Automators 48: Automating Music

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Great episode! But I’m confused about something. I have a number of Shortcuts that find and play tracks in my Apple Music library that are not locally downloaded. It sounded like David and Rosemary were saying that’s not possible. Was I misunderstanding what they were talking about? Thanks!

I have been struggling with this. They work about 50% of the time for me. Which is not a great result rate. Part of this is because I don’t have the streaming of music on cellular enabled, and part of it is that I’m often on planes. But I can be sitting at home, next to the router, run a shortcut, and it often doesn’t work. Or the shortcut works, but nothing plays. It’s maddening!

I can’t comment on the running of shortcuts against smart playlists because I don’t do that but my smart playlists update in my iPhone to show all the songs not just the downloaded ones. I added a new album to my library yesterday and it is in my smart playlist of music I have not played on my phone today.

I stream mostly but if I want to see which songs are downloaded to my device I can choose the Downloaded Music option in the Library menu and select that smart list and see only the downloaded songs within it.

I’m only using WiFi, so that may be a factor. Another possible factor is that I still have iTunes Match as well as Apple Music in the cloud. I wonder if that makes a difference.

I made a shortcut that uses Apple Music. It randomly selects an album from a list I have on AirTable of The Rolling Stones Top 500 Albums. I use it on my HomePod. Works almost every time. But just before the album starts playing Siri always says “sorry there was a problem with the app.” …and then the music starts! :man_shrugging:t2:

Great episode! I came here to post what all of you have already said.

For what it’s worth, Mac smart playlists used to be able to apply logic that iOS wasn’t capable of. Those smart playlists wouldn’t sync and they told you so when you added the logic to a playlist. Some semblance of those issues may still be hanging around without warning. I have no desire to spend the time testing that hyposis. :slight_smile:

A question for the experts though… This episode gave me the idea to use Siri Shortcut to pull the music that is currently in all of my Apple Music generated mixes and shuffle those. A “Shuffle mix of mixes” shortcut. However, only the New Music and Favorites mixes seem to show up as choices in the “Get Music” action. I may have not played the other mixes enough for them to show up in Siri Shortcuts yet. Can someone verify that the Chill mix for example will actually show up in the Get Music action?

I’d love to hear people’s use of the star rating system!
For me,
5 stars are songs I will not skip no matter who’s listening to music with me. They’re absolute favorites.
4 stars are good songs I want to hear again. Most music starts here.
3 stars are songs I want to keep in some kind of rotation. They’re usually nostalgic. There are a lot of one hit wonders in here.
2 stars are songs I never want to come up randomly but I don’t want to delete. Lot’s of my daughter’s Disney and My Little Pony songs.
1 stars are songs that something is wrong with e.g. album art is not from the original album.

This allows me use the ratings data to fine tune smart playlists.

I’ve always thought of using the play data and skip data to populate the star system, but I’ve never figured it out.

I’ve made an assumption that Love and Like will affect my Apple Suggestions so I use those only for marking songs I want to affect my suggestions. For example, Margaritaville is rated a 4, but I really don’t want Apple suggesting more Jimmy Buffett. This may not function the way I think it does at all.


Great episode! I may have missed it but one tool you folks didn’t discuss was Toolbox Pro. The app has several actions specifically for Apple Music, such as the ability to “Love” a song. Since Apple removed the ability to love a song directly from the lock screen, I’ve been playing with the “Love Song” action in Toolbox Pro to see if I can replicate loving a song from my iPhone widget. It’s been hit or miss for me, most of the time it doesn’t do anything to the song and sometimes it does. I wonder if anyone here has used Toolbox Pro for Apple Music?

YES! That is exactly the same rating system that I use. I have a ton of jazz in my library because I used to be a DJ for swing dancing and various other 20s-50s vintage events, so there are a number of songs that I don’t want to delete but very rarely want to hear. My smart playlists tend to be “[Genre/Descriptor] Favorites” (5 stars of a certain genre or combination of genre), “Good [Genre/Descriptor]” (4 or 5 stars), “Unrated [Genre/Descriptor]”. I also have smart playlists that do things like “Good [G/D] Not Played in 3 months” to help surface old faves I haven’t heard in a while.

I haven’t updated this scheme since I started subscribing to Apple Music. Do you happen to know if you can apply 5-star ratings to songs in AM and have it work with the smart playlists?

Sorry for the horrible lag.

To my knowledge ratings go across all music… Or to be more precise, you have to add Apple Music to your library before it will let you rate it.

Yeah, after I saw this thread, I started playing with it myself and found out that I can actually use smart playlists with Apple Music stuff. Total game changer! I just wish rating music was easier to do in the Music app on the iPhone.