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A Cool Toy - Qualified Perceptions
A Cool Toy
So, some number of years ago, I played around with one of those programs that claims "you tell us what music you like, and we'll suggest some other music that you might like." I dutifully input a whole bunch of things, and it told me (drum roll...) that I might like the Beatles.

Well, sure. Who doesn't like the Beatles, at least a little? (Okay, maybe harrock doesn't, as his Pop Music background is pretty minimal). But I didn't need to do work to have something tell me this! Maybe I'd like to try... orange juice, as a beverage! Or bread, as a novel new food!

Anyway. I've been playing around with Pandora: http://www.pandora.com and it's much closer to what I was imagining that long-ago program would be. You put in a song or two, and then it starts playing things it thinks are liking them. Actually playing them, not just saying "Maybe you'd like this thing, if you could hear it." How cool is that?

Current Mood: curious curious
Current Music: Pandora

9 comments or Leave a comment
ironrat From: ironrat Date: December 9th, 2005 03:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Hm. Perhaps I am experiencing technical difficulties, or have otherwise outwitted them. I type in that I like the Red Elvises or the Dresden Dolls, and instead of showing me music that I might like, they show me music that I already know I like, by playing the Red Elvises and Dresden Dolls...
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 9th, 2005 03:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, it seems to always start off really close to what you said ("Like this? This is what you meant, right?"), and then wanders a little more. You can hit the fast-forward to skip to the next choice, as long as you don't do it an inordinate number of times (an infinite number of fast-forwards equals picking the exact song you want, which isn't legally allowed).
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 9th, 2005 03:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Though sometimes the musical style is not exactly the most important thing.

Tom Lehrer, for example, is characterized by "folk influences, mild rhythmic syncopation, a prominent rhythm piano part, acoustic sonority, meandering melodic phrasing, and a distinctive male lead vocal." Well, yes, but "high doses of sarcasm" is (for me) more significant.
jadia From: jadia Date: December 9th, 2005 03:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Have you heard of launchcast? launchcast.yahoo.com

It's basically like what you're describing, except it's coming more from a "customize your own radio station" perspective. So you can just start having it play things, and as you rate more and more songs, it gets better and better ant figuring out what you might like or dislike. Or you can just look up songs and rate them. The free version includes random commercials occasionally but the pay version is commercial free and lets you skip as many songs as you like.
visage From: visage Date: December 9th, 2005 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
...and pandora seems to not recognise the first four "favorite songs" I tried.

("Give Me More" - Apartment 26
"Boys & Girls" - Jack Lukeman
"Chance" - Savatage
"Autograph" - Royal Hunt)

(Hmm, taking a second pass, they do seem to know half of the artists above, just not the songs I mentioned.)

Overall, it looks like pandora and launchcast are essentially the same idea. Pandora uses flash, launchcast uses IE. They have at least slightly different sets of songs/artists in their databases.
visage From: visage Date: December 9th, 2005 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and pandora seems to have a binary "yes/no" decision for you to select on songs, while launchcast uses your choice of 5 or 100-point scale.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 9th, 2005 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Launchcast also seems to have classical and movie soundtrack, which wins them points. But the IE-only thing is kinda a deal-breaker at work.
visage From: visage Date: December 9th, 2005 03:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Launchcast also works from Yahoo Messenger, but for all I know that's really IE in disguise, and probably doesn't actually solve any problems. =)

Two points in pandora's favor that I've noticed so far: they look to have better support for "I want different stations on this account" and they seem to be trying to categorize why people like music, rather than just blindly playing the association game.
twe From: twe Date: December 10th, 2005 02:31 am (UTC) (Link)
That does sound kinda cool...
9 comments or Leave a comment