PDA

View Full Version : What do Playlists mean to you?



ceejay
2006-11-04, 04:23
There have been some conflicting guesses in another thread about the importance of Playlists to this community, so here is a chance to do something better than guess.

(1) Never or very rarely use them
(2) Not a big problem: use static playlists for parties or similar, current features ok
(3) Use static playlists a lot, would like to see better features for managing them
(4) Want to use smart or dynamic playlists, not just static ones. Current iTunes integration and/or plugins are usable for me (though could be better!).
(5) Smart or dynamic playlists are very important, the current options are not good enough, really want to see this improved
(6) Critical: if playlist handling in slimserver isn't improved I'm out of here

Comments also welcome.

Ceejay

utowana
2006-11-04, 06:38
I love the concept of MusicIP and wish it was something that was (1) faster (I loaded it up, and 12 days later, it was only a third of the way thru validating my 15,000 "track" collection...so I bailed out on it), and (2) integrated more seamlessly (easily) with SS.

Skunk
2006-11-04, 07:57
Being in camp 1 is my own fault, because I haven't searched the forum or wiki. However my vote is still camp 5, as IMHO users shouldn't have to do searches to figure out features as inherent as playlists.

I was able to figure out random mix, and use it often.

Mark Lanctot
2006-11-04, 08:12
I voted for option 1. I've never used playlists, even before I used SlimServer.

The only thing I use playlists for is the Zapped playlist and occasional saving of a temporary playlist. Works fine for me.

stinkingpig
2006-11-04, 08:43
On 11/4/06, Mark Lanctot
> I voted for option 1. I've never used playlists, even before I used
> SlimServer.

Me too. I have one playlist, which is the Christmas music folder, shuffled.

--
"I spent all me tin with the ladies drinking gin,
So across the Western ocean I must wander" -- traditional

Nostromo
2006-11-04, 12:26
I voted for #5, but this should have been a multiple choice. I would have also voted for improved static playlist management, even if I only have a couple of them right now.

Right now, playlist management looks like an afterthought, as if you were supposed to use another app to create and manage your playlists. Improving Slimserver's UI would help a lot. Nobody would mourn the departure of those damn up and down arrows, even those of you who don't use playlists.

OTOH, smart playlists is a very cool feature, IMO. Mind you, it doesn't have to be implemented exactly like Apple's smart playlists. I want something that delivers smartplaylist-like functionality. I want Slimserver to automatically generate playlists based on certain criterion specified by me.

In a sense, the current browse function delivers crude smartplaylist-like functionality. If you select "browse by genre", then scroll down to "rock" and press play, Slimserver will automatically generate a playlist containing only rock songs. So if you do that, you're already using smart playlists (sort of), even though they're not Erland's dynamic playlists. But its all very crude. It will play the good songs, and the crappy ones. Wouldn't it be nice, for example, to listen just to the good songs (those, say, rated 3 stars and more?)

ceejay
2006-11-04, 14:50
snapshot of the results as of the time of this posts:

10 - 5 - 2 - 5 - 8 - 1 (31 posts so far).

Observation 1 - roughly half voted for 1 or 2, ie happy the way things are.

Observation 2 - at this point, 151 people have viewed the thread, which suggests that 121 people didn't care enough to vote! Actually, I know that isn't fair - I presume you can't vote if you're not registered, and another snapshot of the forum right now shows 19 registered users and 98 guests which is not far off the same ratio... Who are all these lurkers, anyway?? (Spooky voice: join us......)

Ceejay

funkstar
2006-11-04, 15:08
i never use play lists, but then i listen to complete albums pretty much exclusively. I do keep meaning to add a few playlists for mix CDs i've created for people so i can get to them via my SB if i so desire, but i've not bothered so far :)

Nostromo
2006-11-04, 15:29
Smart or dynamic playlists are lists of songs automatically generated and managed by your computer, based on criteria specified by you.

There are many ways of achieving that. There's the Apple way and there's the Erland way.

Don't forget that you can also create crude smartplaylists by using the browse menu on your Squeezebox. Select "browse by genre", scroll down to "jazz" and then press play. Voilą! Slimserver will automatically generate a list of tracks, based on the criteria you just specified (genre = jazz)

So if you use that function, your are in fact using smartplaylists, even if you're not using Apple's smartplaylists or Erland's dynamic playlists plugin.

Now, the question is: is this good enough for me? My answer is "no". Its much too crude. I want slimserver to generate track lists, based on multiple criteria, like genre, artist, comment, rating...

