Making playlists in iTunes is easy enough, but beaTunes makes it even better. beaTunes analyzes your music so you can build playlists of similar sounding music, and the playlists it builds are surprisingly good.
beaTunes is an application that works in parallel to iTunes instead of as a plug-in. Installation is drag-and-drop easy, and the first time you launch it, youill be taken by the hand through analyzing your iTunes library.
If you have a big library, consider selecting a subset of your music to start with. It can take quite a while for beaTunes to churn through a 30GB music library. Trust me. As a matter of fact, I recommend starting the analyzation process in the afternoon, and let it run through the night.
When beaTunes is analyzing your music, it can also check for typographic errors and other discrepancies. I always thought I had a pretty clean and accurate library - until beaTunes took a look at it. For example, it alerted me to one album with Harry Connick Jr. as the artist, and another with Harry Conick, Jr. Both were CDs I ripped to my iTunes collection, and both were using CDDB data.
Since CDDB data is typically added by average-joe users that arenit worried about accuracy, itis easy to end up with two or more Harry Connick Jr. spellings. beaTunes did a great job of finding those instances and letting me correct them. It also found that I had Rock and rock as genres, so I merged them into a single genre.
beaTunes helps clean up music tag errors.
Once your music library is analyzed, itis time to start making playlists. Just select a track or two, click the New Matchlist button, and let beaTunes do the rest. It creates a new playlist in iTunes pre-loaded with songs. If you donit like some of tracks it chose, just remove them from the playlist.
beaTunes color codes songs, so you also have an easy to see visual reference for tracks that are similar. Thatis a nice feature since it lets you view and organize your music before making new playlists. You canit, however, see the color coding in iTunes.
A beaTunes-built playlist.
The initial track analyzing can take hours, but once it finishes, beaTunes tends to be pretty responsive. It ran without any issues on my 1.67GHz PowerBook G4 without a hitch. Unfortunately, it canit analyze music you purchase from the iTunes Store - thatis a limitation imposed by the FairPlay DRM embedded in the purchased songs.
If you enjoy blogging about your music, beaTunes helps with that, too. It supports del.icio.us and blogger.com.
The Bottom Line
If you are interested in creating playlists that you otherwise may not think to build, beaTunes is a great tool. It lets you make mixes tailored for your moods and activities, and takes the guess work out of creating perfect party mixes. The fact that you canit analyze iTunes Store tracks is a bummer, but that one is in Appleis hands.