Posts Tagged discovery

Know your genre

Not sure what the difference is between Black Metal or Death Metal? Looking for the quintessential nerdcore track? Confused about how 3rd wave ska relates to ska?  Check out  Know your Genre for all the answers.

Know your Genre is a website built by Sam Richardson that helps you better understand the world of music genres.  Type in the name of a genre, and Know Your Genre will bring you to a page devoted to the genre where you  listen to the best examples, see the most representative bands and discuss the genre with other fans.    There’s an interesting crowd sourcing component to Know Your Genre.  You can submit your favorite example of a song for a particular genre.  For example, I submitted Tales of Topographic Oceans by Yes to the Progressive Rock page.  It is now sitting at the end of a long list of examples (with my single vote), but if people decide that ToTO really is the pinnacle of the progrock movement, it will be voted up, reddit style to the top of the prog rock page. (Clearly, this needs to happen, currently there’s a song by Offspring on the top of the progrock heap.)

Know your genre is a well designed site, with lots of nice touches. Sam says he’s going to continue to build on the site, his ultimate plan being to build a timeline of music from pre history through to modern day music with examples of the evolution.   Imagine a version of Ishkur’s guide but for all music, or an updated version of Reebee Garofalo’s Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music, that  is hyperlinked to bios, audio and video.  I’m looking forward to seeing what Sam does with Know Your Genre.

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Unofficial Artist Guide to SXSW

I’m excited! Next week I travel to Austin for a week long computer+music geek-fest at SXSW.  A big part of SXSW is the music – there are nearly 2,000 different artists playing at SXSW this year. But that presents a problem – there are so many bands going to SXSW (many I’ve never heard of) that I find it very hard to figure out which bands I should go and see.  I need a tool to help me find sift through all of the artists – a tool that will help me decide which artists I should add to my schedule and which ones I should skip.   I’m not the only one who was daunted by the large artist list.  Taylor McKnight, founder of SCHED*, was thinking the same thing.  He wanted to give his users a better way to plan their time at SXSW.  And so over a couple of weekends Taylor built (with a little backend support from us)  The Unofficial Artist Discovery Guide to SXSW.

The Unofficial Artist Discovery Guide to SXSW is a tool that allows you to explore the many artists attending this year’s SXSW.  It lets you search for artists,  browse popularity, music style, ‘buzzworthiness’,  or similarity to your favorite artists – and it will make recommendations for you based on your music taste (using your Last.fm, Sched* or Hype Machine accounts) .  The Artist Guide supplies enough context (bios, images, music, tag clouds, links) to help you decide if you might like an artist.

Here’s the guide:

Here’s a quick tour of some of the things you can do with the guide.  First off, you can Search for artists by name, genre/tag or location. This helps you find music when you know what you are looking for.

However, you may not always be sure what you are looking for – that’s where you use Discover. This gives you recommendations based on the music you already like.  Type in the name of a few artists (even artists that are not playing at SXSW) or your SCHED*, Hype Machine or Last.fm user name, and ‘Discover’ will give you a set of recommendations for SXSW artists based on your music taste.  For example, I’ve been listening to Charlotte Gainsbourg lately so I can use the artist guide to help me find SXSW artists that I might like:

If I see an artist that looks interesting I can drill down and get more info about the artist:

From here I can read the artist bio, listen to some audio, explore other similar SXSW artists or add the event to my SCHED* schedule.

I use Last.fm quite a bit, so I can enter my Last.fm name and get SXSW recommendations based upon my Last.fm top artists. The artist guide tries to mix things up a little bit so if I don’t like the recommendations I see, I can just ask again and I can get a different set. Here are some recommendations based on my recent listening at Last.fm:

If you’ve been using the wonderful SCHED* to keep track of your SXSW calendar you can use the guide to get recommendations based on artists that you’ve already added to your SXSW calendar.

