Our 12 days of perfect Christmas planning continues with the ultimate guide to getting the right selection of tunes for your big day. From smart iTunes playlists to YouTube compilations, we've got you covered.
It's not difficult to come up with Christmas music to play in the background -- a quick trip to any discount store will net you plenty of compilations and it's unlikely that you'll pay more than $10. On the other hand, too many cheesy, cheaply-produced seasonal melodies can quickly get on your nerves, as any trip to a shopping centre at this time of year will attest. Below, we've gathered together some of our favourite tips for organising your existing music and your Christmas favourites for easy playback. (For gift ideas with a musical tinge, check out our earlier gift guide.)
Assemble a playlist from ripped YouTube music
We recently ran through the process of ripping your own Christmas music playlist from YouTube videos. This won't be the highest-quality audio, and you should always purchase music by artists you support, but it's a fast way to assemble a quick party playlist. If you actually want video as well as audio, use YouTube's own music discovery feature to assemble a listing.
Create your own smart playlist for Christmas
You can easily manually build a list of Christmas tracks in iTunes (my personal selection includes the Pet Shop Boys, Kate Bush and a surprising amount of South Park). However, you can also use the smart playlist option in iTunes to automatically identify Christmas music. http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2009/07/building-smart-playlists-in-itunes/ http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2008/02/top_10_itunes_smart_playlists-2/
Set up a separate Christmas music library
If you have an extensive collection of Christmas music already stored in iTunes (or whatever your favourite music manager is), chances are you don't necessarily want to have your Christmas tunes pop up in the middle of your regular music. Our guide to managing multiple music libraries in any media player walks you through how you can keep your Christmas and other music in happy cohabitation.
Use Creative Commons resources for music
A good percentage of the best-known Christmas compositions are well and truly out of copyright, which means there are plenty of high-quality recordings available for free through Creative Commons sources. There are also community-minded artists happy to share their work via a Creative Commons licence. Hit Jamendo for starters.
Lifehacker's weekly Streaming column looks at how technology is keeping us entertained.