Back in the days when we all rocked iPods, its singular use as a music player allowed for users to focus on getting the most from their portable music player. Now that the iPhone has effectively replaced the iPod, managing music can often take a backseat to the infinite functionality of our phones. Music still has tremendous meaning, but it’s easy to find yourself content with loading up music without any filters or extensive thought. That can have several unintended consequences. It can chew up valuable storage space and make it infinitely more difficult to get the absolute best listening experience from your music collection. We’ve compiled five super-smart playlist tips that will rock your iPhone, like a hurricane!

Playlists on iPhone rock

1. Smart Playlists

If you look at most iTunes collections, you’ll find that most folks use standard playlists. And by nature, it helps categorize a group of songs. For example, you might create a playlist titled “Spring Break 2015” that would create a list of party songs. I don’t want to diminish the usefulness of standard playlists, but you can take them one step further with Smart Playlists. A smart playlist is a playlist that can be set to update continuously based upon a preset group of conditions set by the you, the user.

1. Open up iTunes. Click on the music note icon. At the top, you have an option to select ‘Playlists’.
2. At the left, you’ll see a list of playlists, ones that you might have previously created along with smart playlists that are setup by default in iTunes.
3. Click on the plus icon at the bottom left and select ‘New Smart Playlist’.
4. Set criteria for your smart playlist. For example, you can select ‘Rating’ and ‘is greater than’ and 4 stars.
5. Select ‘OK’ and your list is complete.

Smart Playlist ratings

The beauty of smart playlists is that it automatically updates. As you rate songs above 3 stars, those songs will join your playlist. Whenever you sync your iPhone, those will be added. For more on the different criteria and options, we’ve put together a guide on how to make the most of smart playlists.

2. Export Playlists To Spotify, Beats or Rdio

There’s been a shift in how people listen to music. Less and less are purchasing their music, instead opting for streaming music services. For a small monthly subscription fee, services like Spotify, Beats and Rdio offer you access to virtually any song. Using a streaming music service (our favorites are here), can help reduce the amount of storage occupied by your music library. Unlimited access, music discovery, offline access and dedicated apps are all great reasons to embrace streaming, while leaving your old music purchasing habits behind. Jumping to streaming doesn’t mean you have to leave your iTunes playlists in the dust. You can export your playlists to Spotify, Beats or Rdio using these free software solutions.

iTunes import Spotify, Beats, Rdio

3. Only The Best

There’s a reason why “Best of” albums do so well. It’s an easy way to listen to what most fans of a band or artist deem as the best songs. We buy these albums, but often do little to create our own “Best of” lists. Here’s what I do. Start with some of your favorite artists and go on a ratings spree. You can listen at your desktop, during your commute, at the gym or anywhere you have time to listen to your music. For example, I’m a big fan of Thirty Seconds To Mars, but I don’t like every song. Starting with their first album, I listened to each song and would rate them based on my likes and dislikes. To rate a song, just tap on the artwork. The artist name, song title will be replaced temporarily by the ratings area. Tap to rate between one and five stars. If a song was up to snuff, it received a rating of 3 or more stars. Only you know what separates the best from the rest. It’s like taking a machete to a huge swath of music that has little reason to be carried on your person. Using the guidelines, create a Smart Playlist for your new list. I like to title mine, Artist Name: Definitive Collection. As you progress through your favorite bands, you’ll be creating lists that will last a lifetime. That’s provided that at age 65, I’ll still be rocking out to The Used and others.

Rating music

4. Road Warrior

For many of us, our busy lives take us on the road. Be it in our car, taking the train, plane or hoofing it. While I certainly enjoy sitting, enjoying some coffee and listen to tunes, it’s typically not where I find myself listening to my music library. Being a road warrior shouldn’t mean that you’re restricted to existing playlists. Songs that you’ve purchased or uploaded from your CDs contain valuable tagging information. One such tag is the genre of music. When in your Music app, tap on the ‘More’ option and select Genres. You’ll find instant playlists, sorted by genre, all using your music.

Playlist by genre

5. It Takes A Genius

If all of this sounds like too much work, not all is lost. Open the Music app, tap on Playlists and select ‘Genius Playlist’. For the second step, you’ll need to ‘choose a song to create a Genius playlist.’ In an instant, it will be populated with songs that the Music app believes is a good match for your tastes. The number of songs in your newly creating Genius playlist will differ, based on availability. In some cases, there won’t be enough songs to create a playlist.

Genius playlists

Playlists on iPhone are a great way to reduce storage on your iPhone, while drastically improving your listening experience. How are you using playlists?