The perfect mix with iTunes: from cover to disk

Since version 4.5, iTunes has some really interesting features that makes it a great music software from Apple. The best new thing to the iTunes party is the ability to create good looking CD inserts for your albums.

Using the new printing feature along with the Smart Playlist feature, we’ll see how we can create a perfect music mix within minutes using iTunes. We’ll also review some new features, and how we can use them at their best.

Some great features new to iTunes 4.5

Probably the first change you’ll notice in iTunes 4.5 is the presence of arrow links, much like in the iTunes Music Store. While I thought at first that these links would bring me inside my own music library (e.g. : clicking an artist would show all tracks from this artist), they are meant to easily find music on iTunes Music Store. While this is really great to discover new music based on what you already have in iTunes, you’ll probably be pleased to read that you can use these links inside your music library as well.

Music links that now appear in iTunes 4.5 can either direct you inside your music library or to the iTunes Music Store.

Music links that now appear in iTunes 4.5 can either direct you inside your music library or to the iTunes Music Store.

Party Shuffle makes it really easy to get your favorite tunes playing all night long ! You can rearrange the list on the fly, adding you’re friend’s request as they come in. Tunes added to it will be queued until previously added songs are played or a song can be played right after the current song if you receive special requests.Apple Lossless music encoder will please people who like good quality sound. Said to achieve a sound quality indistinguishable from the original CD, yet your songs will only weight half of their original size. Finally, two new features related to iTunes Music Store. First, Preview in Playlist allows you to keep 30 seconds music previews from song you’d like to get on the iTunes Music Store. iMix allows you to publish your favorite iTunes Music Store’s songs list for your friends and the rest of the world to see.

Creating the perfect mix

Step one : get some music on this disk !

Quickly adding just enough songs you like on a CD is easy with Smart Playlists. You need to set some criterions to select your music like which artist(s), genre(s) or album(s) you want on the disk. You can also ask iTunes to select among your best songs, based either on how often your played them or how many stars you rated them. Criterions can be combined together to create the perfect music list.Make sure you limit the Smart Playlist to about 70 minutes so it can fit on a single audio CD. Selecting the Live updating feature will allow you to modify selected songs until you are satisfied. Once the list is created, you can remove songs you don’t want, and they should be replaced by some other that match your criterions. Once your satisfied with your list, click the Burn disk button.

An example of a simple Smart Playlist I used to create my mix.

An example of a simple Smart Playlist I used to create my mix.

Step two : add a nice cover to it.

The next step to have a good looking music mix CD is to add a cover to it. Using iTunes 4.5, you can create CD covers in various styles, depending on what you want. If you did not retrieve the song’s name when you first imported them, you can still do it from the Advanced menu, by selecting Get CD track names.If your songs in iTunes still doesn’t have album cover artwork associated to them, you’ll need to add it first. I suggest you to use iTunes Catalog to easily retrieve artwork from the Internet for your iTunes songs. This nice tool - that I translated to French - will add the artwork directly in iTunes and allow you to check that the right album cover was retrieved. It can also be used to publish your whole library to a web site, linking songs to their lyrics for example. Keep in mind that adding artwork to all songs in your library can be long, and to quickly create an album cover, you can select only songs from your playlist in iTunes Catalog.Once the songs have their artworks, you are ready to print your cover. I’ve created a preview of the different possibilities, so you can have an idea of what can be done. You can click on images to see them at a larger size.

Text only : elegant white on blue simple insert. If you don't like blue, look at the next option.

Text only : elegant white on blue simple insert. If you don’t like blue, look at the next option.

Text only (black and white) : simple, yet informative. If your album contains more than one artist, their names will be added beside tracks.

Text only (black and white) : simple, yet informative. If your album contains more than one artist, their names will be added beside tracks.

Mosaic : the very best impression for multiple albums compilations. Notice how squares are filled with a color similar to the album when needed.

Mosaic : the very best impression for multiple albums compilations. Notice how squares are filled with a color similar to the album when needed.

White mosaic : more simple, if you want to save some black ink !

White mosaic : more simple, if you want to save some black ink !

Single cover : either the album where most of the songs where taken, or any album you select on the list.

Single cover : either the album where most of the songs where taken, or any album you select on the list.

Single slide (black and white) : the simplest list you can make.

Single slide (black and white) : the simplest list you can make. If you prefer to print you songs in a full paper sized list rather than CD covers, iTunes can do it too.

Album list : list showing all albums and songs that were taken from each of them.

Album list : list showing all albums and songs that were taken from each of them.

Detailed list : all the info that appears in iTunes can be printed on paper.

Detailed list : all the info that appears in iTunes can be printed on paper.

Oh, did I forgot to mention that there is no step three ? Enjoy using iTunes !

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3 Responses to “The perfect mix with iTunes: from cover to disk”

  1. Barry Bryant Says:

    Just burned 5 CD-Rs from a playlist which had all the names artists, artwork everything. But when I finished the multi burn session none of the discs had any song names on them. Any ideas what happend?

    Barry

  2. Pautex JF Says:

    Yes, but have a look at my last shareware : CD Jacquet and you will see that cover from iTunes are more easy to print, make front, back and cd label very attractives. JF

  3. toto Says:

    Itunes rocks

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