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rating tracks - is it worth it?

Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 3:15 am
by garbanzo
even though i've been using digital music since the mid 90s, i have never used track ratings. this is mostly because i never knew how it would be useful. well, now that i have discovered MM, i can think of lots of ways that i could use track ratings, from filters to nodes to playlists. trouble is, i can't decide if it's worth it!

i have a small library compared to many forum members - just 5500 tracks. but this is still a massive undertaking. even if i can commit to rating 100 tracks every day, i'm still looking at nearly two months of work to rate my whole library.

i'd like to hear some opinions from other users. do you rate your tracks or not? why?

also, how do you handle 'trouble' tracks? for example, i have lots of recordings of mixes that various artists have done on radio shows. many of these are just one long mp3. similarly, i have lots of big long mp3s that are bootleg recordings from gigs. i was thinking of using zero stars for this sort of track - a kind of 'not applicable' system - but i'm not sure. then there are mixes that are split into different tracks, but are really not meant to be listened to out of order. hmm...

i think that if i do this, i will stick to full stars. this is mostly for compatibility with other apps and devices. for example CD Art Display only uses full stars, so i assume it would round up when displaying track information? anyway, half stars is just too fine a scale for me. i'd have enough trouble deciding whether a track is a 3 or a 4 :)

Re: rating tracks - is it worth it?

Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 8:39 am
by nohitter151
I absolutely need ratings - I find them essential for listening (how else can you quickly and easily set up a list of all the tracks you absolutely love?) It's also extremely useful when you have a portable device that you can't fit all of your music on - just make a few playlists limited to 4 or 5 star ratings!

If you don't want to rate tracks yourself you can always try an auto-rate script: ... 26#p119537

Re: rating tracks - is it worth it?

Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 11:34 am
by Lowlander
Ratings are essential for me. In combination with Auto-Playlists they determine what I listen to.

As for longer tracks or other tracks you might want to separate you could use Custom fields or the Length field to exclude these from Auto-Playlist.

Re: rating tracks - is it worth it?

Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 2:42 pm
by Dreadlau
I already rated 9K+ tracks.
For the same reasons as nohitter and lowlander.
And I use the half-stars:D
rating tracks - is it worth it?
I think it is. You'll regain eventually the time you took to rate your tracks.

Btw: I think there is no need to commit to rate 100tracks a day.
I mean:If you rate whenever you want, without really paying attention to it,
time will fly by. And in the end everything' gonna be alright :wink:
garbanzo wrote: also, how do you handle 'trouble' tracks? for example, i have lots of recordings of mixes that various artists have done on radio shows. many of these are just one long mp3. similarly, i have lots of big long mp3s that are bootleg recordings from gigs. i was thinking of using zero stars for this sort of track - a kind of 'not applicable' system - but i'm not sure.
You could rate them like any other tracks.
Then use the "track length" (gold feature) in your autoplaylist(s)

Re: rating tracks - is it worth it?

Posted: Fri Dec 26, 2008 6:45 am
by garbanzo
thanks for all the replies :)

i've had some time the last few days to experiment with this. just set up hotkeys for rating and do it as i listen to my whole library on shuffle.

it's harder than i imagined :(

the biggest problem is i listen to a lot of different styles of music, and what i listen to depends very much on my mood. my ratings, it seems, are less a reflection of my opinion of a track, and more an indicator of my current mood. the past few days i've been really in the mood for female vocalists in the folk/pop genres for some reason, which means all my hip hop, electronic, and rock are getting biased ratings.

also i keep running into tracks that are awful on their own, but when played as part of the album they come from, they are indispensable. what to do?

finally, since i really only get music i like, most tracks i've rated are coming in at 4 or 5. i don't think that's too useful :)

the one good thing that's come out of it is that i have deleted some albums that i realized i just don't listen to. i like the idea of the album, but not the album itself...

anyway i'll keep going for a week or so, then decide what to do. i really like how ratings look in the CAD skin i'm using which is an incentive to keep going!

Re: rating tracks - is it worth it?

