Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Going Head To Head With Genius On Playlists

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the put-that-man-down dept.

Music 174

brownerthanu writes "Engineers at the University of California, San Diego are developing a system to include an ignored sector of music, dubbed the 'long tail,' in music recommendations. It's well known that radio suffers from a popularity bias, where the most popular songs receive an inordinate amount of exposure. In Apple's music recommender system, iTunes' Genius, this bias is magnified. An underground artist will never be recommended in a playlist due to insufficient data. It's an artifact of the popular collaborative filtering recommender algorithm, which Genius is based on. In order to establish a more holistic model of the music world, Luke Barrington and researchers at the Computer Audition Laboratory have created a machine learning system which classifies songs in an automated, Pandora-like, fashion. Instead of using humans to explicitly categorize individual songs, they capture the wisdom of the crowds via a Facebook game, Herd It, and use the data to train statistical models. The machine can then 'listen to,' describe and recommend any song, popular or not. As more people play the game, the machines get smarter. Their experiments show that automatic recommendations work at least as well as Genius for recommending undiscovered music."

cancel ×

174 comments

Wow. (-1, Offtopic)

Chrisje (471362) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000698)

Hey! I never had first post!

Re:Wow. (2, Interesting)

Chrisje (471362) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000780)

There, now we got that out of the way (and I do feel oddly better about life) I have to say that I'm still skeptical about these algorithms for music recommendation.

A friend of mine and I listen to a lot of the same music. He got me on the soul train in a way, so we talk a lot about Soul, R&B (The old fashioned kind), Funk, Rare Groove, Jazz and Gospel. Now he and I can dig the same song for wildly different reasons. We can sit and discuss the same tune, which we both like, and discover we look at the thing so differently it's as though we're from different planets.

Now I've tried all possible music sites and playlist generators, but at the end of the day I simply never really agree with the correlation they see between song one and song two. I really wonder if the /. audience believes something as complex as music appreciation can be captured in a program....

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30000818)

I'm not a hippy like you, so yes, I for one welcome our song analyzing overlords

So I guess Skynet's HK's (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000860)

will be killing us to a bitchin indie playlist?

Re:So I guess Skynet's HK's (2, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#30002082)

HKs will listen to METAL.

Re:Wow. (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000882)

Now I've tried all possible music sites and playlist generators, but at the end of the day I simply never really agree with the correlation they see between song one and song two.

I know you say you've tried all possible music sites... but on Pandora if you create a new station from an artist or song, they'll give you the criteria they use to populate the playlist.

Set up stations based on enough songs, and it's pretty easy to understand at least part of how their algorithm works. A big problem, of course, is that some of the criteria are somewhat subjective, which is why you may disagree with them. I find this especially true when creating stations based on artists, not songs.

I just wish I could tweak the individual conditions to see where it'd get me... like having all criteria match except genre.

Mathematics != human preference (5, Interesting)

DanielSmedegaardBuus (1563999) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001174)

It's exactly algorithms like the one used by Pandora that make me agree with the viewpoint that it's not possibly to calculate what "other music" I like based upon the "known music" that I like.

Anyone with a preference for Electro Pop will likely have been wondering when the hell Pandora would learn the difference between Miss Kittin and Scooter after mindlessly clicking "Dislike" on eurodance tracks when Pandora fails to see the difference between one type of electronic music with a repetitive beat and another.

The only really worthful algorithm we'll ever manage to produce is one that uses the collective intelligence of all its users.

Stop being arithmetic supergeeks wanting to put everything inside a box, and start figuring out how to get all these weird unpredictable people to input valuable data into your system.

Google figured this out more than a decade ago, so why are we still seeing stupid mathematical and "pattern-based" algorithms every year?

Re:Mathematics != human preference (4, Funny)

Misch (158807) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001276)

If your algorithm don't got Mojo Nixon, then your algorithm can use some fixin'.

Re:Mathematics != human preference (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001292)

It's exactly algorithms like the one used by Pandora that make me agree with the viewpoint that it's not possibly to calculate what "other music" I like based upon the "known music" that I like.

But that's not the point of the algorithm. The point is to generate a playlist of songs that share some characteristics with criteria you have specified via examples (seeds for a station, and up/down votes on songs in the playlist). It's not about your personal likes and dislikes, it;s about songs that are similar.

My personal experience: Don't use downvotes until the station is somewhat mature. Use upvotes only, so the algorithm can find the common ground basis for the station. Then, after 10-20 hours of playtime, use downvotes to start eliminating unwanted characteristics.

One last point: Pandora is good for general tastes. As your wants get very specific within a genre, as you point out, it starts to fail. My general advice for you is to not try to use Pandora to create a pseudo-random playlist of only songs you know you like. After tailoring your station, buy the songs you like. Then you can create a playlist in your preferred audio-file management software, and listen to only the songs you like. Revisit Pandora or elsewhere to expand your collection as needed. I think this is the only way you'll be really satisified.

Re:Mathematics != human preference (4, Insightful)

darthdavid (835069) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001362)

Or stop being so picky about your music, broaden your tastes and learn to enjoy things that don't fit into your specific little boxes...

Re:Mathematics != human preference (2, Informative)

lucubrationowl (1671460) | more than 4 years ago | (#30002036)

Stop being arithmetic supergeeks wanting to put everything inside a box, and start figuring out how to get all these weird unpredictable people to input valuable data into your system.

Google figured this out more than a decade ago, so why are we still seeing stupid mathematical and "pattern-based" algorithms every year?

