Shortcuts for Archiving Apple Music Playlists

Jacob Tender Playlists

I’m sort of a nut about metadata and archiving my digital stuff. I also like lists and enjoy listening to music. It’s all of those things that led me to my ongoing bi-monthly playlist project, where I collect the songs that strike me during a set period of time. These are time-capsules I’ve rather enjoyed making and will hopefully enjoy revisiting years down the road.

I make my lists on Apple Music, which allows me to share them on my profile with friends that follow me. What’s great about this platform, and I’m sure Spotify is the same, is that I can add a title, description and artwork specific to the playlist that is visible to all that come across it. I’m very particular about the sequencing of my playlists and equally as anal-retentive about the consistency of the metadata. These are parts of a set, after all.

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 1.00.13 AM.png

So, I have this set of playlists that are just how I like them and visible to other Apple Music subscribers. Now what? Well, as with most things, I’d like to catalog them in a secondary location. I want a text-based backup, hosted on my blog here. That seemed easy enough when I started the task, but I quickly realized that hand typing each track name and artist was not a chore I wanted to undertake, especially not more than once. Cue automation!

List From Playlist Shortcut

This Shortcut asks me to choose a Playlist from a list, then runs two nested loops that grabs the title and artist name for each track and stores them in two variables. These variables are used in a text area with some light formatting to create a line of text with the pertinent information. The shortcut then combines the output of each outer loop into a single list. This is copied to the clipboard for pasting into my CMS from my iPhone or Mac.

Here’s an example of the output:

"Mr. Moonlight" - The Beatles
"Fell Asleep With a Vision" - The Spirit Of The Beehive
"The Leanover" - Life Without Buildings
"Nowhere2go" - Earl Sweatshirt
"Heaven" - Charly Bliss
"Archie, Marry Me" - Alvvays
"I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)" - The 1975
"Left and Leaving" - The Weakerthans
"Pretty Good" - John Prine
"Revolution Lover" - Left at London
"Hurt" - Johnny Cash
"Ain't No Sunshine" - Bill Withers
"The Gold" - Manchester Orchestra & Phoebe Bridgers
"I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" - The Soggy Bottom Boys
"I Like America & America Likes Me" - The 1975
"Let Me Down Slowly" - Alec Benjamin
"In My Dream" - The Action
"Too Late to Turn Back Now" - Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
"Never My Love" - The Association
"What Is Life" - George Harrison

Great! List done. Now I’d like to archive the artwork as well, but I don’t have all of the images used in my Camera Roll any more. Those that I do have are full images, not cropped to the proper proportions. I could go through the effort of tracking down the images on Unsplashed again and manually cropping them, but that’s even more time intensive than the text was. No problem, I’ll just have shortcuts pull them for me like I did the titles and artist names.

Image From Playlist

Nope! ‘The Get Details of Music’ action can get a lot, but it can only touch the metadata assigned to the music itself, not the playlist. For this task, I had to look to the web and use some RegEx magic.

Note: This Shortcut seems to work on all user-generated playlists, but fails on some Apple-curated ones. Essentials and Deep Cuts can be grabbed, but others will crash the shortcut. I have not investigated why and I make no promises that I will.

Admittedly, this Shortcut could very easily be refined, however I managed to get the result I needed early in testing, so quit before I lost a few hours to HTML stripping.

We start in the Apple Music app, sharing the playlist we want the artwork for. Choosing the Photo From Playlist Shortcut from the menu will send the URL for the playlist into a chain that grabs the source of the page, then looks for the following RegEx pattern.

(http(s?):)([/|.|\w|\s|-])*\.(?:jpg|gif|png)( 3x)

This will find all of the image URLs on the page ending with “ 3x”. This string is appended to the end of URLs pointing to the highest resolution version of a given image served by Apple on the webpage. This includes the playlist artwork and song artworks.

Depending on the length of the playlist, this may return a LOT of results. My CA001 playlist returns 93 results. I only only need the first though, which is the artwork for the Playlist. Here is the URL for the first matched item.

https://is3-ssl.mzstatic.com/image/thumb/SG-S3-US-Std-Image-000001/v4/36/be/d5/36bed521-15ce-d164-f358-ef3d7301fc75/image/939x939cc.jpg 3x

The image (939x939px) is displayed on the screen for output. I AirDropped mine to my desktop to plug in on Squarespace.