Posted: Sat Dec 27, 2008 6:16 am
by MM3 monkey
Yes, I would say make sure you are really sure about your rating system before you try and get all your 5500 tracks rated at speed.

You're in a good position; make the most of it. There are many many different factors to consider.

Rating 5500 tracks will take no time. Just try and get it right. All your mental wrangling that you're going through now is well justified! It's an art that you will never master. But in real use, the ratings will only be one of the ways you use to select what to listen to, so it doesn't matter if they are a little bit all over the place.

There are 11 of them, not 5, don't forget - it gives quite a bit of freedom but just try to get a good feel for all your music with ratings in mind before you try to go on a major mission to get everything rated.

Autorate Accurate could be right up your street - or not, you'll have to decide. But you're in the perfect position to start using it, not having ratings already.

Re: rating tracks - is it worth it?

Posted: Sun Dec 28, 2008 10:55 am
by Lowlander
My ratings reflect how much I appreciate the particular song in it's genre. This means that through auto-playlists I can select which genre (or set of genera's) I'm in the mood for and play only those with 5 stars.

You might be aware but you also have a few more classification options besides genre. You have for example Mood as a classification option and you can add your own values. These classification options in combination with ratings might provide a powerful way to auto-play songs for you.

If you only keep songs you like ratings of course become less useful as you only keep the high rated songs. I'd strongly advice to keep complete albums and spring for the bigger hard drive is required. The nice thing about computers and MediaMonkey is that you can keep all these tracks without being disturbed by them and if the need rises in the future to listen to them (some peoples tastes change over time or you have changing room mates/living partners) you have them available to you.
On the other hand you could still uses a scale of 1 to 5 for the tracks you keep, where a 1 rating would still mean that you like the track, just not as much as a 5 star track. You could also reserve the lower ratings for tracks that individually are bad, but in an album are fine. If I'm not mistaken there is a script that can join tracks together for playback (without physically joining the tracks).

It all also depends on the way you prefer to listen to your music. I for one hate albums and need to a have a good mix. This makes ratings essential for more as it reflects my appreciation of the individual track. If on the other hand you always play albums you might want to rate all tracks the same to reflect your appreciation of the album.

I'd advice to think this through as changing your opinion and thus requiring retagging on a large library can be quit an undertaking.

Re: rating tracks - is it worth it?

Posted: Sun Dec 28, 2008 12:28 pm
by Owyn
I have been using Last.FM since about May 2007.

The listening history maintained by is a great guide to what you really like.

Re: rating tracks - is it worth it?

Posted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:04 am
by garbanzo
well, i have pretty much decided not to go through with track ratings. i've payed close attention to my listening habits over the last several days, and i'm realizing that i'm really an album person. i don't have any single tracks, and i have very few soundtracks/compilations. instead, i tend to find artists that i like quite a lot, then get everything they have done. this usually just means all studio albums, unless they really change their sound during their career - sometimes i can justify not collecting everything because of this. for the few artists i really like, i even try to collect singles, EPs, promos, and the occasional bootleg if the quality is acceptable.

i do use shuffle, but usually just within a single artist or sub-genre. when i do, i'm not really listening - it's just something in the background while i'm working on a project and i'm focused elsewhere. if i'm listening to music for the sake of listening to music, especially when commuting, i play full albums.

i like the idea of track ratings, and i can picture myself using them occasionally, but getting from A to B is just not worth the gain.

i might go for the Mood, Tempo, Occasion tags, but i doubt it. these are just tooo subjective. it was hard enough to decide on a good system of genres!

thanks again for the input everyone :)

Re: rating tracks - is it worth it?

Posted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 7:41 am
by DaledeSilva
I only use 3 ratings commonly as I find it the best mix of usefulness and effort without confusion
When I used to use 5 I'd really commonly find myself stewing over whether a track was 4 stars or 5 stars or other pairs.
It made managing my collection too much of a chore and therefore listening to music too much of a chore instead of fun and relaxing.