The neural network is trained on crowd-sourced data. TRANSLATION: These supergeeks actually DID figure out how to get all these weird unpredictable people to input valuable data into their system. The solution they designed is that people will play their Facebook game, herdit.org, and the statistically significant answers to the quiz game are tagged to the song clips. These tagged song clips are then used as a training data set for the neural network. The machine algorithm is a result of the collective intelligence of all the players of herdit.org

Re:Wow. (2, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001398)

I just wish I could tweak the individual conditions to see where it'd get me... like having all criteria match except genre.

Even a line-item veto for the "why did you play this song" would be ideal. Thumbs up or thumbs down on every song seems to make the music selections worse, not better. Obviously which songs I like and which ones I don't doesn't neatly boil down to criteria that pandora can identify, so I think it's unavoidable that it will pick up on what it thinks I like but I don't.

For example, I like hip hop with clever lyrics, but hate rappers who can only talk about themselves. Most hip hop artists though rap about themselves at least a little, even the ones I enjoy. Simply because all rappers rap about themselves at least a little, any song I give a thumbs up, it's always going to think I like that and will start playing songs that are -only- about the rapper. If I make a station around Aesop Rock, who rap about things besides how well they rap, the selections are good. If I hit "I like" for too many songs though, the selections get worse, looking in "why did you play this song" there is always a line about "boastful lyrics." Being able to select "no, not that one" would be a plus, as the other criteria get better.

(Please, try to resist the temptation to post on how you don't like hip hop. I know, I know, rap music is missing a c, that's very clever.)

Re:Wow. (2, Informative)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30002134)

I remember reading somewhere in the pandora algorithm that you should only click "Thumbs Up" for songs you really like, not every song you like. If you like a song, but there are aspects of it you don't like then don't select anything, just let it play.

I know this isn't as nice as being able to select individual features of a song, but what are you going to do?

Re:Wow. (4, Interesting)

sarahbau (692647) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001412)

I've found a lot of songs/bands I had never heard of thanks to Pandora. I started a station based on "Panic Attack" by Dream Theater, and it's interesting to look at "why was this song selected" for new songs. The current song I'm listening to says "we're playing this track because it features a subtle use of paired vocal harmony, varying tempo and time signatures, chromatic harmonic structure and demanding instrumental part writing." I could have said that I like varying tempo and time signatures, and demanding instrumental parts, but it's neat that it can pick up on things like chromatic harmonic structure and paired vocal harmony.

Re:Wow. (1)

cwiegmann24 (1476667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000918)

If there's a reason to the music I like, I would like the computers to tell me. I like all sorts of music, from acoustic folk to pop to alternative rock to christian rock to screamo. I'll even listen to some country now and again. If a music recommender can understand that by my admission to enjoying 38th Parallel and Blindside, that I'd also enjoy something by Jack Johnson, I'd be amazed.

Re:Wow. (2, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001138)

I've had great success with Gnoosic [gnoosic.com]

Re:Wow. (1)

Dorkmunder (950796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001408)

hmmm, I checked this out and it recommended a band that wasn't even close to the three bands I gave it. Plus, I didn't like the band anyway. Not promising

Re:Wow. (1)

tixxit (1107127) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001150)

The recommendation sites are far from perfect, but they're the best thing out there for discovering new music that you'll actually like (and orders of magnitude better then broadcast radio). Almost all of the CDs I've bought over the past year were of bands I first heard on last.fm. At the very least, last.fm has never played me Nickelback, so its gold in my book.

Re:Wow. (2, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001312)

I'm still skeptical about these algorithms for music recommendation.

You should be skeptical, but not dismissive. In its current state, this type of service is more like directed browsing than a true recommendation. But it still yields the an occasional gem, and with continued participation and increased competition it will get better. Skepticism makes it a useful tool, if you can live with having to wade through some misses along with the hits. Blind acceptance will, of course, be mercilessly exploited and the unwashed masses will still end up listening to the likes of [insert music you despise].

Re:Wow. (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001608)

I really wonder if the /. audience believes something as complex as music appreciation can be captured in a program....

It's not like music can be represented mathematically or anything. A computer would never understand that.

It's time to put it to a vote: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30000704)

Stop using the imbecilic term "wisdom of the crowds": aye or nay?

Re:It's time to put it to a vote: (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000874)

It can be used in ironic terms to great effect.

Re:It's time to put it to a vote: (1, Troll)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000876)

Anybody who thinks 'the wisdom of the crowds' could be used for anything useful should be thoroughly modded down.

Re:It's time to put it to a vote: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30000990)

The wisdom of the crowds seem to be proving you wrong.

Re:It's time to put it to a vote: (5, Interesting)

FroBugg (24957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001230)

Setting aside the obvious joke, the "wisdom of crowds" has actually been proven to be useful in certain situations.

If you ask, say, a single person how many jelly beans are in a jar, he may or may not come close. If you ask several hundred people how many are in a given jar and then average their responses, the result tends to be surprisingly accurate.

The problem is that this is limited to situations requiring little to no topic-specific knowledge. Asking a large crowd of random people what the GDP of China is will be a waste of time. It's a technique that requires you to be asking the right questions.

Re:It's time to put it to a vote: (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001298)

Thank you for getting my post.

And I agree with you. Crowds are a useful for reducing inaccuracies, such as with your jelly bean example. But there are circumstances where the majority of the crowd is biased or uninformed in a systematic fashion... and in that case, a larger sample just gets you a more accurate incorrect answer.

I suspect that crowds might be useful for classifying music, but not really that useful for recommending music. You can pick two fans of a very narrow, specific, musical genre, and they may like entirely different songs from that set.

Re:It's time to put it to a vote: (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 4 years ago | (#30002328)

For the jelly beans, do they take the arithmetic average or the geometric average? It would be interesting to see which comes closer.