In addition to search and discovery, the guide gives you a number of different ways to browse the SXSW Artist space.  You can browse by ‘buzzworthy’ artists – these are artists that are getting the most buzz on the web:

Or the most well-known artists:

You can browse by the style of music via a tag cloud:

And by venue:

Building the guide was pretty straightforward. Taylor used the Echo Nest APIs to get the detailed artist data such as familiarity, popularity, artist bios, links, images, tags and audio. The only data that was not available at the Echo Nest was the venue and schedule info which was  provided by Arkadiy (one of Taylor’s colleagues).  Even though SXSW artists can be extremely long tail (some don’t even have Myspace pages),  the Echo Nest was able to provide really good coverage for these sets (There was coverage for over 95% of the artists).     Still there are a few gaps and I suspect there may be a few errors in the data (my favorite wrong image is for the band Abe Vigoda).   If you are in a band that is going to SXSW and you see that we have some of your info wrong, send me an email (paul@echonest.com) and I’ll make it right.

We are excited to see the this Artist Discovery guide built on top of the Echo Nest.  It’s a great showcase for the Echo Nest developer platform and working with Taylor was great.  He’s one of these hyper-creative, energetic types – smart, gets things done and full of new ideas.   Taylor may be adding  a few more features to the guide before SXSW, so stay tuned and we’ll keep you posted on new developments.

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Music Explorer FX

Sten has posted a link to his super nifty Music  Explorer FX.  Music Explorer FX is  a Java Fx application for exploring and discovering music.  In some ways, the application is like a much slicker version of  Music Plasma or Musicovery.  You can explore a particular neighborhood in the music world – looking at artist photos and videos, listening to music, reading reviews and blog posts, and following paths to similar artists.    It’s a very engaging application that makes it easy to learn about new bands.    I especially like the image gallery mode – when I find a band that I think might be interesting, I hit the play button to listen to their music, and then enter the image gallery to get a slide show of the band playing.  Here’s an example of ‘Pull Tiger Tail’ – a band that I just learned about today while exploring with MEFX.

mefx

Sten uses a number of APIs to make MEFX happen. He uses the Echo Nest for artist search and to get all sorts of info including artist familiarity, hotness, artist similarity, blogs, news, reviews and audio. He gets artist images from Flickr and Last.fm – and just to make sure he’s relevant in this Twitter-centric world, he uses the Twitter API to let you tweet about any interesting paths you’ve taken through the music space.

We are living in a remarkable world now – there’s such an incredible amount of music available. There are millions of artists creating music in all styles.  The challenge for today’s music listener is to find a way to navigate through this music space to find music that they will like.  Traditional music recommenders can help, but I really think that applications like the MEFX that enable exploration of the music space are going to be important tools for the adventurous music listener

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The Free Music Archive

fmaLast week The Free Music Archive opened its virtual doors offering thousands of free tracks for streaming or download.   Yes, there are tons of sites on the web that offer new music  for free, but the FMA is different. The music on the FMA is curated by music experts (radio programmers, webcasters, venues, labels, collectives and so on) – so that instead of a  slush pile dominated by bad music typical of other free music sites, the  music at the FMA is really good (or at least one human expert thinks it is good).   Most of the music on the FMA is released under some form of a Creative Commons license that allows for free non-commercial use making it suitable for you to use in your podcast, remix, video game or MIR research.

For free-music aggregation sites like the FMA, music discovery has always been a big challenge.  Without any well-known artists to use as starting points into the collection, it is hard for a visitor to find music that they might like.   The FMA does have and advantage over other free-music aggregators – with the human curator in the loop, you’ll spend less time wading through bad music trying to find the music gems.    But the FMA and and other free-music sites need to do whole lot better if they are going to really become sources of new music for people.    It would be great if I could go to a site like FMA and tell them about my music tastes (perhaps by giving them a link to my APML, or itunesLibrary.xml or  last.fm name)  and have them point me to the music in their collection that best matches my music taste.  If they could give me a weekly customized music podcast with their newest music that best matches my music taste, I’d be in new-music heaven.

The FMA is pretty neat. I like the human-in-the-loop approach that leads to a high-quality music catalog.