Greg Erskine
2006-11-04, 15:36
Hi ceejay,

There wasn't really an option that suited me.

(1) Never use them

BECAUSE

(5) Playlists are important, but the current options don't work

IMHO, at the moment the only way to get 6.5.1 to work 99.9% is the set the playlist folder to [blank] and do a full rescan.

I'd like to see playlists work but I'm very happy with my current system. It would be icing on the cake.

regards

Wirrunna
2006-11-04, 18:11
I use the MusicIP plugin to generate playlists and sometimes name and save them.
Usually I will start by browsing for a track, then get MIP to generate a 50 track playlist and play it.
For most classical music or new CDs, I will listen to a complete album.

Yannzola
2006-11-04, 18:44
I just don't really grok the concept of "playlists". I abstain.

What I want is the ability to interact with my collection in a variety of ways. For instance: I want to organize songs and albums by genre/year/title/flavor/etc. I want Slimserver to learn what I like and dislike, and to allow me to make decisions based on this... or to have it make suggestions and suprise me. I want to press a button and have music play that is appropriate for different situations. I want it to be intuitive to interact with... and damn it I WANT IT TO WORK! Consistently and reliably.

I really don't care what metaphor is used... Dynamic Playlists, Smart Lists, Magic Mixes, etc. What I care about is ease of use and the final experience.

Siduhe
2006-11-05, 05:25
How you use playlists depends to some extent on how you listen to and interact with music. This is probably a very simplistic analysis but my impression is that most of the regular contributors here are very music "literate" - they think about it a lot, they've amassed extensive music collections, and they tend to be early adoptors of networked music technology like the Squeezebox. IMHO, this group is likely to have quite definite ways they want to listen to their music, have set up detailed structures for their music libraries, and they are more likely to play music per album or using fixed playlists created over time. Slimserver's pretty well set up to deal with this type of music interaction.

What Slimserver doesn't handle half as well is the person who has amassed a library of random music tracks (a la ITunes) and who wants to listen to it in semi-random fashion using dynamic playlists. This is becoming more and more the norm as increasing number of people put their music onto an Ipod and add odd tracks to their libraries using Itunes, Emusic, or copying from friends. This group tend just to want to access "music", not worry about music library structure. Ease of access and simplicity are key to this group. Slimserver isn't half as well set up to deal with this kind of use, although things like MusicIP and ITunes update go a long way to introducing this kind of functionality addon. These people tend to be the ones who post a couple of time only on the boards, saying that they can't get their playlists to work they way they want (usually the same way that ITunes does something) and that Slimserver doesn't work for them as a concept for that reason.

I think the question Ceejay may really be asking is how far should Slimserver go to appeal to the second group, recognising that it's an increasingly common way to interact with music ? If Slimserver wants to cross over into a mass-market product, then better playlist handling is essential - but I still question why it has to.

For myself, I use playlists a lot, but I'm pretty happy with the workarounds / additional functionality provided by MusicIP or Erland's plugins. Even if these sometimes can be a bit of "kludge" with Slimserver, it's better than losing any of the other music cataloguing functionality that comes with Slimserver in pursuit of a mass-market product.

Edited to say, I think this puts me in category 4 !

Nostromo
2006-11-05, 08:13
How you use playlists depends to some extent on how you listen to and interact with music.

I agree.


This is probably a very simplistic analysis

To say the least. And a bit insulting, too. I think you underestimate smart playlists. They are not merely tools to string together random music tracks. Like I pointed ou earlier, they're


Smart or dynamic playlists are lists of songs automatically generated and managed by your computer, based on criteria specified by you.

You have a database in your hands, why not use it?

I think people who only listen to albums are a bit old school. They've listened to albums all their lives and continue doing so on their Squeezebox. They're missing out, IMO.

Either that, or they listen to their music in certain way, like you pointed out, and they have no need for smart playlists. To me, the main use of smart playlists is listening music in the background while I do something else, like working or reading or whatever. Sometimes, I just want to listen to 20th century "classical" piano, or some string quartets, or my favorite jazz or my favorite chillout songs.

Siduhe
2006-11-05, 08:30
To say the least. And a bit insulting, too.

I think you may have misunderstood what I said. It certainly wasn't my intention to be insulting by describing many of the regular contributors here as being musically literate or by having fixed ideas about how they want to listen to their music.