They should go through my collection... (1)

Drongo14 (77786) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000742)

Best thing for them to do would be to crawl last.fm. Some pretty esotheric musical tastes there.

Re:They should go through my collection... (4, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000972)

I would welcome this type of tech.

I love music, but, alas...I'm getting older, and am stuck in classic rock. Funny...they weren't classic when I started listening to them..haha.

But seriously, even I'm getting a little weary of listening only to the Stones, Zeppelin, etc over and over and over again...

I really love any kind of good guitar driven, bluesy, riff-laden rock. Guitar blues...etc.

I have to guess even in this modern, splintered genre world, there is still some of this type of music being put out by new kids. I've found Wolfmother, and really like that...but, that was a recommendation I got from a friend, but, I don't have the time to find music out there.

When I grew up...it came through the radio. Music wasn't nearly as splintered and specialized as it is today. On my 'rock' stations, I heard Stones, Zeppelin, AC/DC, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Kansas, Beatles...hell even older than that you'd even hear an occasional John Denver or Olivia Newton John song....quite a mix without turning the dial.

Today on the radio, you have to tune stations all over to get each type of music it seems...and I just can't seem to find something with enough mix to keep my interest. And hit radio...same shit all the time, no variation.

People suggest the internet...well, most of my time is at work, and most places i work..won't allow you to stream music from the web, it is blocked. So, that's not my option.

I've recently discovered Pandora on the iPhone...I have started finding things like that I like from that.

I guess, more things like this and the tech mentioned in the article would really be a blessing for me if I could throw that one while at work, but, would have to be through the phone I guess since no streaming on work computer.

Re:They should go through my collection... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001084)

I love music, but, alas...I'm getting older, and am stuck in classic rock. Funny...they weren't classic when I started listening to them..haha.

I've recently discovered Pandora on the iPhone...I have started finding things like that I like from that.

Same experience here (except Pandora on the PC, not iPhone).

Best part -- not only am I continually discovering new music, I'm rediscovering classic rock I'd forgotten all about.

I really love any kind of good guitar driven, bluesy, riff-laden rock. Guitar blues...etc.

Try adding David Grisman to a station you've created based on classic rock. Might not rock out as much as you're used to (almost 100% acoustic, since he's a mandoline player), but the man is a genius. I've gotten into bluegrass (especially "modern" bluegrass like Supergrass from the 80s) because of him... and one of the stations I listen to most on Pandora is Led Zep + David Grisman. Nice variety, and great guitar/mandoline/banjo all around.

Re:They should go through my collection... (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001246)

Might also try things like Jet, Fratellis, etc. They're pretty decent examples of a modern approach to the 70s rock.

Pandora rocks :)

Only downside - it frequently seems to think that *all* versions of a song are the same, but just because the brand new live version of a Metallica song sucks doesn't mean the older live versions and the studio version suck.

Re:They should go through my collection... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001318)

Got any stations you'd like to share?

Mind sharing your Pandora UID so I can check them out? (Mine's the same as here... but my station list is currently full of crap as I've been trying to show my wife the possibilities).

Grisman plays... acoustic vegetables? :) (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 4 years ago | (#30002286)

Try adding David Grisman to a station you've created based on classic rock. Might not rock out as much as you're used to (almost 100% acoustic, since he's a mandoline player), but the man is a genius.

Wow, Grisman would *have* to be a genius to play the mandoline musically, as that's a kitchen gizmo for slicing things [wikipedia.org] . But then I have heard him play the (no "e") mandolin [wikipedia.org] , and yes, the man is a genius, or at the very least extremely much more talented than I am. :) Heck, I think there's even an established style of mando playing named after him -- sure enough, his Wiki article [wikipedia.org] makes mention of "Dawg Music".

Whatever he's playing though, it'll probably sound pretty damn good.

Cheers,

Re:They should go through my collection... (1)

dollargonzo (519030) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001562)

the major problem I see with all of these services is that even if it finds music you might like, it doesn't mean it can create a good playlist based on what sounds good together. I haven't seen anything short of an experienced radio DJ be able to do this well. This is why I like radio paradise (www.radioparadise.com). It's 24 hour commercial free radio with an eclectic taste that's DJ'ed, so it doesn't sound disjointed.

Re:They should go through my collection... (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001670)

They've leveraged a Facebook game as a way to generate massive data sets for AI to learn about humans in a practical way. That is incredibly brilliant all by itself. Imagine if these techniques were applied to other fields. Architecture, sculpture, furniture design... the possibilities are incredible.

My Gripe with Pandora (2, Interesting)

swb (14022) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001582)

Is to get 10 recommendations I have to listen to 10 songs in a row due to their skip limitations.

They can keep their skip limitation, that's fine, I get the licensing problem they have.

But why can't I get a simple list of the next N (10, 20...100?) songs they'd recommend based on my current "station"? It might even improve their recommendation engine for me because I could thumbs up/down (and I suppose, "I'm tired of this one", too) the songs and cut through the cruft faster. Sort of like Netflix "Rate Movies" engine which allows for more inputs to the rating system.

I also am annoyed that you can add a *song*, which is highly specific, or an artist which is somehwhat specific, but not highly so given some artists creative changes over time, but you cannot add by *album*.

For example, IMNSHO REM's Chronic Town, Murmur & Reckoning are brilliant and most everything else after is less (often much less) so. Adding those *albums* defines a general yet atomic set of musical criteria; adding the entire band and all its albums biases it much more towards the later records, even by sheer weight of number of songs.

This is true for dozens of bands whose sound changed substantially over time or whose last N albums were horseshit or whatever.

