Salon is running an article today about various new internet services such as Media Unbound that attempt to intelligently suggest unfamiliar music selections to users based on what they already like. You’re probably thinking that this is not altogether unlike what Amazon does, but whereas Amazon’s recommendation data is based upon other users’ preferences and purchases as well as record/book company kickbacks, Media Unbound’s data is based on more finely grained relationships between sound, style, genre, etc. plus the crucial input of music critics, or “domain experts,” as we call them in the corporate world. This approach is superior because you of course don’t want or need to hear whatever dreck the rest of the unwashed masses are buying.
Perhaps this sounds sketchy, but it works rather well. Last night I tried Media Unbound’s service. You spend about 15 minutes rating various sound clips and answering questions about genres (it knew what power violence was! I didn’t see twee, though), styles, eras, and specific artists. It managed to figure out that I would enjoy the Locust, Jonathan Richman, DNA, the Sonics, and Pere Ubu, for example. Though I’m already familiar with them, I was pleased nonetheless. I wasn’t even bothered by the assumption that all of this information will surely end up as marketing data. This is about as good as target marketing gets.
My only complaint is that Media Unbound’s demo seems to have no knowledge of jazz whatsoever, but it’s not like you plebes will care anyway.
As I write this, the service is down due to heavy load, but hopefully it will be back up soon. I would be interested to see how well it fares with indiepop kids, and if it will touch your jingly-jangly hearts. Try not to be put off by the offensive hippy graphic on the splash page, though.