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The Father Theresa of the Badge People

There’s a nifty writeup on the SXSW Artist Catalog at Austin 360: A smorgasbord for music festival-goers.

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Twisten.fm – Music gone viral.

twisten-2 The fine folks over at Grooveshark have just released Twisten.fm.  Like Blip.fm, Twisten.fm combines micro-blogging and music, and  like Blip.fm, instead of creating an entirely new microblogging network, Twisten.fm piggybacks on top of the existing Twitter network.

With twisten, you can make tweets with just about any song in the world (Grooveshark has millions of tracks in its catalog) – twisten will automatically generate a twisten tiny url to the song, and if any of your twitter followers click on the link, they are taken directly to the song page on Grooveshark where they can listen to the song.

twisten a song

twisten a song

Here’s what the song tweet looks like on twitter:

twisten on twitter

Twisten makes it easy for you to tell your twitter followers that you like a song – with Twisten, you just type the name of the song, and twisten does all of the hard work of finding the song in the catalog,  generating a tiny URL for the song and posting it to Twitter.

Twisten also makes it easy to listen to music posted by others.  If you use the Twisten web app, you can easily listen and browse all of the twisten tweets of your followees or the world at large.

Listening to Twisten tweets

Listening to Twisten tweets

With the twisten app, you  just see the Twisten tweets, which makes it a perfect app for browsing through new music.  It is easy to listen, since the player is embedded right in the page.  You can also listen to the music that is being posted by everyone.

I suspect that Twisten.fm is going to be a really big deal.  First and foremost, it is an incredibly viral app.  Just by using Twisten, you are telling all the world about it. 18 hours after it’s release, Twisten is #6 on the list of Twitter trending topics.

twitter2Second, it doesn’t re-invent the wheel.  Instead of building a whole new social network, it sits on top of Twitter, one of the largest existing social networks – it doesn’t have to build up a network from scratch.

Twisten is really neat, I like it a lot – still, there are a few places where it could be improved.

First of all, when listening to music on the Twisten site, the music should never stop when I navigate to a different part of the site. Right  now, if I’m listening to a particular tweet, and decide to check out what ‘everybody is listening to’, the music stops.  The main Grooveshark app does a much better job of keeping the music playing all the time whilst one navigates through the site.

Currently, when I click on a twisten tiny url in twitter to listen to a song, instead of taking me to Twisten, the URL takes me to Grooveshark.  I understand that Grooveshark is hosting all of the music, but it seems to me that if you want to really make Twisten go viral, the links should bring listeners straight to Twisten, where they can listen to the music, and while there, start Twisten their own tweets.

The listening experience on Twisten is a hunt-and-peck style.  I see a song, I click on it, I listening to it, and then I go and find the next song.   That’s fine when I am exploring for new music, but if I just want to listen to music, I’d like to be able to turn Twisten into a radio station, where I listen to the music that my friends have been twittering.   Ideally,  I should be able to listen to tweets all day without having to click a mouse button.  TheSixtyOne does a great job of keeping the music flowing.  Twisten should follow their model.

I wish Twisten.fm would scrobble all my tweets and listens – it’d be great if every music app in the world scrobbled my listening behavior.

Twisten is able to collect all sorts of interesting information about who is listening to what music.  I hope they do some interesting things with this data.   For instance, they could create a Twitter Music Zeitgest that shows the songs and artists that are rising, popular, or falling.   Since Twisten knows what I’ve been listening to, and what I like (because I can ‘favorite’ twisten songs), Twisten should be able to connect me up with other Twisten listeners that have similar tastes so I can use their twitters and listens to guide my own listening.   Twisten is going to be able to collect lots and lots of user listener data, so it should be interesting to see what they do with it all.

Twisten has the potential to be the real breakout music application of 2009. It has all the ingredients – a huge catalog of free music, and a viral model that leverages one of the largest and most active social networks.   When iLike released it’s facebook app, iLike became the fastest growing music app ever, adding 3 million users in two weeks.  Twisten has a good chance to do the same thing.

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