I'm also a massive fan of smart playlists. But I think we are actually agreeing that Slimserver is setup better at the moment (without plugin functionality) to deal with the first group of people than the second.

stinkingpig
2006-11-05, 09:09
On 11/5/06, Nostromo
<Nostromo.2gt2301162739702 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:
> ...
> > This is probably a very simplistic analysis
>
> To say the least. And a bit insulting, too. I think you underestimate
....
> I think people who only listen to albums are a bit old school. They've
> listened to albums all their lives and continue doing so on their
> Squeezebox. They're missing out, IMO.
....

Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, this is pot :)

We're all pretty much motivated by the same thing IMHO, which is
getting the maximum enjoyment out of the music collection without
putting a lot of effort into it. While I am personally happy with
playing full albums and shuffling the whole collection, I do see the
attraction of smart playlists -- I just don't see it as being
attractive enough to run iTunes/MIP/Erland's plugins alongside the
Slimserver.

That said, you're probably right that there is a dividing line... I'm
reminded of the argument over iTunes and iPods, in which about half of
the commenters thought they're The Best UI Evaaaah, and the other half
bear A Pure Hatred. Much like this argument (or OS wars, or politics),
neither side could see where the other was coming from. Call it what
you will, it's worth realizing that Slimserver was written by and for
the latter group...

I dare say that the importance of smart playlists to the former group
is understood by this community, since it has been a regular
discussion of varying intensity for two years now, and drove the
relationship with Pandora. That being said, it's been a weather* issue
as far as the core product is concerned, possibly because over half
of the users don't care much (see poll results). As long as it appears
that plugins and partnerships are meeting the need, the developers
will stay focused on other important issues.

*Weather: everyone complains, but no one ever _does_ anything about it.
--
"I spent all me tin with the ladies drinking gin,
So across the Western ocean I must wander" -- traditional

ceejay
2006-11-05, 09:48
Mmmm, looked like it was going to warm up a bit there... the reason I posted this was because of a "debate" in the "slimserver 7.0 features" thread. Some posters were insistent that slimserver without smart playlists is a waste of space, others wondering what the fuss was about because they're not that important.

Now we have over 50 answers we can see a pattern (granted the bias inherent in asking registered users of this forum). There are indeed two distinct groups of users, roughly equal in number.

The "old school" ones who mainly listen to albums, or who at least are satisfied with relatively simple playlist facilities.

And the "ipod generation" who want to be helped to find interesting new ways of listening to music.

The main thing I wanted to achieve was to help both groups understand that the other group exists, and shouldn't be dismissed as freaks. Hopefully we've done that.

Thanks to all who voted and commented.

Ceejay

Nostromo
2006-11-05, 10:03
While I am personally happy with
playing full albums and shuffling the whole collection, I do see the
attraction of smart playlists -- I just don't see it as being
attractive enough to run iTunes/MIP/Erland's plugins alongside the
Slimserver.

So either you listen to albums or you shuffle your whole collection? You never shuffle by genre or by artist?

If you do shuffle by genre or by artist, I think you are doing something that is functionally identical to smart playlists. It may not be called a smart or dynamic playlist, but it does the same thing: the computer gives you a list of the tracks, based on the criteria you specified (genre, artist...) So, in a sense, you're using smart playlists without even nowing it.

I think people focus to much on the particular implementations and not on what these things actually do, on their function.

stinkingpig
2006-11-05, 11:47
On 11/5/06, Nostromo
<Nostromo.2gt76b1162746301 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:
> ...
> So either you listen to albums or you shuffle your whole collection?
> You never shuffle by genre or by artist?
>
> If you do shuffle by genre or by artist, I think you are doing
> something that is functionally identical to smart playlists. It may not
> be called a smart or dynamic playlist, but it does the same thing: the
> computer gives you a list of the tracks, based on the criteria you
> specified (genre, artist...) So, in a sense, you're using smart
> playlists without even knowing it.
> ...

