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Sunday, February 05, 2006
Comparison of music recommendation services  
Slashdot reports has an interesting comparison of two music recommendation services, lastfm and Pandora. I've used both these services, and both the original article (by Steve Krause), and the Slashdot discussion are worth reading.

Personally, I prefer lastfm (my profile). Pandora is more of a private experience. You enter the name of an artist or song, and are provided with a streaming music station that plays songs similar to that artist or song. The similarity is determined by human analysis of the musical qualities of each track, so it's naturally very labour-intensive. Lastfm simply records all the songs you have played in your own media player (e.g. iTunes), and then creates radio stations based around your personal taste. You can also listen to the radio stations of other users. Some of these will be suggested to you, based on your own taste, but you can also browse all stations. Lastfm has profile pages, message boards, and allows you to join groups and add users as friends. So it's much more social, and the radio stations are constructed based on peoples' actual listening patterns, not analysis of the songs' qualities. It's this social quality that attracts me to the site, and the fact that I have a permanent, public profile there.

Others in the biblioblogosphere have been discussing Pandora - Walt Crawford, Joy at Wanderings of a Student Librarian. Both are positive about its ability to suggest interesting songs that they wouldn't have thought of themselves.

BetaNews has a review which also includes (in the comments) a way to turn the Pandora stream into MP3s. (Which, obviously, you shouldn't do because it would be illegal). [via ResourceShelf]. SearchEngineWatch reviews Gracenote, which is "only" a database at the moment, but will apparently be offering a recommendations service soon. Techdirt suggests that music albums may become an outdated concept as more music is sold by download. This makes sense to me - musical formats have traditionally followed technology, e.g. album-oriented rock was made possible by the development of the LP record - before that the dominant pop music form was the single; albums became longer following the development of the CD. Selling music by download enables artists to sell "chunks" of music of variable length, containing any number of songs. There's no particular reason why they should stick to a 10-12 track, 40 minute album.


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