What counts as a skip?

iTunesBryan has posted an elaborate examination of the “Play Count” metric used by iTunes. I, too, use the “Play Count” metric as a component of many of my Smart Playlists, so I was interested in his research. I agree with one of the comments on his post, though, and think that iTunes really simply considers a song as “played” and increments the “Play Count” about ten seconds prior to the end of the song. (It would be interesting to know if the “Cross Fade” option affects this. Maybe Bryan can investigate…)

In most of my smart playlists, the “Last Skipped” metric is more important than the “Play Count”. I have a “base” smart playlist which I include in almost all my other smart playlists. It contains all the tracks which I do not want to include. If a track is a music video, or holiday music, or from an audiobook or podcast, for example, I don’t want it to play while I’m jogging along Olympic Boulevard or doing the laundry. Consider this my Exclusion list.

The parameters of this smart playlist are:

  • Playlist is “Top 25”
  • Playlist is not “Music”
  • Playlist is “Slow Stuff”
  • Genre is “Holiday”
  • Genre is “Speech”
  • Genre is “Soundtrack”
  • Rating is one star
  • Rating is two stars
  • Last Skipped is in the last one month

That means that if I skip a song there is a very good chance that it’s been banished to my little purgatory and I won’t hear it again for a month. (I also have a smart playlist which displays all the songs which I’ve skipped more than ten times. If you’re in that list, dear track, you’re probably headed for the Recycle Bin.)

The problem for me is that I have yet to determine the iTunes logic behind the “Last Skipped” metric. If a song is playing and I switch to another one, it doesn’t trigger as a skip. If I’m listening to a song and hit Back to hear the previous song again, it doesn’t trigger that as a skip. A skip is only recorded — logically — when I hit Next while the song is playing. But there is some unknown factor at work here that determines whether a skip is logged.

If I hit Next within the first five or ten seconds of a track, it does not log. Bryan’s post makes me wonder if there is some relationship between the length of the track and the point at which Next is clicked which triggers the system to consider the song as skipped.

2024-01-16: Dead links in this post have been removed and/or updated.

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