Cleaning an (iTunes) Library

For the first time ever, I’m finding that I need to organize my iTunes library. For the longest time merely having a couple of play lists varying by activity, genre, mood and sheer awesomeness was sufficient. Then I began needing to set some songs, particularly musicals, to not play while shuffling. Fine. Basic stuff.

But I’m about to run up against the 16 GB limit on my iPod touch. I never imagined this happening. My imagination was limited because I thought songs were from three to five minutes each and that an iTouch could hold around 3500 of them. I’m not a big movie watcher- the videos on my iPod are primarily lectures from schools like Yale and MIT that make online courses available to the public. These get deleted as I watch them and are thus not a long term factor.

Of course, then I downloaded a collection of Karajan conducted Symphonies. That pushed the average ‘song’ length on my iPod to over ten minutes, or thereabouts. Then there are other classical pieces that are anywhere from half an hour to over an hour long. The other thing about classical music is that there is so much of it. There are currently 1800 odd ‘songs’ in my iTunes library, but my iPod can’t take much more. Certainly not another collection of over 30 CD’s.

So here’s the question: how do I systematically go about removing songs from my iPod and/or iTunes library? With so much music it is difficult to recall “You know, I never liked that Fallout Boy/Panic at the Disco song with the long irrelevant name all that much” or “Beethoven’s Second simply lacks the energy of the Fifth and the Ninth, I don’t think it makes the cut.”

To complicate things, new music is being added all the time. My most recent addition is the soundtrack for Alice in Wonderland, which I’ve already listened to several times over despite not having seen the movie yet. It has about five reprises on the main theme. Do I cut them all out of hand? Do I spend the time to carefully decide which one is the best? There’s always the “don’t cut up the album” argument. I highly recommend the album, by the way, but if you only get one song, definitely the first track, “Alice’s Theme.”

So, given that I’m sure there are others of you who have had this problem, I ask: how do you recommend I tackle this task?

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New iPod Touch

My iPod recently broke down beyond repair and, being outside the warranty, I was encouraged to recycle it and get ten percent off a new one. I was going to get a nano, or maybe even a shuffle, believing that they suited my needs adequately at a lower price.
For better or worse, I was investigating this with my mother before a long anticipated brunch. She insisted upon getting me the iPod Touch as a replacement.
In order to display my mother’s bizarre mind reading prowess, allow me to outline the event precisely. We walk in and are directed to the concierge in charge of making appointments for broken devices, etc. I tell him the problem “It’s utterly and completely dead,” he runs tests to make sure I’m not just like the last idiot to come in and say that, confirms my diagnosis, and outlines my options considering that it is out of warranty. 1. Buy a new one at 10% off through the recycling program or 2. Trade it in for a used one, without a warranty, that will be cheaper than a new one.
My mother directs me to ‘go look at iPods.’ I carefully read all the specs and, despite the fact that my now deceased iPod was an iPod classic (with video, etc.), that the smallest Nano would suit my needs, but that I would be willing to settle for the older version of the shuffle. My one hesitation in buying the Nano would have been that it wouldn’t fit in my armband for running- I’d need to get a new one. This was small change compared to the difference between the classic and the nano, however, so I determined it wouldn’t be a problem. The reason I wanted a Nano rather than the Shuffle was the video capability. A few years ago I would have been perfectly satisfied without any video- this was the case when I was given the deceased iPod. I had never, in fact, made real use of the video capabilities until less than a month ago when I downloaded some free courses from Yale’s website. Even so, I decided, I was perfectly capable of downloading the audio only versions instead. It would involve losing some of the content, but not too much, I decided. In any case, I could always go back and look at the videos on my computer.
Thus I had almost talked myself down to a Shuffle when my mother walks up. “You’re getting a Touch, where are the Touches?”
She leaves me trying to translate the apps labeled in Chinese on the display Touch while she goes to make the purchase. I go back and interrupt her.
“I really don’t think this is necessary, I mean, all I need is a Nano.”
“I knew that’s what you were planning on getting.”
“I would have gotten a Shuffle, it’s so much cheaper, except that I want the video so that I can-”
“Do the Open Yale Courses, I know.”
She scares me sometimes.

In any case, this is a call for help. The only worse thing than a very bad piece of technology is a very good piece of technology that the user doesn’t know how to operate. Therefore, please, take pity on me. Let me know all the cool things that my new iPod Touch will be capable of when my mother brings it by in a few hours. (I ran home from our brunch) How should I use it? What features do I need to be aware of. Don’t allow me to be the poor sod who walks into the Apple Store saying that his iPod isn’t working when, in fact, he simply doesn’t know what he’s doing.