iTunes Tip: Add Custom Genres to iTunes

When you first set up your iTunes Library, it is configured to use a number of genres. These include Rock, Jazz, Classical, Easy Listening and Hip-Hop/Rap. As you add content to your library, new genres will be added. You’ll see that apps include genres – or, as they are called in the iTunes Store – Categories. The same is the case for books, movies and TV shows.

When you tag your own content – music you’ve ripped from CDs, for example – you can choose a genre from the Genre field in the Info window shown below. (To view this window, select a track and press Command-I, or Control-I on Windows.)

When you rip CDs, or import music obtained in digital form, genres may be included in the tags of the files. You can change the genre by selecting a different one from the Genre field, or you can simply add your own, custom genre by typing it into the Genre field. This is the case for any kind of content in your iTunes library. For example, if you download books in EPUB or PDF format, you may want to add genres to them; if you download movies or TV shows from the iTunes Store, you may want to change their genres.

As you can see in the screen shot above, the genre for this song is “Dead.” The artist is Grateful Dead, and I find it easier to organize all of their music in my library (there’s a lot of it) with a specific genre. You can do the same for any type of genre you want.

For example, if you’re into classical music, you might want the following genres: Chamber Music, Opera, String Quartet or Symphony. If you’re a jazz fan, you might want: Piano Trio, Quartet or Saxophone. Some people like using genres with hyphens or colons: for example, you could use Classical – Piano, or Jazz: Saxophone. Use whatever genres you want, and it will be easier to sort your iTunes library, and to make smart playlists that look for music of a specific genre.

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3 replies
  1. matt says:

    I’ve broken my music up into lots of Genres, and I’ve found it helpful to cluster the sub-genres underneath the more general categories. For example, I have
    Jazz – Piano
    Jazz – Hard Bop
    Classic Rock – British Invasion
    Classic Rock – Singer/Songwriter
    Indie – Singer/Songwriter

    This still keeps all of my “Classic Rock” in one group and by keeping some of the sub-genres similar (Like the Singer/Songwriter) it makes it easy to make smart playlists that either “genre contains Classic Rock” or “genre contains Singer/Songwriter” that have different types of songs (one that has all of the Classic Rock sub-genres, or one that has all the Singer/Songwriter songs regardless of year, respectively)

  2. Mark says:

    Unfortunately, even with customization the genre field isn’t as useful as it could be. ITunes doesn’t have a concept of genre hierarchy, nor can you filter on the field resulting in a very one dimensional tag. So for example you can see all of your classical music if you’ve created tags like ‘classical – chamber’; ‘classical – choral’; ‘classical – piano’. Nor could you find all your piano music if you used genres like ‘piano solo’; ‘piano concerto’; piano trios’;… there’s just no effective way of using genre, especially if you use the iOS based app to remotely control your library.
    This could be so much better

  3. Sam B says:

    ID3 tagging could be a lot better than it is. I, too, wish for some form of genre hierarchy. Or maybe multiple genres in a tag-like system. I’d also love if there was a custom field for Key. For DJs and classical music afficianados allike, the key a track is recorded in is critical information.


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