Over a year ago, I set out on a quest to rate all the songs in my iTunes library. Don’t ask me why–I’m a sucker for data, so I had dreams of all the cool scripts I could write and patterns I could find if each song in my library were categorized according to how much I liked it.
I’m not sure exactly how many songs I had then, but it was probably in the vicinity of 5,000. So even if I rated one song a second, it would have taken an hour and a half. What I decided to do, though, to be fair, was to listen to each song fully before rating it. If an average song is 3 minutes, we need to multiply that 1.5 hours by 180–270 hours! I was somewhat optimistic that this 270 hours would pass by quickly while I was working or what not.
I soon discovered that rating songs one-by-one in iTunes was a somewhat inefficient task, given that the only way to rate something was to go into iTunes and click on the little star for that particular song. Not a bad method if you’re already in iTunes, but if you are working on something else and would rather not have your workflow interrupted every 3 minutes, it’s less than optimal. So I wrote some software (iRateTunes) that let me rate songs with keystrokes, without going to iTunes.
(I also created a little app that showed me info about my iTunes library in the OS X status bar, including the number of songs left to be rated, and the total amount of time I’d spent listening to songs in iTunes. This was so I could monitor my progress)
Still, even with these tools, it was slow going. It turned out that the mental energy required to rate song after song was somewhat exhausting, so if I could get 100 done per day, that was good. Most days I got far fewer songs rated, and some not at all, depending on the intensity required by my work. An even more exhausting task was keeping a consistent standard with which to rate the songs. There are all sorts of options–should the ratings be relative to just the songs in my library? Or should it be relative to all the songs in pop culture? Should I try to keep a nice bell curve, so that there are about as many 1-star songs as 5-star songs, and far more 3-stars than either? In the end, I’m not sure I was super-consistent.
But anyway. Today, over a year after I began, my iTunesCount status bar reads: “6794/0 | 52.74” This means that I have 6794 songs in my library, and 0 are unrated! Finally! The 52.74 lets me know that the total amount of song air time with this iTunes library is 52.74 days (I created the library in July of 2004). That’s 1,265 hours! And I don’t let iTunes run while I’m not there listening.
Stats per rating category:
1-star: 443 songs (6.5%)
2-star: 801 songs (11.8%)
3-star: 2752 songs (40.5%)
4-star: 1836 songs (27%)
5-star: 962 songs (14.2%)