All in all, I *want* to like it but the "service" doesn't mesh with how I listen to music from a practicality sense (streaming via iPhone blows on my car stereo and is a battery hog elsewhere) and 10 recommendations aren't worth 30 minutes of sitting down.

Re:My Gripe with Pandora (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30002244)

I don't use Pandora (regularly, I've played with it).. but you can skip 6 songs per hour PER STATION, 12 total per day on the free version.

According to their FAQ, if you pay you get rid of the daily skip limit. I thought I've heard others say that if they hit their limit (e.g. the hourly limit per station), they just change to a different station. I thought I remember some guys on the HD & Home Theatre podcast (who go offtopic sometimes) saying you could create multiple stations with the same criteria, so you can get around the (hourly) skip limit by switching to another identical or similar station -- which would choose different music to start with.

Re:They should go through my collection... (4, Informative)

SlashdotOgre (739181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001110)

Actually I've found last.fm's recommendation system works extremely well; so well in fact that I constantly have a tab open to it when I'm browsing music stores like eMusic (eventually I want to write a little app for this purpose using last.fm's API, but I digress). For those unaware, last.fm users submit what they're listening to through automated plugins (and the supported apps list is huge and very platform independent, I personally use both Amarok 1.4 and MPD); one of the things last.fm does with this music is identifies your "neighbors" (people with similar lastes, i.e. 8 of our top 10 artists are identical). I've found that one of the best ways to find new music is by browsing what my neighbors are listening to and checking out any of their top bands that I'm not familiar with. They also list related artists by correlating this information (e.g. the majority of users who have Band A as a favorite artist also like Band B). Another useful feature is being able to check what an artists most played songs are (great for when it's an artist you never heard of). With that said, I'm definitely interested in seeing what recommendations come from this UCSD team (and not just because I'm an alumnae) as I'm always interested in finding new artists, especially smaller and local ones.

Re:They should go through my collection... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001396)

I just gave last.fm a try, and I was unimpressed. It kept picking obscure songs from Lindsay Lohan or Ashley Tisdale. I'd rather keep listening to my local Hot A/C-Urban station.

last.fm on android (2, Interesting)

tknd (979052) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001620)

I don't know how last.fm works but I downloaded the android application on my phone and so far it is treating me well. It is much faster than pandora and allows me to listen either by entering an artist, tag, or user. So in tags if I type in Jpop I get a bunch of japanese pop songs. I can find stuff from other countries as well which is cool.

It almost feels like iPods are overrated now. It would be cool if I just subscribed to a service and used my phone to stream in music based on my preferences or playlist. Then all music available on the internet (world) would be accessible as long as I had a 3G signal.

So...? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30000756)

Does this mean more or less Miley Cyrus?

So, not at all? (5, Informative)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000854)

It's well known that radio suffers from a popularity bias, where the most popular songs receive an inordinate amount of exposure. In Apple's music recommender system, iTunes' Genius, this bias is magnified. An underground artist will never be recommended in a playlist due to insufficient data. ...
Their experiments show that automatic recommendations work at least as well as Genius for recommending undiscovered music

So, not really so much at all...?

Re:So, not at all? (1)

donaggie03 (769758) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001044)

Exactly. The summary poses a problem that this new program is supposed to fix, then says the new program works just as well as the old one. If it isn't better than what I have installed already, what is the point? I suppose if you couple "Their experiments show that automatic recommendations work at least as well as Genius for recommending undiscovered music" with "As more people play the game, the machines get smarter." then this program might be worth something someday. But that day isn't today.

Sponsored herd-it advertisment? (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000892)

The article links to apps.facebook.com/herd-it/?refcode=slashdot

So I'm thinking this is payed advertisement disguised as an article. That's just low.

Re:Sponsored herd-it advertisment? (4, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000960)

Very possibly, but even if it's totally non-commercial there's still valid reasons for wanting to track where your traffic is coming from. It's probably marketing of some kind, but maybe not sold and paid for.

Re:Sponsored herd-it advertisment? (1)

tool462 (677306) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001144)

Yup. This way the folks who created the app can find the most effective place to put their free advertising-disguised-as-news.

Re:Sponsored herd-it advertisment? (1)

wondershit (1231886) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001198)

Isn't that what the 'referer' header field is for?

Re:Sponsored herd-it advertisment? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001282)

I think enough people have referrers turned off that embedding the info in the url probably leads to better info (I often copy just the destination out of urls, not particularly liking schemes that reward postering).

Re:Sponsored herd-it advertisment? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000974)

It is much more likely that the submitter is affiliated with the facebook game (and thought that 'slashdot' was a convenient label to apply to people coming from...slashdot), or that the submitter signed up for the slashdot refcode in order to get whatever points may (or may not) be involved.

Re:Sponsored herd-it advertisment? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001188)

Hmm, isn't this tangentially related to the whole discussion a few years ago about ref=nofollow in blog links on slashdot to prevent SEO by blogwhore submitters?

If submitter registered slashdot, and is getting some kind of benefit from it, that's in poor taste. Boo!

If slashdot registered slashdot, and is getting some kind of benefit from it, that's also in bad taste. But whatever, we expect that from slashdot :)

Bias exists for a reason (2, Interesting)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000948)

When are people going to realize that unpopular music is unpopular for a reason. Sure the music execs try to push their own artists more than others, and they try to target the largest cross section of the population as possible, but why wouldn't they?

Trying to bring 'unpopular' must to the masses because that will suddenly make it popular is stupid. Music becomes popular because someone hears it and likes it, not just because they hear it.