Get the Shortcuts Here

My Favorite Things 2018: Everything

everything.png

My lists are all short this year and I have a long holiday break to enjoy, so I’m going to combine this year’s My Favorite Things posts into one. I hope that’s cool.

Music

I gave fewer releases a lot more attention this year. These 18-count, plus the Beatles White Album reissue and the Sirius XM station make up my music listening habits for the year.

LPs

  1. Tamino - Amir

  2. Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour

  3. The 1975 - A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

  4. Dan + Shay - Dan + Shay

  5. Pinegrove - Skylight

  6. Super American - Tequila Sunrise

  7. The Beths - Future Me Hates Me

  8. Coheed and Cambria - The Unheavenly Creatures

  9. Brockhampton - Iridescence

  10. Runaway Brother - New Pocket

  11. Ariana Grande - Sweetener

  12. Panic! at the Disco - Pray For The Wicked

  13. Kids See Ghosts - Kids See Ghosts

  14. Troye Sivan - Bloom

  15. Jagwar Twin - Subject to Flooding

  16. Glorietta - Glorietta

  17. Facing New York - Dogtown

  18. Turnstile - Time & Space

EPs

  1. Bogues - Life, Slowly

  2. Bohnes - 206: Acts I & II

  3. The Weeknd - My Dear Melancholy,

  4. Third Eye Blind - Thanks For Everything

I also started building bi-monthly playlists in July. You can check them out here.

Podcasts

I joined the staff at Breaker in spring of this year. As a result, I was delivered a newsletter with my listening statistics for the year. Unfortunately, I marked every episode of every show I’d listened to up to that point as “listened,” so my results were pretty skewed.

My weekly stats tell me that I listen to ~40-55 episodes a week. That’s roughly 46 hours worth of audio streaming through my brain Monday-Friday, double speed of course, with silences skimmed off as well. Given the nature of this semester’s long and frequent commutes, I actually had to pick up some more shows to fill the time.

These are the shows I started in 2018.

Fiction:

  • The Adventure Zone (Maximum Fun) - Completed the Balance arc and experimental runs.

  • BomBARDed

  • Master Manual

  • Sandra (Gimlet)

Comedy:

  • My Brother, My Brother and Me (Maximum Fun) - Goodness these brothers are funny.

  • Bad Travel

  • Unattended Consequences

True Crime / Investigative:

  • Reveal (The Center for Investigative Reporting / PRX)

  • Uncover (CBC)

  • The Teacher’s Pet (The Australian)

  • Someone Knows Something (CBC)

  • Last Seen (WBUR / The Boston Chronicle)

  • Believed (NPR)

  • Happy Face (iHeartRadio)

  • Bundyville (Oregon Public Broadcasting)

  • Endless Thread (WBUR / Reddit)

History / Politics:

  • Order 9066 (APM Reports)

  • Remade In America with Bassem Youssef (Cafe)

  • The Wave (Podglomerate)

  • The Omnibus (iHeartRadio)

Society / Culture

  • On Being With Krista Tippett

  • Hidden Brain (NPR)

  • Without Fail (Gimlet)

Music:

  • Fader Explains (The Fader)

  • Dissect - Frank Ocean (Spotify)

  • The Undersiders (Engle)

  • Hear&See

  • Broken Record

  • Inside The Album (Atlantic Records)

Film / Books:

  • Friendly Fire (Maximum Fun)

Technology:

  • Build Your SaaS - The official Transitor.fm podcast. This is my host of choice.

I got really into the true crime narrative genre this year, as you can tell. This form of journalism caught fire in 2014, but is really starting to hit its stride. The Teacher’s Pet actually brought on a new trial for a man accused of killing his wife in the 1980’s. I burn through these shows in very short periods.

Despite the above list, I actually paired down my subscribed shows. I nixed all but one or two technology podcasts and muted interview shows that I only like to dip into occasionally. I’d like to make my subscriptions more fluid going forward.

There was one audiobook included in the mix, which took up about 2 weeks-worth of podcast listening time. That book was The Dead Zone by Stephen King which was homework for my guest appearance on the Chat Sematary Podcast.

Movies

Is it just me or did 2018 pale in comparison to 2017 as far as film is concerned? I still have some Oscar contenders to watch, but few of the 46 new films I watched have screamed “Best Picture” to me yet. I’ll gladly accept recommendations. For now, these are my personal favorites.

