What's on your iPod?

by Volker Weber

This is an interesting study by Paul Lamere:

Have you ever wondered what is on all of those iPods out there? I did a little study of some iPod data graciously provided by Mark Young of the iTunes Registry. The iTunes registry is a site where folks upload their iTunes usage data and see all sorts of aggregate statistics about what genres, artists and songs are popular. I was interested in looking at individual iPod usage patterns. This iTunes registry data was perfect for this. It had data for over 5,600 iPod users (anonymized of course). Now obviously this isn't exactly scientific. These were self-selecting users, who were geeky enough to want to upload their iTunes data to a website. They are probably not your typical iPod user (but its the best data I have). Here's what I found:

Read the whole post. I come to a different conclusion: An iPod does not need more than 10 gig of storage. Currently the 4 gig Nano might be your best choice.

[via Janko]


I guess that really depends on the usage pattern. I for once didn't want to think about which music to take with me on my iPod (at the time it still worked, before the disc crashed). I want all my music there and I want to be able to just dig up any music I feel like listening to.

I originally even went so far to say the iPod should be my single point of storage for all my digital music. But that proved to be a little risky since at least my iPod crashed everynow and then a needed a reformat. If it were the only place my music had been, I would have had to restart the whole collection all over...

Ragnar Schierholz, 2006-05-24

I got my new toy (iPod Photo 30GB) last saturday. 18 GB already in use and it will grow i think. The iPod nano has the best size in relation to the storage you can use. But 4 GB is a little less.
I see it the way Ragnar sees. Before I got my iPod i had a mp3 player with 256 MB and before traveling I had to copy the music that i thought i would like to hear on the travel. Now there is no need to think about it, because all music I have is everytime available.
But nevertheless it's still a toy ;-)

Michael Klüsener, 2006-05-24

Well, my music rated with five stars currently sums up close to 4GB so I agree with Volker on this one.

Philipp Sury, 2006-05-24

Another difference in individual usage patterns: I never bothered to actually rate the music on my iPod. I put it on there, that's enough. If I don't like it, I don't put it on the iPod, if it's on there I want to listen to it (everynow and then). Again, I(!) like the diversity of the random shuffle and that's my preference. But actually, as far as the rating is concerned, I see a low overall rating percentage in the survey results as well.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2006-05-24

Vilfredo wonders if perhaps someone slept through his lectures.

David Richardson, 2006-05-24

I'm pretty sure my iTunes stats don't line up with what's listed but I can't verify that til I get home. I'm planning on doing a blog posting related to this tonight or tomorrow.

It's unfortunate that the database is down now. I'd like to dig into the data some more. That kind of stuff is interesting. I don't want to feed any data into Last.fm because I don't get to see what else is getting fed into it.

I have a 2GB Nano and I think I get some pretty good coverage across my music library with it. I use a tiered Smart Playlist scheme that weights certain characteristics (rating, last played, date added, and some others) and feeds into a master playlist that the iPod pulls from. Then I just shuffle from the music that's on it from there and ignore the other controls on the iPod.

Having gone from a 512MB Shuffle to a 2GB Nano, I tend to think in terms of how much music I'm going to need (time-wise) in the amount of time that I'm going to be away from my laptop. Generally, it's less than the capacity of the Nano.

Scott Gentzen, 2006-05-24

Scott, would you be willing to share that smart playlist's characteristics? That sounds very interesting. My SP just combine genre and rating so I'm curious you mixed yours. =)

Philipp Sury, 2006-05-24

Preliminary results: 4017 songs, 3132 of them have been played at least once. That's almost 78%. I almost reversed the 80/20 rule. :)

If you filter out the songs that have only been played once the count drops to 1606. 565 have been played more than twice. Three tracks have been played more than 10 times, but one of them isn't really a song (it's a 3-second clip at the end of a single I have that got in the mix a lot because of the way Autofill works).

I'll go into it a little more in a post on my own blog and trackback (manually if I have to) to this post here if anyone wants to look.

I don't know if the SP thing really warrants a post of its own as it's mostly based on someone else's work. I blogged a little about it here posting the links to where I built most of this from. The breakthrough for me was that in iTunes, playlists are nestable.

I try to rate my songs when I listen to them because it plays into some of the filtering. A 1-star song is one that I don't like but haven't deleted. I have a pair of subtractive playlists that are in the main playlists to filter songs out at the beginning. There's a "No Like" that is the 1-star songs, and there's a "Holiday" one that filters the Holiday music out of the main mix (I have a lot of Christmas music but I don't listen to it in May). All of the playlists below exclude the contents of these playlists.

"Highest Rated" is rated higher than 3-stars, not played in the last 2 months, random and limited to 20 songs.

"Forgotten Favorites" is a subset of "Highest Rated" of songs that have a LastPlayed older than 8 months ago, random and limited to 200 tracks. Gives my faves a second chance if they're not getting in.

"Latest Additions" is added in the last 3 months, not played in the last 3 months between 1 and 10 minutes long and limited to 300 songs. This gives all of the newer tracks a chance to get in.

"Long Tracks" is songs over 10 minutes, not played in the last 3 months and limited to 5 songs. This gives the long songs a chance to get in but keeps the count low so they don't overwhelm things.

"Fresh" is not in any of the other playlists, not played in the last 3 months, random and limited to 300 songs. This picks up the rest of the stuff that slips through the cracks.

"Not Often Played" has a play count less than 4 and not played in the last 12 months.

"Mix" pulls from Fresh, Latest Additions, Not Often Played, Highest Rated, Long Tracks and Forgotten Favorites. It pulls from this pool at random and is limited to the space I have on the iPod after the podcasts are added (I manually change this number because Nanos don't have Autofill).

I fiddle around with the numbers occasionally. It's not perfect and I think there's more I can do yet to balance it out some more, but I think the mix comes out pretty good.

Scott Gentzen, 2006-05-25

Hey Scott, thank you very much, this is exactly the stimulus I was looking for. =) Especially the idea of nesting playlists is cool, I never really thought about it, although I have browsed the SP dialog dozens of times. =)

My iTunes features 7393 items with 5172 never played because I keep dragging the same favorites to my iPod - your ideas are gonna bring more diversity into it. Again, thanks a lot. =)

Philipp Sury, 2006-05-25

Scott, using your strategy of "Forgotten Favorites" iTunes dug up Antonin Dvorak's symphony "From The New World" and it sounds more beautiful than ever. =)

Again, thanks a lot for the inspiration, it means a whole lot to me. Thanks also to vowe for providing a place where these ideas can be exchanged.

Philipp Sury, 2006-05-25

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