2 stars ; means it's a track I can go without hearing again, but it's still in my library for 1 reason or another.
3 stars ; means it's a good song, but it doesn't necessarily hit the spot
4 stars ; it's a great track

the only time I use 1 star is to note that something is wrong with a track (ie, it has a skip in it or it's bad quality, and I should re rip it)

I don't mark favourite tracks 5 stars because 5 star compared to 4 star is affected by your most recent favourites as well as the mood you're in. Besides, if it's really the best song on the album or a current favourite, you'll know it by name.

so this way, I can quickly choose between 3 ratings without much pondering.
occasionally I might flick to 5 stars, but i don't have to stress about it because I know eventually I'll make it 4 stars anyway.

I've never used half stars because I don't see how you can possibly create anything that acurate that persists through your moods and years.


Re: rating tracks - is it worth it?

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:39 am
by Owyn
This topic has been gnawing at me ever since I saw it.

Historically, I have not used ratings a lot. Mainly because I kept losing them as I bounced between jukeboxes, os's and systems.

I will continue to use and test other players as need arises (e.g. working in Linux, use Amarok), but, MM will be my library manager for the foreseeable future. And, MM stores ratings in tags. :D

Play history has been even more volatile, however, I decided to go with a cloud based play history in 2007 and after checking around found a home in Last.Fm. In general this has worked well. I can aggregate my plays from any of a variety of players and instances of same in various OS. Just put in your credentials for Last.Fm and Bob's Your Uncle. This approach has not been without teething pains. Getting my opinion and Last.Fm's in synch about what is "proper" tagging has been a challenge. But, we have come to a compromise that, in general, also resulted in more portable tracks (think other players, portable players, etc.).

I have never had a clear definition in my own head of what any rating means. As a result, any ratings I currently have in my library are inconsistent.

Dale's definition
2 stars ; means it's a track I can go without hearing again, but it's still in my library for 1 reason or another.
3 stars ; means it's a good song, but it doesn't necessarily hit the spot
4 stars ; it's a great track
Seems like a good starting point.

I am going to let this gestate for a bit longer, but, I am likely to wipe all ratings from my Library and start over with a clean set of rules.

Working thoughts on this are:
-Top Albums based on Last.FM Overall Albums: 4 stars.
-Best Of collections: 3 stars.
-New listens, Liked. 3 stars. Keep playing it, 4 stars.
-New listens, Ok, but nothing special. 2 Stars.
-Hate this. 1 star.
-Individual tracks will continue to stand out. Base approach, add 1 star to album base rating. Last.FM Overall Track history will give a good checklist for first candidates for starhood.
-Unrated tracks will just be things I have either not listened to recently or I listened to and did just not feel like rating.

Need to fine tune this to handle e.g. duplicates in Library (i.e. rate best quality version of track).

Well, end of note to myself and the world.

Re: rating tracks - is it worth it?

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 8:19 am
by ModoX
I use ratings. I also only have about 5500 tracks, and after a year or two of rating still have a couple of thousand left. I did use all the ratings, with a lengthy text file explaining to me what was meant by each half star, it was fairly ridiculous I suppose. Anyway, I got a Creative Zen, which doesn't do half stars, which I didn't realise until I'd synced it back to MM and all my ratings got screwed up, I could've cried.

Nowadays, because I really need to be able to rate on the move, and because all 11 options was a bit mental, I stick to five stars, and it's much easier to choose how to rate stuff. I've got so much music that I've not given a proper chance, or albums that I only like a couple of songs on, without ratings I'd be constantly skipping tracks to get to something I'm in the mood for, especially when I don't know what I'm in the mood for. I would recommend it though really. How I rate tracks is mentioned below. And I can relate that some songs don't work as well outside of the context of their album, but I only use my ratings for how much I want to listen to single tracks. If I want an album on, I stick the album on. This has saved all my pained thinking about whether a song is 3 or 4 stars etc, I'm not rating the song's quality, just noting how often I want to listen to it.

