As many online music services seek to refine their methods for our music playing and discovery pleasure, I'd like to offer my own personal ideal:
- I generally prefer my standard listening and discovery modes to be separate. Then again, not always. When I want them together, I generally just have my standard listening device (for these purposes, we'll call it "myTunes") on random. Make me a checkbox when I have random on to say whether or not I want random reccomended tracks inserted (and a slide bar with 3 states: often, sometimes, rarely).
- My friends are more likely to get what songs I'll want than you are or than "other fans" are. And bands I like a lot are more likely still to get it right than my friends. Ask them--they know music pretty well, and I generally respect their opinions. Oh and hey, while you're at it, make sure I can find out why something was reccomended to me.
- Speaking of random, this state (as it has become such, rather than just a feature) should pay closer attention to me. Am I clicking to the next song often? What have I been stopping on recently? Am I clicking off certain songs nearly every time? What songs have I been playing actively recently? Pay particular attention to my reaction (play a lot vs click away from immediately) to reccomended songs and play more or fewer from the source of the reccomendation based on my reactions. Sometimes I like rating things, but not often when random is on.
- I want to be able to share my music from where I am (in myTunes). Sometimes I want to just share one song, sometimes I want to share a bunch of songs at once. The other person doesn't need an mp3, just a stream (a full stream, without having to register).
- Songs like the ones I recently shared or put into playlists or have been playing a lot recently should play more often on random (including, but only occasionally, other songs by that artist).
Get on that. If I was smarter at programming and algorithms, I'd build my own version of Songbird. Perhaps there is a market there? Looking into the future where all music is free and computers are merely portals to the internet where files exist in a cloud, will the market be in custom built music portals, tailored specifically to your listening preferences? Probably not, but it's worth throwing out there--I think you'll see a growing long tail of market-quality music players and reccomendation engines.Note: Bonus points to anyone identifying the reference in the title.