Smart Playlist Plugin#

smartplaylist is a plugin to generate smart playlists in m3u format based on beets queries every time your library changes. This plugin is specifically created to work well with MPD’s playlist functionality.

To use it, enable the smartplaylist plugin in your configuration (see Using Plugins). Then configure your smart playlists like the following example:

    relative_to: ~/Music
    playlist_dir: ~/.mpd/playlists
    forward_slash: no
        - name: all.m3u
          query: ''

        - name: beatles.m3u
          query: 'artist:Beatles'

You can generate as many playlists as you want by adding them to the playlists section, using beets query syntax (see Queries) for query and the file name to be generated for name. The query will be split using shell-like syntax, so if you need to use spaces in the query, be sure to quote them (e.g., artist:"The Beatles"). If you have existing files with the same names, you should back them up—they will be overwritten when the plugin runs.

For more advanced usage, you can use template syntax (see Path Formats) in the name field. For example:

- name: 'ReleasedIn$year.m3u'
  query: 'year::201(0|1)'

This will query all the songs in 2010 and 2011 and generate the two playlist files ReleasedIn2010.m3u and ReleasedIn2011.m3u using those songs.

You can also gather the results of several queries by putting them in a list. (Items that match both queries are not included twice.) For example:

- name: 'BeatlesUniverse.m3u'
  query: ['artist:beatles', 'genre:"beatles cover"']

Note that since beets query syntax is in effect, you can also use sorting directives:

- name: 'Chronological Beatles'
  query: 'artist:Beatles year+'
- name: 'Mixed Rock'
  query: ['artist:Beatles year+', 'artist:"Led Zeppelin" bitrate+']

The former case behaves as expected, however please note that in the latter the sorts will be merged: year+ bitrate+ will apply to both the Beatles and Led Zeppelin. If that bothers you, please get in touch.

For querying albums instead of items (mainly useful with extensible fields), use the album_query field. query and album_query can be used at the same time. The following example gathers single items but also items belonging to albums that have a for_travel extensible field set to 1:

- name: 'MyTravelPlaylist.m3u'
  album_query: 'for_travel:1'
  query: 'for_travel:1'

By default, each playlist is automatically regenerated at the end of the session if an item or album it matches changed in the library database. To force regeneration, you can invoke it manually from the command line:

$ beet splupdate

This will regenerate all smart playlists. You can also specify which ones you want to regenerate:

$ beet splupdate BeatlesUniverse.m3u MyTravelPlaylist

You can also use this plugin together with the MPDUpdate Plugin, in order to automatically notify MPD of the playlist change, by adding mpdupdate to the plugins line in your config file after the smartplaylist plugin.

While changing existing playlists in the beets configuration it can help to use the --pretend option to find out if the edits work as expected. The results of the queries will be printed out instead of being written to the playlist file.

$ beet splupdate –pretend BeatlesUniverse.m3u

The pretend_paths configuration option sets whether the items should be displayed as per the user’s format_item setting or what the file paths as they would be written to the m3u file look like.

In case you want to export additional fields from the beets database into the generated playlists, you can do so by specifying them within the fields configuration option and setting the output option to extm3u. For instance the following configuration exports the id and genre fields:


playlist_dir: /data/playlists relative_to: /data/playlists output: extm3u fields:

  • id

  • genre


  • name: all.m3u query: ‘’

A resulting all.m3u file could look as follows:

#EXTM3U #EXTINF:805 id=”1931” genre=”Jazz”,Miles Davis - Autumn Leaves ../music/Albums/Miles Davis/Autumn Leaves/02 Autumn Leaves.mp3

To give a usage example, the webm3u and Beetstream plugins read the exported id field, allowing you to serve your local m3u playlists via HTTP.


To configure the plugin, make a smartplaylist: section in your configuration file. In addition to the playlists described above, the other configuration options are:

  • auto: Regenerate the playlist after every database change. Default: yes.

  • playlist_dir: Where to put the generated playlist files. Default: The current working directory (i.e., '.').

  • relative_to: Generate paths in the playlist files relative to a base directory. If you intend to use this plugin to generate playlists for MPD, point this to your MPD music directory. Default: Use absolute paths.

  • forward_slash: Forces forward slashes in the generated playlist files. If you intend to use this plugin to generate playlists for MPD on Windows, set this to yes. Default: Use system separator.

  • prefix: Prepend this string to every path in the playlist file. For example, you could use the URL for a server where the music is stored. Default: empty string.

  • urlencode: URL-encode all paths. Default: no.

  • pretend_paths: When running with --pretend, show the actual file paths that will be written to the m3u file. Default: false.

  • uri_format: Template with an $id placeholder used generate a playlist item URI, e.g. http://beets:8337/item/$id/file. When this option is specified, the local path-related options prefix, relative_to, forward_slash and urlencode are ignored.

  • output: Specify the playlist format: m3u|extm3u. Default m3u.

  • fields: Specify the names of the additional item fields to export into the playlist. This allows using e.g. the id field within other tools such as the webm3u and Beetstream plugins. To use this option, you must set the output option to extm3u.

For many configuration options, there is a corresponding CLI option, e.g. --playlist-dir, --relative-to, --prefix, --forward-slash, --urlencode, --uri-format, --output, --pretend-paths. CLI options take precedence over those specified within the configuration file.