iMixing it Up

One of the major enhancements introduced with iTunes 4.5 is iMix -- a feature that allows you to create and publish playlists on the iTunes Music Store. Follow along to learn how to create an iMix of your own.

Making the Mix

Before we begin, it's worth mentioning that iMix is, in part, a sales tool for the iTunes Music Store. It was designed not only so that you could share your musical taste with the rest of the world, but also to tempt others to purchase the music you recommend. With that in mind, you should understand that only those songs that are available at The Store will appear in your iMix -- Apple doesn't wish to advertise that which it can't sell. Sure, you can drag as many songs as you like from your ripped Beatles collection into your iMix, but because The Store doesn't offer the Beatles' catalog, none of those tunes will appear in the published playlist.

Now that we've cleared that up, let's begin.

1. Launch iTunes 4.5 or later and create a new playlist.

You don't have to be creative with the playlist's title -- you'll have the opportunity to give your iMix a flashier name when you publish it.

2. Drag tracks that you want to appear in the iMix into the playlist you created.

The tracks can be songs you've ripped from CD, obtained from the Web, or songs for sale at the iTunes Music Store. For these things to be recognized as available from The Store (and, therefore, publishable), you must be sure that they contain at least the proper Album, Artist, and Track information. (If you have an unnamed track, select the track, choose Get Info from the File menu, click the Info tab in the resulting window, and fill in the Name, Artist, and Album fields with the correct information.)

And yes, you read right, you don't have to own the songs that you'd like to appear in your iMix. You can drag tracks from The Store into your playlist. When you do, the tracks will appear in the playlist. These tracks can be published right along with the rest of the tracks in your playlist. When you attempt to play one of these tracks, The Store will stream the track's 30-second preview to your computer. You'll also see the option to buy the song if the song is sold individually.

Note that an iMix can contain a maximum of 250 tracks.

3. Arrange the tracks in an order that appeals to you.

Playlists, much like a band's set list, have a rhythm to them. For example, ganging together six fast tracks and following them with six slow tracks could make for an odd playlist. It might be better to start with a medium tempo track, add another track that's a bit faster, make the next track faster still, and then slow the whole thing down with a slow track in position four.

Publishing the Mix

Now that you've created the perfect playlist, it's time to go public.

1. Click the Arrow icon next to the playlist.

This signals to The Store that you're ready to publish your playlist. When you click this icon, you'll see a dialog box that reads:

Creating an iMix on the iTunes Music Store allows you to share the selected playlist with everyone. This sends information about the tracks in the playlist to the Music Store.

This dialog box appears largely to warn you that you're about to create an iMix.

2. Click Create and sign in.

iTunes will now access The Store. Once your computer has made the connection via its Internet connection, you'll be asked to enter your Apple ID and password (or AOL screen name and password if you've signed up through AOL).

3. Name and describe your iMix.

A window appears that lists the songs from your playlist that are available from The Store. Enter a name for your iMix and a description to accompany it. This is the name and description that will appear when someone views your iMix.

Note that your iMix is likely to be viewed more often if it has a cool name and a colorful description. Calling your iMix "My Favorite Songs" and describing it as "Songs I like" isn't going to attract a lot of people, so be creative.

4. Click Publish.

When you're ready to unleash your iMix on the rest of the world, click the Publish button. In a few moments you'll see a confirmation screen that displays the artwork that will accompany your iMix (made up of a compilation of covers from albums in the playlist) along with a useful Tell a Friend link. Click this link to be taken to the Tell a Friend screen where you can create an email message to announce your playlist.

If you're more of a do-it-yourselfer, you can right-click (on a Windows PC) or Control-click (on a Macintosh), and choose Copy iTunes Music Store URL from the contextual menu that appears. Paste this URL into an email message and when your recipient clicks on it, they'll be taken to your iMix page at The Store.

Revisit Your Mix

You've put your baby on display and you might care to visit it or, eventually, remove it. Doing so isn't difficult.

Apple emails you when it's accepted an iMix. In this email you'll find a link to the mix. To visit your mix, just double-click on this address if it appears as a live link in your email client. If it doesn't appear as a live link, launch iTunes and copy and paste the link into your web browser. You'll be transported to your iMix's page where you can see any ratings other people have assigned (and yes, if you want to shill for your own playlist, you can assign a rating to your mix one time).

Alternatively, if you've kept the original playlist you used to create the iMix, select that playlist in iTunes' Source pane and click the arrow icon next to it. This action also takes you to the iMix associated with that playlist.

Kill Your Mix

If you're feeling the tiniest bit remorseful about your iMix -- the songs are out of date or you created the thing when you were angry with your boyfriend and created a "Jon is a Jerk!" iMix -- you can delete it. Here's how:

1. After signing into The Store, click the name of your account in the Account field.

Clicking your account name is the gateway to mucking with your Store preferences and settings.

2. Enter your ID and password and click View Account.

3. Click Manage iMixes.

In the Apple Account Information screen that appears when you click View Account you'll see a Manage iMixes button. Clicking this button takes you to the Manage iMixes screen where you can delete iMixes that you've created.

4. Click the Remove button next to the name of any iMixes you want to delete and then click Done.

This does exactly what you'd expect -- deletes the chosen iMixes. If you've created a lot of iMixes and can't quite remember what each one contains, click the arrow icon next to an iMix to view its contents.

Mixed Magic

And that's it, you're ready to iMix. If you create something really cool, we'd like to hear about it (and possibly offer it as a featured playlist). Feel free to post your iMix in our MyTunes: Your Playlists forum.

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