Failed recommendations 11:36 on Saturday
I’ve tried Amazon.com, Last.fm, iLike and most recently Goombah. All are hailed in-variously as having the best music recommendation systems, whether based on collaborative filtering, some high-tech distributed computing, or both.
The orange rubbery thing above is my record shelf. It contains my iTunes library which has over 18.000 songs. I’m not sure if this is a problem of sheer size of collection, or just a problem of variety, but all of the aforementioned recommendation systems are failing.
My musical taste is varied, but it’s not all encompassing. The systems fail to see that I like hip hop, but I don’t prefer recent female artists who concentrate on repetitive non-melodies and booty shaking.
The recommender algorithms can’t figure out that I like old easy listening music or cocktail music, Astrud Gilberto, old bossanova, Perez Prado, James Bond themes from the sixties, but I hate new easy listening music, aka elevator music.
I might have all the albums from Prince, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and Madonna. But that’s like 1% of my collection, and the systems can’t seem to figure out that owning those albums doesn’t make me an “average pop listener” who might enjoy every new average, well, semi-failed pop album.
There’s a lot of music classified as “electronic” in my library. Yet, the systems are unable to provide me with recommendations for new minimal, dubby techno, zero-beat ambient, breaks, or repetitive downtempo tracks with that certain Groove Armada vibe. All I get is some dumb-ass trance or jazzy house that sounds like failed wannabe jazz musicians playing badly, while drunk. Actually I believe the only reason for the existence of jazzy house is to get the listeners drunk.
And possibly for my interest in female folksy singers like Emiliana Torrini or Ebba Forsberg, combined with the few rock albums in my collecton, I’m now getting recommended a lot of young male “alternative rock” bands, which is a genre I find absolutely boring.
The recommendation systems fail to see there are clusters within my tastes, and fall to the trap of thinking my taste is a sum and average of its parts.