I do know that it's there and that it's smart -- but I don't care
about it, because I don't use it. Not saying that it's a bad thing,
just that I don't need it. Now I certainly would appreciate an
integrated Last.FM/Pandora type of system that used local tracks
instead of Internet radio, as my bandwidth is not so good and Internet
radio tends to be unreliable. But, and this is a big one, it is not
important to me. I would appreciate it if it were there and probably
even use it once or twice a month, but I'm not going to ditch the
Slimserver/Squeezeboxes because it's not there.
--
"I spent all me tin with the ladies drinking gin,
So across the Western ocean I must wander" -- traditional

erland
2006-11-08, 23:41
(1) Never or very rarely use them
(2) Not a big problem: use static playlists for parties or similar, current features ok
(3) Use static playlists a lot, would like to see better features for managing them
(4) Want to use smart or dynamic playlists, not just static ones. Current iTunes integration and/or plugins are usable for me (though could be better!).
(5) Smart or dynamic playlists are very important, the current options are not good enough, really want to see this improved
(6) Critical: if playlist handling in slimserver isn't improved I'm out of here
I'm in category 4. I don't have a single static playlist so better managing of static playlists wouldn't mean anything to me. However, smart playlists are critical. I think Yannzola put it down quite well, its a matter of interacting with my music. The system should be able to suggest or give me ideas what I want to listen to.

Some examples:
- Ignore tracks I don't like
- Listen to "oldies" that I haven't listen to for a while
- Listen to my newly purchased music
- Listen to my top rated music

Also, smart playlists will in my opinion not work as long as slimserver continues to delete all statistics during every rescan. This is especially true when a full rescan is one of the first suggestion to solutions to many problems. Rating support is also critical for smart playlists to work good. Anyway, there are third party plugins available that makes it work good enough for me today, but I think a more user friendly solution where smart playlists was included in the slimserver core would make the functionallity available to more users.

ceejay
2006-11-09, 00:55
I suppose I should declare myself... I voted for 2, though it could have been 1. As always its a personal preference - I like to listen to albums the way they were intended. That's why my personal priority is for better methods of browsing and searching to those albums, particularly when some of the relevant information is NOT in the Album, Artist or Genre tags.

Here, with 65 votes now, we still have more-or-less equal numbers for 1+2 and 4+5.

Perhaps this will help the 4+5 people understand that, for whatever obscure reason, there really are genuine users of this stuff who don't care about smart playlists.

And, conversely, state a case for the development community that there are a lot of people who really do want smart playlists because that's how they want to listen to their music.

Thanks to all

Ceejay

smc2911
2006-11-09, 01:46
I do see the attraction of smart playlists -- I just don't see it as being attractive enough to run iTunes/MIP/Erland's plugins alongside the Slimserver.
This comment suggests that while the "smart playlist" options may have some benefits, the "cost" of installation outweighs this. I can understand this with iTunes and MIP (need another app installed and running), but Erland's plugins are so easy to install and use, I'd strongly encourage even the strongest sceptic to try them out. Before using them, I only listened to albums and really never used playlists. Now Erland's DynamicPlaylist is central to my listening approach (while still regularly listening to albums in their entirety).

poneeboy
2006-11-09, 14:47
I tried the itunes plugins and wasn't able to get them to work. Slim has this new database, its time to use it.

I've had enough of relying on third party apps for SS functionality. Every time I want to listen to some music I have to launch SS, itunes, Rhapsody and MusicIP. Every time my wife uses the computer, she closes them all down.

azinck3
2006-11-09, 15:00
Observation 2 - at this point, 151 people have viewed the thread, which suggests that 121 people didn't care enough to vote! Actually, I know that isn't fair - I presume you can't vote if you're not registered, and another snapshot of the forum right now shows 19 registered users and 98 guests which is not far off the same ratio... Who are all these lurkers, anyway?? (Spooky voice: join us......)


FWIW, I often browse the forums without bothering to log in until I want to post something. So that may explain some of that.

Mister-E
2006-11-09, 16:16
I've said it before, I'll say it again: Forget smart playlists, how about some basic playlist management!??!?!!?

Slimserver's playlist management features (and I use those words very loosely) are completely pathetic. Slow, monstrous, unhelpful. Everything you'd expect from v0.1beta software. Why did they even bother?

I use static playlists, but only because I have other software (Muzicman) which actually does the job.

If I had to rely solely on Slimserver, I'd never use static playlists, and just build my playlist each time, which is apparently what most people do, because Slimserver sucks so bad at the job.

Anybody who has 2k-10k or more songs, and DOESN'T use playlists, deserves no sympathy, because they clearly have no interest in managing their music collections. They probably have all their music mis-tagged and sitting in one big folder.

Yes, static playlist management is CRUCIAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET A CLUE, SLIMSERVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

ceejay
2006-11-09, 16:25
Anybody who has 2k-10k or more songs, and DOESN'T use playlists, deserves no sympathy, because they clearly have no interest in managing their music collections. They probably have all their music mis-tagged and sitting in one big folder.