Throwing Timmy's garage band onto every radio station in the world during prime time isn't going to change the fact that Timmy's garage band sucks and very few people want to hear it.

Yes, there are people who don't have the same tastes as the general public, that is a small portion of the public, nothing you do is going to change that. There will always be a bell curve. Stop with this crap of think just because you like some indie band that no one has heard of that everyone else will.

If the general public likes them they will become popular. If they play a local show and people like to hear them, they'll get requested and more people will hear them. Then more places will request them, and rinse, repeat, until they will become popular.

Unknown bands are unknown because they are interesting or 'good' to a small number of people, not because of some silly idea that they got shafted by a playlist generator. The playlist generator is simply following trends that it learns from people. It doesn't actually analyze the music to find the algorithm that makes it 'good music'. It says 'People that listen to this song also like this song, add it to the list', rinse, repeat, playlist generated. It doesn't say 'hey, no one listens to this song, lets throw it in and then everyone will like it!!!

Re:Bias exists for a reason (1)

donaggie03 (769758) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001002)

I dunno about that . . .there's been more than a few times where a new song came on the radio and I didn't like it, but then after hearing that song a few more times over a few days, I start thinking I like it...

Re:Bias exists for a reason (4, Insightful)

hansraj (458504) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001092)

Are you generally this obtuse?

The idea is not to popularize shitty bands. Given perfect AI, this program is supposed to do the following:

1) Listen to all popular music (for various classes of popular).
2) Figure out why that music is popular (for its class).
3) Listen to any *new* track and figure out if it is like those popular tracks (and any popular class).

Now of course we don't have that kind of AI and hence all this research.

The idea is to promote good bands that would have been popular except for the fact that they are not already popular and hence might go unnoticed.

Re:Bias exists for a reason (1)

joh (27088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001492)

1) Listen to all popular music (for various classes of popular).
2) Figure out why that music is popular (for its class).
3) Listen to any *new* track and figure out if it is like those popular tracks (and any popular class).

But what if you like to discover *new* music and not music that is like the other music you like? I mean, before the crackdown on webradio there were gazillions of (private, run by an individual or small group) stations and when I tried a new station and liked the first two or three tracks I heard (did not happen that often) I could rely on the fact that I would like many of the tracks that got played there. Even if I hardly knew any of them and even if they were extremely different. There's more to musical likes and dislikes than statistics and AIs can unearth.

Re:Bias exists for a reason (2, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001512)

3) Listen to any *new* track and figure out if it is like those popular tracks.

The idea is to promote good bands that would have been popular except for the fact that they are not already popular and hence might go unnoticed.

In this scheme, the no-name band that is most successful in cloning the big-band sound will score the highest.

You might as well be hosting the Fat Elvis competition at the state fair grounds.

Re:Bias exists for a reason (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30002242)

I believe the right approach looks more like pandora or last.fm, they associate songs in clusters depending on different parameters. The systems suggest music in the same cluster you have been voting you like.

Re:Bias exists for a reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30001100)

At least a portion of marketability in music must come from the perception that many people like it. There's an awful lot of uninventive fluff on the airwaves and there have been some extraodinarily popular songs that most would agree are very bad. Macarena and Ice Ice Baby come immediately to mind...

Re:Bias exists for a reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30001102)

you're an idiot

Re:Bias exists for a reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30001140)

This is actually not the case. The music industry is shockingly good at picking songs the masses will like -- but their false negative rate is unknown. Stuff they say will sell likely will (especially because of the massive marketing $ spent on it), but stuff they say won't...who knows?

Re:Bias exists for a reason (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001286)

Stuff they say won't becomes stuff like Peaches... Rush... the list goes on :)

Just because some industry scount likes a band and dislikes another doesn't automatically mean one sucks and one rocks. I'd point to the popularity of the Jonas brothers as a good example.

A lot of what the record industry offers is EXCELLENT studio processing. The difference between a great song and a merely good song is sometimes just the production values. Go watch some concerts, really. Some of the top bands sound like complete ass when they are not set up properly (and some just cheat and play pre-recorded versions)

Re:Bias exists for a reason (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001156)

The thing is that most pop superstars aren't actually very talented. People who write just as entertaining or better music generally don't make it because of pure bad luck.

Re:Bias exists for a reason (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30001184)

Um, no. Popular bands are popular cause they pay a lot for coverage advertising and record labels.

*Some are very good, some are crap. My point is that being popular does not necessarily correlate with being good.*

I listen to music, I play music, I'm not one of the "all new music sucks" idiots, I also listen at least something from each genre so it's not that I don't like X genre and while people do.
I know a lot of people who listen to good music, most of my friends spend a lot of time showing each other songs and bands--we don't always like eachothers music, but we admit that it's at least good. A lot of people do this, but there are also a great majority of people who only really have 20 songs on their iPod that they bought because they thought it was cool as they heard it on hot 99.5 or such.

Now, I'm talking about highschool kids so maybe my observations are biased.

Re:Bias exists for a reason (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001194)

If they play a local show and people like to hear them, they'll get requested and more people will hear them.

That's seriously how you think it works? People just get gig after gig and work their way up and eventually [major label] just starts throwing money and contracts at them?

Where you live, who you know, and how much free time and money you have matters a _lot_ more than how good you are. Sure, talent can eventually get you there too, but for most bands it doesn't. Your options are either to have some contacts that can get you in front of someone important quickly, or to have a shitload of money so you can do nothing but tour for a while. Because even a really good band will likely take a couple years to start getting enough money to live off of from their music - if they ever do.

