iTunes ratings

If you look at the ratings for my quick reviews, you’ll see that each star rating has a descriptive label associated with it. For example, a two-star rating is “Disappointing”, three stars is “Solid and enjoyable”, and four stars is “Recommended”. I use these extra descriptions as guidelines for myself when I’m assigning a rating, to try and keep ratings consistent over time. I have a tendency to be over-generous with ratings, and I need a way to keep myself grounded.

I realized this morning, though, that I don’t have a similar set of descriptions for the star ratings I give to music in my iTunes library. I’ve just been dishing out stars because of what the music feels like at the time, without giving much thought to why it ends up with a particular rating. With only five choices (1-5 stars, no in-betweens), you’d think that the options would be limited enough to eliminate most grey areas, but now that become aware of what I’m doing, it feels haphazard. I’m not a compulsive categorizer, but it feels nice to have some kind of a system for when I do want to rate things. So here are my new definitions for assigning music ratings:

  • 5 stars : An absolute favourite song, that I like listening to again and again. Must have this available on the iPod at all times.
  • 4 stars : An good song that I like listening to both in an album context, on its own, and mixed in with other playlists.
  • 3 stars : I’ll usually only listen to this song when I’m listening to the whole album it appears on.
  • 2 stars : I’ll usually skip this song if it comes up while I’m playing an album.
  • 1 star : I could live a happy and fulfilling life without ever hearing this song again.

(Note that “no stars” means “not rated yet” rather than “worst song in the world EVER”. The ones that are so bad just get removed from the library.)

Do you have a consistent way of rating music?

One Reply to “iTunes ratings”

  1. Hi,

    Yes strangely enough, I use pretty much the same reasoning for rating! My five star tracks tend to be “current favourites” – if I hear a track and want to hear it again soon – I rate it as five stars. Then when I jump in the car – I just put my 5 star playlist on if I’m not sure what to listen too. I also have a “Fresh 5 Stars” which gets rid of any 5 star tracks above a certain playcount.

    I also have promotion and demotion smart playlists which show if I am getting bored of a song based on play/skip counts.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a “play count is less than skip count” string for smart playlists!

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