latter stuff up, you need to copy just one file. on mac os x, it will live in Users/USERNAME/Music/iTune and be called "iTunes 4 Music Library". on windows, it'll be in a similar place -- Documents and Settings/USERNAME/My Documents/My Music/iTunes sounds like a likely sort of place to look. i don't have a windows box in front of me right now, so i can't check.

btw, on a mac the database does not live in an xml file anymore (it used to in itunes 3) -- it's in a big nasty binary file now. it may still be in an xml file on windows, though i doubt it.

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#14 Post by Bob the Builder » Sat Feb 05, 2005 3:17 am

I think its still am XML file on Windows, that's the kind of file that is in there anyway.

Say if my computer died tomorrow and I lost all data on it.
When the computer is restored, I copy all the mp4 files back to by computer hard drive. Then I sync with my iPod to get back the ratings.

Would this work? Or would I have had to back up my "iTunes Music Library.xml" , "iTunes Music Library.xml & Temp File" ?

Windows location of these files is: C:\Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\My Music\iTunes

Brian

PS
If you are a windows user and you want to restore your MP4 files back to you PC here is how to do it.
link
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#15 Post by lipi » Mon Feb 07, 2005 7:16 pm

the short answer to your question, as mentioned before: no, this will not work. you have to back up the binary database separately. the ipod will not save your ratings.

the long answer below:

i experimented a little with my itunes library at work, on a windows box.

1) the database on windows is not xml, it's a binary file -- .idl, if you care.
2) the xml file, which indeed still exists on windows, gets generated from this idl database file when you start up itunes. there is no need to backup the xml file.

if you start up itunes without the xml file, it just generates a new one. without the idl file, it loses all song information and shows you an empty library and no user-defined playlists, as expected. you can recreate an idl file by importing all the songs into a "new" library. this takes, needless to say, a bloody long time, so i didn't feel like messing with it. you will lose "last played", "playcount", and "ratings" data when you reimport your mp3's in this way, as well as all your playlists.

if you don't believe me, try this: copy an mp3 file from your library into a different spot. now change the rating of the song in question in itunes. diff the virgin copy and the one in the library. they are bit-for-bit identical copies. "no id3 tags were harmed in the making of these ratings."

my advice: back up your idl db. it's only 14 mb for my 15,000 track library. idl files for most sanely sized collections will fit on a cd-r. after you copy all your songs back from your ipod, shut down itunes and copy your old backed up idl over the new one.

now, i don't have an ipod which will talk to my windows box (no firewire and too lazy to go steal a card somewhere), so it is possible that the ipod is tremendously devious when it syncs and copies the idl db, or at least the parts of it that apply to the songs and playlists it's sync'ing. do i think this is likely? no, absolutely not. possible? yes. if you want certainty, you will have to do a dry run of your disaster scenario. change the location of the library in itunes (thus creating a new library and keeping your old one safe), import a few mp3's in that new library, give them some ratings, sync to the ipod, nuke your new library, sync back from ipod to pc, and see what you're left with.

incidentally, m4p files bought from the itunes store you can restore from the store itself (again, without user rating, playcount, etc.). the store's supposed to keep track of all your purchases. i haven't actually tried whether this works as advertised, so caveat user.

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