  1. Black Panther ✮✮✮✮

  2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ✮✮✮✮

  3. Isle of Dogs ✮✮✮✮

  4. A Quiet Place ✮✮✮✮

  5. Love, Simon ✮✮✮✮

  6. Sorry To Bother You ✮✮✮✮

  7. Eighth Grade ✮✮✮✮

  8. Ready Player One ✮✮✮✮

  9. Maniac ✮✮✮✮

  10. BlacKkKlansman ✮✮✮✮

  11. Deadpool ✮✮✮½

  12. Avengers: Infinity War ✮✮✮½

  13. Solo: A Star Wars Story ✮✮✮½

  14. Mid90s ✮✮✮½

  15. Annihilation ✮✮✮½

For more of my film stats for the year, you can check out this page on my Letterboxd profile.

Television

Netflix had a good number of limited series this year, some of which were counted in my Letterboxd stats, but are repeated here.

  • Patriot (Amazon Prime Video) ✮✮✮✮✮ - Damnit, this show is really good!

  • Barry (HBO)

  • Our Cartoon President (Showtime)

  • Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon Prime Video)

  • The Haunting Of Hill House (Netlfix)

  • Maniac (Netlfix)

  • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netlfix)

  • Atypical (S2, Netlfix)

  • The Staircase (Netlfix)

  • Wild Wild Country (Netlfix)

  • Evil Genius (Netlfix)

My favorite episode of TV this year was Atlanta’s Teddy Perkins. I spent some time with the Monty Python boys via Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers. I now understand the love for Parks and Recreation.

Games

I didn’t purchase any new video games this year, but Mae and I also dropped back into Alien: Isolation, which I initially quit about 10 minutes into gameplay because I couldn’t find a silly hatch in the floor to continue. We found it this time and pushed through for another 2 hours.

Mike Comite and have started streaming some old LucasArts games on Twitch, starting with The Dig (1995).

I also played some D&D and board games with friends over Discord using Roll20 and Tabletop Simulator.

New Music: Old Best Friend - "Anna"

Old Best Friend has a new record coming out in February of this new year. The lead single from that record is called “Anna” and it premiered yesterday on Chorus.fm.

Mike put together a nice little discography deal on Bandcamp for those that want to pick up his debut EP and first LP, Living Alone with a preorder of his second, Almost. You can get all 3 for $11. I suggest you do.

My thanks to Deanna Chapman for helping us with the premiere.

Reading List: 'A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships'

Perhaps the only event bigger than Christmas worth celebrating this year is the release of The 1975's latest album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, which dropped on Friday.

I've been enjoying the album a lot. So much so that I'm actually interested in reading about music again—at least in this case. Having no intention to write anything about the record myself, I'm sharing some articles written by others which pair nicely with the release.

Interviews

Dork: The 1975: Modern life is rubbish?

On their first two albums, The 1975 wore their hearts on their sleeves and hoped other people would relate. ‘A Brief Inquiry...’ sees the band just as bare and open, but this time around, they know they’re not the only ones feeling this way.

“As you grow older and grow as an artist, you become more of a global citizen through touring, meeting more people and just learning about the world. It just becomes a more natural thing to do.”

Every magpied piece of inspiration is fully embraced, every bold decision is celebrated, and every song explores something real. It’s a masterpiece with a lot to say. It’s why The 1975 are such an important band.

"You don’t have to like a band to admit that they’re important. We’ve made an impact. We’ve made an impact on young people. I see it. It’s important to me, it’s a massive part of my life, and if I didn’t believe it, I wouldn’t act accordingly. Music and bands, they were important to me so when I see that replicated in a young person, it’s immediately validated."

A hint at the vibe for Notes On A Conditional Form, due next June

“There are a few lyrics. There are ideas, but there’s a bunch of music. It’s deconstructed. It’s quite English. We’re always going back to a time in our life and referencing certain bits of music from there, and I think this is referencing a lot of UK garage and the feeling of driving on the M25 at night.”

Dazed: Sincerity is scary, Matty Healy is brave

"Self-love, and looking after yourself, and celebration, and not taking the piss, letting go, allowing yourself to look like a knob in front of your mates, these are things that are starting get embraced… I think people (are) honestly owning their fears and their insecurities. But, being open about it is even becoming more attractive to people. Because we’re so aware of it now, we’re aware of how much society deals with mental health issues – but also how popular it is as a subject."

A humorous aside on Piers Morgan riling up his base with inauthentic distain.

