But iTunes is also the software many people use to organize their digital music. Of course, this is old news if you’re an iPod owner, but music fans who have yet to succumb to Apple’s seductive marketing ploys can still use iTunes. It’s free, and aside from purchasing songs online, it can also be used to rip tracks from CDs, burn CDs, and play music on computers.

In fact, iTunes is a pretty good music player. Its interface is simple, finding a particular track out of thousands is easy, and playlist construction is a breeze. How could it get any better?

That’s where Soundflavor’s Soundflavor DJ comes in. For those who don’t have the time to construct playlists or organize songs past artist, album and song, Soundflavor DJ makes music manipulation as easy as, well, pointing and clicking.

“In 1997 I sat down with my whole CD collection and ripped the whole thing,” Soundflavor CEO Steve Skrzyniarz told Pollstar. “And I did it because I thought my wife and kids might be really interested in checking out all the music I collected over my life. I had about 5,000 CDs. And after doing it all, I sat them down in front of the computer and said, ‘Here, check out all this great music.’ And they didn’t listen to any of it. They had no idea where to start. They didn’t know any of these bands. They got lost wading through this giant list of songs.”

It was that early experience that inspired Skrzyniarz, from a 1997 viewpoint, to start thinking about the near future when music “wasn’t going to be sold in CD packages” and people would get lost “wading through huge collections of songs.”

That’s what the Soundflavor DJ is all about. Once loaded onto a system, it analyzes an iTunes collection, identifying tracks according to artists, albums and song titles and looking for similarities. Plus, the software has a background scanning feature for MP3 files that creates a fingerprint for each song and then matches the print against a master database on the Net. But it’s after Soundflavor DJ scans a music collection that the real fun begins.

You begin by picking a song to play, which Soundflavor DJ identifies and then matches other songs that are similar to your “starter” song. However, it does more than match tempo or instrumentation. Instead, it takes you on a journey through your music library, matching tunes and building playlists that will impress even the most serious music fan.

But the Soundflavor DJ wasn’t built in a day.

“Through a long process of trial and error we came up with a model of having people listen to music and capture a report of objective information about the music,” Skrzyniarz said. “What instruments are being played? How loud are they in the mix? How do they mix together? What’s the tempo of the music? What’s the subject matter of the lyrics? Do the lyrics happen to be comedic? Are they trying to be ironic? What are the cultural aspects of the music?”

Skrzyniarz eventually came up with a system where individual “music analysts” listen to and then gather data from songs.

“We have a technology that looks at the songs you’re listening to, or the playlist you’re listening to,” Skrzyniarz said, “And tries to figure out the elements that the music you’re listening to have in common. What’s important to you about the music you’re listening to.”

Along with matching music, Soundflavor DJ also allows you to save the titles it selects as playlists. Although it is limited to playing only the music stored in your digital library, it does make recommendations for songs you do not have, and gives you a link to Amazon for buying the CD, or iTunes for purchasing the individual track.

Plus, Soundflavor DJ allows you to adjust its music-matching capabilities. By setting the “flavorizing” slider, you can determine how many matches, called “cherry picks,” it serves up during your listening sessions.

Right now, Soundflavor DJ only works with iTunes on Windows but there is a Mac version in the works and plans to make software compatible with other music software players.

But using Soundflavor DJ on an iTunes library is one thing. Embedding the software into an actual iPod would definitely be a plus, for both Soundflavor and Apple. But as Skrzyniarz told us, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“It’s tough because the iPod is a closed system,” said Skrzyniarz. “You just can’t install your own software on an iPod. We’d have to have a licensing deal with Apple. But there are some ways we could actually pull that off. I think we’re going to be increasingly interested in getting into the embedded markets. All sorts of portables are interesting. Cell phones are interesting. We’ve been approached about smart stereo systems as well… Any piece of hardware that plays music and has a limited interface. Cell phone, for instance, is a natural candidate for this kind of software.”

Along with aiding in music flow and playlist construction, Skrzyniarz stressed that Soundflavor DJ can also help emerging independent artists.

“My background is not only in the technology side, but also helping out independent artists,” said Skrzyniarz. “And I’m really hoping that Soundflavor DJ becomes a great way for any artist out there to get their music discovered. There’s never really been a way for an artist to get their music distributed in front of the masses. You could put up a Web site on MySpace and join the three million other bands trying to get the attention of people. We see our software as being a great way for an artist to find an audience specifically looking for and listening to music like [the artist’s] music.”

To help independent artists, Soundflavor is accepting submissions and plans to launch a Web site for such a purpose sometime next month.

Soundflavor DJ is a free download at www.soundflavor.com and only takes moments to set up. After that, pick a song, set the “flavorizer” and let the software do the rest. After all, why spend your time arranging music when you could spend that time listening to it?

“We think the Soundflavor DJ is kind of a starting point for helping people kind of define their tastes,” Skrzyniarz said. “We found in surveying consumers that the number one reason people make playlists for each other, or mix tapes or CDs, is because they want to share their tastes with somebody else. People really want to let people know they’re cool.”