When does a “play count” count?

Q: How long does a tune have to play before it is considered “played” and the play count incremented? For example, if I play a song for 2 seconds then skip to the next song, is it considered that I “played” the song?

– Anonymous

A: For a song to be considered “played” by iTunes, it has to completely finish and advance to the next song automatically. In most cases, this makes perfect sense. Occasionally, however, this causes a minor problem, as in the case where there is extended (10, 20, 30 seconds worth of) clapping at the end of a song. On such songs, we have the urge to nudge the “Forward” button, losing our playcount. Normally, it doesn’t bother us at all, but if we’re feeling picky (and if we remember once we return to our computers), we chop off the applause at the end of the song using iTunes’ “Stop Time” option, found in the “Options” tab of the “Get Info” window for any particular song:

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Granted, this mean’s we’ll never get to hear that exciting applause on the go, but if the playcount is more important (for smart playlist purposes?), then it may be worth it.