Revisiting iLike music recommendations

ilikeThere has been quite a bit of rumor in the last couple of days that iLike is about to be acquired by MySpace.  iLike is one of the biggest music apps in the Facebook world so it seems that this acquisition could set up an interesting dynamic between MySpace and Facebook.   I’ve never been a big fan of iLike. It never has really worked for me as a music discovery site, instead it always seemed to me to be just another social web site that just happened to use music taste as a way to find new friends.

Back in October 2005, on the day when iLike first launched, I took the site for a spin and wrote about the rather poor iLike music  recommendations.  Six months later I checked again and their music recommendations were still really crappy.  With iLike in the news, I decided to take one more  look to see how there music recommendations have improved since 2005. Here’s what I found.

For my first test, I created an iLike radio station with a seed artist of Miles Davis, iLike happily added The Pogues, Christina Aguileira and the Dixie Chicks to the mix. That left me feeling kind of blue.

ilike-still-sucksNext up, a little bit of James Brown – iLike filled out the playlist with the Pretenders and the electronic artist  A.M. (and who is Carl Hatmaker? – this feels like a shill recommendation for an iLike/Garageband artist). Again, a playlist that left my neck hurting from the iPod whiplash as I was jerked from genre to genre.

ilike-james-brownAnother try, some Aphex Twin.  This leads to some PJ Harvey, The Buzzcocks and the Mars Volta. (ouch!)


Listening to Bob Marley – iLike gave me some Clapton, Moby and  Queen.

ilike-bob-marleyIt looks like today’s  iLike music recommendations are not  much better than they were back in October of 2005.  A good fraction of the recommended artists are clunkers that don’t match the seed artist – sometimes feeling like anti-recommendations – (Christina may be just about as far away from Miles as one can get).  They also like to sprinkle in their own Garageband artists which seems to me more like an artist promotion rather than an honest recommendation.  After four years, I’m still not impressed with iLike’s music recommendations.   When I’m looking for new music, I’ll continue to go somewhere else.  But I’m open minded, I’ll be sure to check in again in four years to see if they’ve got it right.

  1. #1 by grubernd on August 18, 2009 - 5:13 pm

    maybe they want you to discover NEW music.. so if you listened to old miles davis all your life, it might be time for some miss aguilera. in that sense, their playlists are PERFECT.

    (big grin)

  2. #2 by zazi on August 18, 2009 - 5:46 pm

    Of course, the recommendation thing is still a subjective thing. So for one user the suggestions are perfect, because he never expect the recommend songs and is suprised and maybe also satisfied because he also like the recommendation (because he likes the mixture or whatever). On the other side, another user really expect a closer relation to the seed song and is open for more similar tracks in style or artist or country or whatever similarity.
    That means a user should always get the chance to direct the recommendations in a certain kind (detailed, less detailed, …).
    Afterall, I don’t understand the hype of iLike and price of around 20 million dollar. At the end the service, which will work at best (economicly and regards to the performance) wins the race. It’s still a no to less profit market.

    Cheers zazi

  3. #3 by Oscar Celma on August 19, 2009 - 2:19 pm

    Very interesting serendipitous recommendations! :-)

    So, MySpace is spending $20M for randomly generated recommendations? Well, I could do that in a couple of Python code lines.

    Ok, looks like the $$$ comes from the fact that they have 50M (not engaged) users, all coming from Facebook, that use the app from time to time…

    What’s the real value of iLike, then? See:

    Cheers, Oscar

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