"My thing with Piers Morgan is like, listen mate, if you’re a beacon of traditional masculinity, why has the public only ever seen you with a face of make-up on? Maybe I’ll tweet him. I really want him to get me on the show, because he would hate this album more than anybody."

On creating Notes so quickly after A Brief Inquiry...

"My only fear is that because I’ve put this umbrella over both albums, they’ll be perceived as intrinsically connected. The only connection is that we live in a culture where we’ll watch the best thing we’ve ever seen on Netflix, and be like, “That’s the best thing I’ve ever seen”, and then just wanna watch something immediately next. The only reason there’s two albums is because my attention span, like everyone else’s, is shortened. It’s definitely going to have a relationship with (the previous album). But that was never my intention; I’m just making records"

Rolling Stone: The 1975: Drugs, Hits, Rebirth

“It wasn’t partying too hard,” he says. “It was the polarity between connecting with 10,000 people and then going to a hotel room by myself. Mass acceptance and genuine loneliness. It was easier to mediate that with drugs.”

“I do not judge anybody who can’t hold it together. But you’ve got to fucking try. The alternative is so bleak.”

Pitchfork: The 1975’s Matty Healy Dissects Every Song on A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

Do you think this current generation of teenagers has it harder than you did?

"Definitely. I have a brother who’s 13 years younger than me. Back when I was in high school, if there was a fight, there’d be the buildup, then the fight, and then the aftermath where people talk shit, but then people would go back to their houses and that was it. But my brother was telling me that now, with Twitter, the fight is the start of it. Once everyone goes home, everyone’s adrenaline is up, so everyone’s like [mimics excitedly typing on a phone]. Then another 15 fights get organized for after school and then that shit kicks off and then you go home, and everyone’s up till like four in the morning, going, “Bro, you’re going to get fucked up!” And then everyone’s super tired and turns up to school all craggy. Nobody can concentrate, everyone’s fighting."

On "Surrounded by Heads and Bodies":

The title of this song is from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. What significance does that book hold for you?

"I was reading that when I was in rehab. There was no one there. It was me and my nurses, who’d come in and check on me, and then Angela, miles away. I was surrounded by no one, and the book was just open on the front page, as most copies of Infinite Jest are."

The quote comes from the literal opening lines of the book.

"That was kind of the joke. Because nobody reads it all the way! Everyone our age has got a battered, quarter-read copy of Infinite Jest."

Billboard: How The 1975's Matty Healy Kicked Heroin and Took the Band to New Heights

Vulture: Interview: Matty Healy of the 1975

NPR: The 1975's Matty Healy Negotiates With The World

The Times: The 1975’s lead singer on new album and beating his heroin addiction [paywalled]

AV Interviews

Radio X digs into the entire record with Matty [1:13:30] - YouTube

Genius Verified song dissections:

  • "I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)" - YouTube
  • "Sincerity Is Scary" - YouTube
  • "Love It If We Made It" - YouTube

Reviews

Andrew Sacher at Brooklyn Vegan:

The brilliance is more than occasional, and while the lengthy ambient stuff on the last album was respectable, The 1975 benefit from Brief Inquiry‘s more fat-trimmed approach. They’ve actually fit more different types of music on this album than either of its predecessors, but it goes down easier than both of them.

Drew Beringer at Chorus.fm:

If 2016’s I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it was a band changing the narrative surrounding them, then A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is The 1975 creating the narrative...

Podcast Recommendation: The Undersiders

A new podcasting publisher has popped up called Engle and their first show is a hit.

The Undersiders is a series about the intersections between the burgeoning hip-hop movement and the sale of drugs at mass. The show is produced in binaural sound and really well crafted. Being that Engle is a french company, the show has been produced in both French and English languages.

From Engle:

It’s the 80’s... Hip-hop is beginning to emerge.

Cocaine is already everywhere and crack is about to make a dramatic appearance into ghetto life. This unprecedented consumption will make some dealers into the new kings of the streets, and also new role models for their community.

The Undersiders will tell you the story of eight of them. True and crude. Tales about millionaire drug dealers who at one point directly impacted on the development of hip-hop.

Dr Dre, Tupac, Lil Wayne and many more… would these pop culture icons have had the same career without these figures? Without being judgmental, without glorification, the Undersiders will guide you down into hip-hop’s turbulent underground and follow its rising up as a worldwide culture.

The first few episodes are already up and I listened through at a steady clip last evening. Episodes are less than 30 minutes and packed with information and well-written story-telling. I highly recommend it to any fans of hip-hop and its origins.