Besides, record labels aren't interested in signing good bands, and they aren't interested in signing lots of bands. They're interested in signing as few bands as possible while pushing out as many of those records as possible. And they'll spend billions of dollars getting airtime and advertising to do that. Popular music is not what people like, popular music is what the record companies pay to have on every radio station, in every movie and TV show, every commercial...everywhere. I can't remember the last time I actually listened to music on the radio - or met anyone else who did. Yet somehow that still defines what is popular.

Re:Bias exists for a reason (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30002284)

You do realize that movies & TV shows have to pay to *use* music, right? I realize that nowadays, with 'linked' TV/music production houses, the opposite is likely happening too. (e.g. the "For more info on the music played on this week's show" at the end.)

Also, they can't legally pay for music to play on radio stations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Payola [wikipedia.org]

Re:Bias exists for a reason (1)

TheGreenNuke (1612943) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001196)

Let's try an example. Kings of Leon is enjoying some pretty good success right now with songs from their most recent album reaching the top 5 of Billbaord, Hot 100, and other charts. But the band formed in 1999. For for the better part of a decade they were only "good" to a small number as you put it. But then how did they suddenly jump out of relative obscurity to the top of mainstream charts?

I'll tell you how. (1)

ickeicke (927264) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001966)

Let's try an example. Kings of Leon is enjoying some pretty good success right now with songs from their most recent album reaching the top 5 of Billbaord, Hot 100, and other charts. But the band formed in 1999. For for the better part of a decade they were only "good" to a small number as you put it. But then how did they suddenly jump out of relative obscurity to the top of mainstream charts?

You seem to assume that Kings of Leon have produced music for 10 years of a constant quality. Perhaps their "Only By The Night" album (2008) and the associated singles just were so good that the quality of the music made that their popularity grew?

I am not saying that this true, but just because they make good music and are popular now does not necessarily mean that they "deserved" to be popular all along.

Re:Bias exists for a reason (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001244)

Throwing Timmy's garage band

Timmay, timmay timmay TIMMAY TIMMAY timmay.

Timamy,

Timmay.

Re:Bias exists for a reason (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30001268)

There's two flaws in your argument. The first is the idea that exposure has no training effect on a listener's likes and dislikes. I don't have any data on this but I'd bet that's untrue. The second flaw is assuming that unpopular bands are unpopular because they are essentially inferior products in the eyes of the market. This might be true in an efficient market but if the market itself is dominated by a few small outlets (Clearchannel Communications for instance) popularity doesn't indicate a better product or user preference so much as it indicates monopoly power over the industry. Microsoft and McDonalds would be similar examples that spring to mind.

Re:Bias exists for a reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30001416)

You're wrong. People will listen to and enjoy any music they are exposed to (the current success of the music industry proves this). People would be just as happy with music from unsigned bands they have never heard of as they are with the music the record labels produce, the only problem is exposing them to the music in the first place.

Re:Bias exists for a reason (2)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001746)

Thank you!!!

While I have no doubt a computer program could figure out that I like certain tempos and time signatures and musical patterns, none of it says whether it is any good.

What I don't understand is the concept that it has to be 'fair'. There are thousands of wonderful singers, songwriters, musicians,and drummers out there. I can listen all day to great music, who cares if some unknown in Gary Indiana is better and is being ignored. Tell him to get off his fat ass and work to get noticed like everyone else has had to. Times are changing, and myspace, facebook. blogs in general, and other Internet features make it simple to get your work out there and link to albums on Amazon if someone wants to buy it. Tell these kids to stop whining because no one knows about it. As the parent said, if it is any good ... they will. When it hits critical mass, it will start being recommended.

If these kids would stop listening to their mother and boyfriend/girlfriend's opinions, maybe reality would set in and they would find out they are just as mediocre as everyone else is.

Kids these days ... expect everything to be handed to them. And GET OFF MY LAWN!!!

Re:Bias exists for a reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30001906)

Popularity does not equate to quality. Very high quality will be popular and very low quality will be unpopular. Anything in between is as much about social interaction as it is about actual quality music.

Study:
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/311/5762/854

Anyone actually use "Genius"? (3, Insightful)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000968)

I tried Genius for awhile, but I recently disabled it for two reasons:

1) The "recommendations" were not very good nor did they maintain a "common theme", by which I mean, I chose a rather edgy electronica/punk song by Crystal Castles... three songs down we get something by The Nationals... which is very mellow rock. If I choose a song that is edgy, electric, and with a faster pace, I want ALL the songs in that 25 song playlist to be at least within a similar genre.

2) It takes up too much time when importing vast libraries to new machines. I recently centralized my 300+ GB music library on a Mac Mini Server, iTunes was unusable due to genius choking on the sheer volume of data it had to deal with.

In the end, it's really nothing more than a way for Apple to try to get you to buy more crap from the Apple store.
They lost my wallet years ago to Amazon MP3 store who had no DRM. I see no reason to go back to iTMS even now that their DRM is gone. Especially seeing what dicks Apple has been with their conduct around ACC, "fair play", and App Store lock-down.

Re:Anyone actually use "Genius"? (2, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001794)

I've made three observations with Genius:

1) It used to be much, much better. Whatever Apple's doing to incorporate new data is having an adverse effect on the quality of the results.

2) It doesn't work particularly well with large libraries. When I upgraded my hard drive, and merged my "archival" collection with the "everyday" music I carry around with me, I found that the quality of the genius results seems to have deteriorated, even though it doesn't necessarily choose any songs from the huge pile of jazz and classical that I added.

3) Genius seems to ignore album tags. If I have two copies of the same song (as happens sometimes, as I like collecting live recordings and radio sessions), Genius seems to pick whichever song is alphabetically first. This can be annoying, as it prevents certain songs from *ever* appearing.

