Creating a “Most Played this Month” playlist

Q: I would like to find out what songs I have been listening to the most in the last month to make a ‘Best of the Month’ playlist. However, I cannot seem to find a way to get precisely this logic into a smart playlist. Any ideas?

– Tom

A: Unfortunately, this sort of playlist isn’t technically feasible without tricking your way into it.

By default, iTunes only records a total playcount and a Last Played date. Thus, if you played a song 45 times in January, and only once today, iTunes would only know that there were a total of 46 playcounts, and that you last played it today. Because a certain playcount is never explicitly associated with a play date, playlists which aim to track the number of plays within a certain time period are, simply, not possible.

However, there are two choices you can make:

First, if you’re willing to sacrifice your total playcounts, you can simply reset the playcounts to zero at the beginning of each month. This way, you ensure that a simple “Most Played” playlist, at the end of the month, reports exactly what you want it to. Simply save this track listing at the end of each month, before you reset the playcounts again, and you can keep a static “Best of XXXXXX” playlist as a lasting record for each month’s favorites.

Alternatively, if you’d rather sacrifice the specific set of logic you’re trying to establish than the ability to retain total playcounts, you could simply revert to a much less sophisticated smart playlist that simply keeps a list of the songs you have played at all in the last 30 days, sorted by their total playcount.

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