When I test-drive a new music recommender I usually start by getting recommendations based upon ‘The Beatles’ (If you like the Beatles, you make like XX). Most recommenders give results that include artists like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Wings, The Kinks and Beach Boys. These recommendations are reasonable, but they probably won’t help you find any new music. The problem is that these recommenders rely on the wisdom of the crowds and so an extremely popular artist like The Beatles tends to get paired up with other popular artists – the results being that the recommender doesn’t tell you anything that you don’t already know. If you are trying to use a recommender to discover music that sounds like The Beatles, these recommenders won’t really help you – Queen may be an OK recommendation, but chances are good that you already know about them (and The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, etc.) so you are not finding any new music.
At The Echo Nest we don’t base our artist recommendations solely on the wisdom of crowds, instead we draw upon a number of different sources (including a broad and deep crawl of the music web). This helps us avoid the popularity biases that lead to ineffectual recommendations. For example, looking at some of the Echo Nest recommendations based upon the Beatles we find some artists that you may not see with a wisdom of the crowds recommender – artists that actually sound like the Beatles – not just artists that happened to be popular at the same time as the Beatles. Echo Nest recommendations include artists such as The Beau Brummels , The Dukes of Stratosphear, Flamin’ Groovies and an artist named Emitt Rhodes. I had never ever seen Emitt Rhodes occur in any recommendation based on the Beatles, so I was a bit skeptical, but I took a listen and this is what I found:
Update: Don Tillman points to this Beatle-esque track:
Emitt could be the sixth Beatles. I think it’s a pretty cool recommendation