Re:Anyone actually use "Genius"? (2, Informative)

Rib Feast (458942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001872)

The biggest problem is that Apple is probably the closest internet-based distribution system to the record labels of old. Perhaps this is an "appeal to the masses" approach or to get onside with the labels.

The downside of this is that a collaborative filter based on genre and sales will never go deep. I doubt they'd ever use pearson's correlation coefficient seriously enough to offset the "this is the new hit everyone listens to so you should too".

I guess it comes down to musical integrity to the extent of ignoring trends to deliver truly accurate results... or hit 90% of the market with a simple solution that probably makes them more money and makes the record labels easier to deal with.

Glad to see they're thinking different and aren't just playing to the status quo.

for some, 'good' and 'popular' are the same (4, Insightful)

lapsed (1610061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30000982)

More precisely, popular causes good. Norms [wikipedia.org] cause people to want to act the same way. Some people will listen to music because of its artistic appeal and others will listen to a specific type of music to distinguish themselves from the norm in some way. But the crowd will want to listen to what the crowd listens to *because* that's what the crowd is listening to. Nobody wants to take from the long tail exactly because there's nobody paying attention to the long tail.

This is so true. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30000988)

I really enjoy classical guitar music. Apple's genius selection for the type of music I enjoy is so bad I just turned it off.

Re:This is so true. (1)

catchy_handle (705154) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001860)

While pandora is not good for listening to a particular artist when you want to, it works well for something like this. I like classical guitar too but don't know many artists. Created an "Andres Segovia" channel and me and the baby are chillin' first thing in the morning.

Just tried this out (1)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001028)

The first track that played was a System of a Down tune. Which is about as pop as it gets. The ones after didn't get much better. If they really want to use this to push less played songs which have potential, they should actually better get some.

Re:Just tried this out (1)

lucubrationowl (1671460) | more than 4 years ago | (#30002122)

The first track that played was a System of a Down tune. Which is about as pop as it gets. The ones after didn't get much better. If they really want to use this to push less played songs which have potential, they should actually better get some.

There's a way lesser-know bands can upload their songs into their database for free, this leads to lesser-known songs being tagged with adjectives, this leads to a music search engine that you can use to find those lesser-known songs you like.

The Academic meets Capitalism (4, Insightful)

antirelic (1030688) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001046)

Capitalism: Hello there Academic. How are you?

Academic: Hi... what they heck are you? You look so strange to me...

Capitalism: I'm Capitalism. Oh, I'm really not all that strange, but I might be a little complicated to understand.

Academic: Complicated!?! I am the master of complicated, I am an Academic for crying out loud.

Capitalism: Ok then. Let me try to explain myself. I am a system that provides stuff via supply and demand.

Academic: Nonsense! I dont hear music that deserves to be heard on the radio or on popular websites!

Capitalism: Deciding who deserves what really isnt my thing... see... its about supply and demand...

Academic: But who decides whats in demand!?! Certainly it cannot be the uneducated "masses", they... just aren't qualified!

Capitalism: No no... its about what many individuals, smart or otherwise, want based on need or dozens of different other factors.

Academic: Preposterous! How could they possibly know what they want or need if they havent been exposed to it?!? Foolish Capitalism!

Capitalism: Well, there are a lot of musicians out there and only so many different ways to get them heard, and, well, there are people out there who spend their lives learning what people like and dislike, and even they arent always right... so the best at determining who does best succeeds...

Academic: Rubbish! What we really need, is for the qualified, with a broad base of tastes to make an application for people to give them a view of all the music that is out there!

Capitalism: I guess you can try, no one can stop you, but you might not succeed.

Academic: Your so short sighted. I don't need to worry about succeeding, I receive public money to pursue my higher realm of thinking.

Capitalism: Right on... so I guess you will compete and regardless if your product sucks, you dont have to worry about it because your really just spending someone elses money.

Academic: Its progress my dear boy. Progress.

Someone else's money (1)

weston (16146) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001452)

if your product sucks, you dont have to worry about it because your really just spending someone elses money.

Pretty much the story of most equity-funded businesses (particularly venture-funded.

And C-level agents.

Re:Someone else's money (0, Offtopic)

antirelic (1030688) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001774)

LOL. See, difference between taxes and equity venture-funded capitalism, is that in the latter, you can actually get your money back, or even get profit back, and you get to choose to put your money into a venture/equity fund.

Of course, seeing your signature, its obvious that you dislike competition and pray at the alter of big, all powerful government. Perhaps you should move to Europe. They love big unaccountable government.

Re:Someone else's money (1)

kklein (900361) | more than 4 years ago | (#30002156)

They love big unaccountable government.

And have the higher standard of living to prove it.

Re:The Academic meets Capitalism (3, Insightful)

dlwire (1224964) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001496)

Academic: My product is aimed at the people who aren't into the banal garbage that ends up on the radio. While my target audience is smaller I hope to address a hole left by your model.

Re:The Academic meets Capitalism (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001504)

That was remarkably insightful.

Re:The Academic meets Capitalism (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001776)

Interesting theory, but I'd pay for a system that introduces me to songs I haven't heard before that I might like. I don't care if it's popular (or good) if I like it, I like it. For instance, this [google.com] is in my "a" playlist at the moment. Right next to "Waking up in Vegas" which was a top 40 hit not too long ago.

Such a service actually fits within capitalism, if enough people are interested. I have to agree that Genius just doesn't seem to do that for me.