1 Star - Crap or not bothered, or a skit or something
2 Stars - Alright, but I wouldn't listen to it outside of having the album on
3 Stars - Good song, I enjoy it but don't want to hear it loads
4 Stars - Really good, I'll almost always enjoy hearing it
5 Stars - Classics, not much goes in here and it takes a while for anything to make it to this status. It's a fairly useless rating this one, but it feels good to give 5 stars to a track that you feel really deserves it

Re: rating tracks - is it worth it?

Posted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:18 pm
by Funkafonik
After lots of trials and errors, I also came up with a 3-stars system, cuz to me, I don't see the point of having more than that. Here goes my definitions:

1 Star - Unlistened/0-plays or song that need more listens before I can make up my mind on rating 3-4-5. Everytime I add a new album, I rate all songs 1-star so it's easy to find and create playlists when I wanna dig in my new albums or unlistened/unrated songs.

2 Stars - Catch all, used for files I don't want in my 3-4-5 stars; Guitar Lessons, files needing re-ripping, files that aren't songs like artists speaking, joking, interviews, fillers, etc

3 Stars - Good songs that don't quite make it to 4-stars.
4 Stars - Really great songs, not perfect but really damn good.
5 Stars - Best Songs, my personal Best Of, overall perfect songs in my book.

Since I only wanna listen to music I actually like and enjoy, I don't bother keeping a star-rating for songs I don't really like or wanna hear again, I just press DELETE for those. Also, since I don't keep artists and albums I don't really like, I force myself to rate at least 1 or 2 songs in an album to 5-stars, so when I play randomly my 5-Stars playlist, I get songs from all my albums. But in the end, it's a matter of separating the songs you really like in between 4 and 5 stars. The rest you rate 3.

Re: rating tracks - is it worth it?

Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 6:46 am
by garbanzo
well, i did it. i rated all my tracks. i was home sick half of last week, and i spent two whole days sitting in front of my computer rating every song in my library. and i'm so glad i did! making autoplaylists works so much better now! plus, the whole exercise forced me to re-think my entire collection. i deleted about a gig of albums that received poor ratings.

i did it an artist at a time, and rated songs not on an overall scale, but on a scale relative to the artist's other works. it makes for a somewhat unbalanced playlist if i try to shuffle all 4 and 5 star tracks, but it works out for the better in the long run.

here's my breakdown. not too scientific...

5 - best of the best
4 - great song. i can sing along to it, and enjoy listening.
3 - average. i don't dislike it, but it represents the artist's work well.
2 - no thanks. usually intro tracks or intermissions, but very occasinoally a song that just irks me and i don't want to hear unless i'm listening to an album start to finish.
1 - other. usually reserved for live sets or radio recordings that contain several songs in one file. also for the few jazz or classical albums i have that are hard to rate, since i only listen to them very occasionally, and i more or less like all tracks equally. it also helps keep those tracks out of autoplaylists.

i also tagged all my track with album type, so live albums or live tracks can be left out of shuffles, since they usually don't mix well with studio tracks.

in the end i'm glad i did it. doing it while i was sick worked out great, i was able to get it all done in two days without feeling guilty and without going crazy since i wasn't all there mentally. it's great seeing my music collection take shape. i also just finished getting artist images for all tracks which i added to my foobar config (i use MM for tagging and organization but foobar for playing :oops: )

anyway that's my story. thanks to everyone who shared and helped me figure this all out!

Re: rating tracks - is it worth it?

Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 1:47 am
by Solitaire001
Although I'm late to the topic, I'll add my comments. I think that it is worth it to take the time to rate at least some of your tracks. One of the main things that I use ratings for is to control the tracks that are loaded on my player. Simply put, only rated tracks are loaded on my player.

As far as specific ratings go I keep it simple. I use 5 stars for my favorite tracks, and 3 stars for tracks that I want on my player and tend to keep there. Tracks that I rate 1 star are tracks that I want on my player temporarily (like podcasts and audiobooks that I'm currently listening to). For me, is about as detailed as I need to get concerning ratings.

I am taking time to add more detail to my tags, such as adding mood and tempo for some songs. This allows me to create more finely tuned auto playlists that allow me to better enjoy my music.