A recent addition to the whole “discovery through mathematics” set is Muiso, who uses an Audioscrobbler like software plugin to track listening habits on a users machine to create a personal playlist that it compares with that of your musical neighbors. (As it doesn’t run on a Mac yet, I have yet to actually test it, but I’ll get to a Windows machine at some point this week.)
We can apply Bob’s critique of Pandora to the other sites as well. Here’s the crux of his argument.
- Pandora is a scam and not about turning you on to new music, it’s about advertising.
- Pandora does not give you useful results..
- Machines can never replace the good ol’human being.
First, Broadcast radio isn’t about the money???? A certain Mr. Spitzer would disagree. Who cares if I have to look at ads if I get quality recommendations? If it worked well, I’d even pay for it (as I have with Last.fm.) There is no doubt in my mind that these types of services are ultimately going to drive traditional music radio to an even more marginal status. In fact, if Infinity, Clearchannel and other media giants had any brains whatsoever, they’d be already offering big money to get into this market.
It's no secret I’m a huge fan of Last.Fm. Their model (and seemingly that of Muiso) isn’t based on a “music genome” like Pandora. Their little web machines look at what other people who are already listening to similar music are listening to, and presents an individual with some new recommendations. I’ve actually made several purchases based on what I’ve heard.
I’ve had a decent discovery experience on Pandora. The problem Bob found with it is that they focus only on sound, and not any sociological reasons why people get turned onto music. There may be some stylistic similarities between The Banner and Kreator, but the social scenes (hardcore vs. metal) where these two bands come from, are pretty different when you look at them from within. I also don’t think Bob gave their internal filters enough of a chance to hone his taste to it’s maximum ability. Finally, the Pandora music database isn’t developed enough yet, and as they add more music there will be more viable options to recommend.
I concede, there are indeed duds in the mix. But far less than you’ll find with traditional radio. As more data is added, and the internal filtration / artificial intelligence is refined- near perfect niche, personal radio will be achieved.
As someone who never found new music from the radio, I welcome these services with open arms, and look forward to seeing how they develop.