Re:The Academic meets Capitalism (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001848)

You make a compelling argument Mr. Capitalism,
I'd just like to say;

Pat Boone
Grateful Dead (I think their following enjoys the flashbacks, and so the love of their music is more of a trigger -- if you never got stoned to the Grateful Dead, then you probably don't get the attraction to this elevator music).
Jimmy Buffet (yes, I said it. God save us all from the popularity of Margarittaville and listening to another aging drunk doing his white man's overbite to this moldy oldy).

>> And even more, economic go-to people who bring in the bucks:
Dane Cook
Blue Collar Comedy Tour,
Gallagher,
Carrot Top

>> I think I'm going to try out this heuristic algorithm that the Academics dream up. They aren't grading it on correct use of English, after all.

Re:The Academic meets Capitalism (1)

kklein (900361) | more than 4 years ago | (#30002238)

Academics drive Capitalism. High-level research is not done by corporations (anymore--there used to be places like HP that did, but Carly, being an ignorant capitalist, killed that off). Publicly-funded research is what hands ideas to the private sector. Sometimes academic research just breaks off and becomes private (Google).

The point of making products/ideas without competitive accountability is to explore the possibilities that lie beyond what pays out in the short term. The slow death of American academia is ultimately what is going to kill off the economy as well. It just takes time for the consequences to trickle into the private sector.

Nothing worthwhile, nothing, from the last century, was made by the private sector alone. Nothing. I don't care what technological innovation you think of; if we dig back through the history of that thing, we're going to find taxpayer-funded academic research.

I don't want to live in your ideal society, and I don't actually think you would like it, either. The last time we tried it your way, it was affectionately known as the Dark Ages. You may think you'd be a knight or a nobleman, but I think it's a lot more likely that you, me, and everyone we know, would be serfs.

Launchcast was great (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001062)

I have to say that the best AI for this kind of thing was Yahoo's Launchcast service (recently sold to, and dismantled by CBS). Almost every day, I discovered new music that I'd never even heard of, and the vast majority actually suited my tastes. Unfortunately, when CBS bought Launchcast from Yahoo, they took out the only valuable part of the service (the "create your own station" part that had the fantastic AI), and they left just plain old streaming radio stations.

Great idea until I saw "Facebook game" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30001086)

Facebook game? are these lads taking the piss here? I don't want some Facebook hipster with long hair and a scarf and an overpriced Caramelatte or some middle aged goon with a huge mortgage and kids who just uploaded snapshots of their dinner party choosing my songs for me. No, they can fuck off.

Seriously I was hoping for something more 'integrated' rather than relying on Facebook morons (and most FB users areindeed morons) for 'wisdom'. Posting as AC because closet Facebookies already have the -1 points ready for me :)

Engineers at the University of California vs. Me (1)

clinko (232501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001224)

I wrote something earlier this week to do the same thing with the hashtags in the Twitter API and my music DB.

If you're bored, check it out. The recommendations are pretty close (bottom left). Metallica [clinko.com] or Weezer [clinko.com]

I found this one interesting Beatles [clinko.com] because it finds the singers names.

People like what other people like (2, Informative)

ptaff (165113) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001262)

For possibly the great majority of the population, music can be compared to fashion; does not really matter if the art is good per se, what matters is the trend and popularity, on a local scale (what my friends listen to) and global scale (media).

With the rock'n'roll revolution in the fifties, lots of teenagers liked that new music in part because it wasn't their parents' music. Same story can be said of disco, rap and grunge.

Problem with the long-tail approach is that people mostly judge music by non-musical criteria.

Last.fm (4, Interesting)

Shadyman (939863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001290)

Last.fm's "neighbor" system works similarly, except it looks at what each person listens to. Keep in mind that it takes a fair bit of training to find neighbors who are actually close to your likes, but once you've listened to enough music, it's pretty good at finding things I like but have never heard of. I.E. if I like song A B C and D, and you like song A, B and C, you might like song D.

The neighbor system groups people with similar musical tastes, and allows each person to tune to his/her "Neighbor Radio", to listen to songs liked by your neighbors.

(Disclaimer: I have no vested interest in last.fm besides being a paid member. [My Profile] [www.last.fm] )

Mod parent up (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30001482)

The neighbor playlist on last.fm is a really effective tool for finding stuff I didn't know about but like.

Inordination without Disproportion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30001314)

"the most popular songs receive an inordinate amount of exposure"

More to the point, I think the popular songs get played in disproportion to (above & beyond) their popularity. Versus the songs getting inordinate exposure? Anything played on air.

At least as well (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30001642)

An underground artist will never be recommended in a playlist due to insufficient data. It's an artifact of the popular collaborative filtering recommender algorithm, which Genius is based on.

Their experiments show that automatic recommendations work at least as well as Genius for recommending undiscovered music.

At least as well as never recommending? That is astounding.

Herd? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30002014)

So i herd u liek mudkipz.

High Fidelity (2, Funny)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30002016)

10 minutes with someone who works in an independent record store will help you find better music than any algorithm (or any Top 40/Adult Contemporary radio station for that matter). That is, if you can find someone friendly in one of these stores...

Paraphrased from actual conversation in an indie record store:
Record store owner: "Why do people keep coming back here?"
Employee: "Well, it's not friendliness..."
Owner: "WHAT?! I'm the most f***ing friendly guy there is!

Genius doesn't work for me (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30002304)

at least 1 out of 5 times it says "sorry - can't make a list for you" - basically syin I listen to music that is too obscure for them or isn't in iTMS or whatever they use to catalogue stuff.

I disabled Genius and just leave it on Random play. I have 35,654 songs, so I basically listen to the best radio station and rarely hear repeated.

Heck, if I live to be 90, I'll probably only hear each song 7 or 8 more times anyway...

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...