Yes, static playlist management is CRUCIAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET A CLUE, SLIMSERVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh dear, this is rather the point where we came in... please don't abuse me, or the other "1" or "2" responders to the poll, because our usage pattern doesn't match yours! I have 7500 "songs", very carefully tagged and managed, and have no interest in playlists. I'm clearly not alone. Look at the poll results and observe the diverging views.

Ceejay.

Ken
2006-11-09, 16:25
Inspired by this debate I took a quick look at Erland's plug in site. I'm no wiser as to what it does and how or what I have to install.

Apathy rules! That's probably why I voted for smarter management of static playlists.

Ken

Ken
2006-11-09, 16:30
Can anyone offer a decent static playlist manager that can cope with flac files as well as mp3?

erland
2006-11-10, 11:39
Inspired by this debate I took a quick look at Erland's plug in site. I'm no wiser as to what it does and how or what I have to install.I know this isn't the correct thread to have a discussion, but I thought it might be a good idea to list the existing third party plugins related to smart playlists:

Included with slimserver:
=========================
- iTunes (Makes it possible to use iTunes smart playlists in slimserver and also to import ratings from iTunes)
- MusicMagic (Makes it possible to create smart mixes based on selected artist, album, track and also to import ratings from MusicMagic/MusicIP)
- MoodLogic (Makes it possible to create smart mixes based on selected artist, album, track, I'm not sure if it also imports ratings from MoodLogic)
- RandomMix (Makes it possible to play random tracks, albums, artists in one or several selected genres)

Not included with slimserver
============================
- iTunes Update (Makes it possible to export play counts, played time, ratings from slimserver to iTunes, makes it also possible to rate tracks in slimserver. A "must have" if iTunes smart playlists shall be recalculated based on played songs in slimserver.)
- iTunes Party Shuffle (Makes it possible to create a Party Shuffle playlist from iTunes)
- Dynamic Playlist (A stupid plugin that does nothing by itself but makes it easier for other plugins to implement dynamic playlists and also collects all playlists beneath a single menu)
- TrackStat (Makes it possible to rate songs on SqueezeBox and implements a persistent storage of statistic data such as play counts, played time, ratings that survives slimserver rescans. Also implements export/import from/to iTunes/MusicMagic if they are running on a different machine/OS than slimserver. Sends rating dynamically to MusicMagic when songs are rated in slimserver. TrackStat also makes a lot of predefined smart playlists based on statistics available through DynamicPlayList)
- SQLPlayList (Makes it possible to create smart playlists directly in slimserver without any external software besides plugins, the playlists are created with a wizard and generates SQL code that can be edited manually)
- RandomPlayList (Very similar to RandomMix, the main difference is that it supports to also exclude genres and makes its playlists available through the DynamicPlayList plugin)

I have probably missed some plugin not mentioned above so don't see this as the complete list. Besides the plugins mentioned above there are also a number of playlist related internet radio plugins and some search/browse plugins available. There are also several plugins that are related to management of static playlists. See the plugin page for more information:
http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?SlimServerPlugins

We probably don't want this thread to turn into a thread full of questions about how to use the plugins, so please post questions related to plugin usage in the "3rd party plugins" section instead.

Zten
2006-11-10, 12:07
Ceejay,
I listen to my squeezebox three ways:
1) Search for an Album, play it
2) Search for a Song, Play it
3) Play my "favorite songs" playlist in random order and just let it roll.

the third option is the one I do the MOST. my favorite songs playlist is large with 1380 songs. It took a long time to construct. Then I had the unfortunate issue happen where when upgrading SS software, my playlist somehow got deleted and/or SS was no longer able to read it. I reconstructed the playlist and the same thing happend to me again. That was bad, so the third time I did it I did it a different way. Intead of using the SS playlist, I changed the ID3 tag. All my "Favorite Songs" I gave them the Genre of "Chamber Music". Only songs I listen to when I am in my Chambers. If somebody else doesn't like them, they can leave the chamber! :o)

Anyway, this has worked well for me. Now when I want to random play my "favorite songs", I just search for "chamber Music" and hit play. Last weekend I had a bad time upgrading to 6.5.0. I stepped back to 6.3.0 to fix my woes, but I was worried it would somehow smoke my playlist. No worries, though. Since my playlist is actually strored within each music file's ID3 tag, there is no SS error that could accidentally delete or corrupt my playlist. So I am a happy camper now!