Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Are Genius playlists the beginning of the end for last.fm and Pandora?

Good news for music lovers ... bad news for last.fm, pandora and the like...

iTunes' new Genius playlists are, well, genius!  With one of the most installed and (more importantly) most used music players apple would be foolish to NOT get users' play data and 


  1. use it to make their offerings better and
  2. use it to PROFIT!

So my initial impressions:

It is a bit scary signing up... anonymous, but... um, yeah, give us your iTunes Store account name and password... but it's anonymous, we promise!  Did we mention how anonymous it is?  Well it is totally anonymous!  

I'm not a "privacy" nut.  I recycled my tinfoil hat for some quick cash.  If I was, I wouldn't be blogging, or scrobbing with last.fm, etc.  I understand why they need the "privacy policy" and your account info (in fact, I actually read the privacy policy associated with enabling Genius in its entirety... it's actually short and sweet).  It's not a super big deal, and I applaud apple's upfrontness about it.

Okay, one hurdle down.  Next iTunes spent an hour or more reading my library and playcounts, dates, ratings, etc (it was probably closer to an hour and a half, but I have something like 14,000 tracks so your ymmv).  Then, after telling me it had been submitted, I was informed that Apple was

 processing the data.  A few minutes later:  Success!  

"You can start pestering the Genius!"  <-- this is NOT what it said, I forgot...

So, I tried it out, and it did a pretty good job, at least on the first few attempts, at least with the non-obscure stuff.

Biggest rightside downside?  

The Giant Genius sidebar... of course.  If you're like me, you may just want to hide that Genius sidebar right off the bat.    I refuse to buy tracks from the iTunes library before looking around to see if I can buy the real physical cd online for less.  I like tangibles, and don't mind the wait for delivery and ripping, but I'm probably in the minority there, given the success of the iTunes music store and certain less legitimate

 means...  Of course the sidebar might be good for recommendations even if you don't buy from iTunes, so I'll look into it eventually I'm sure.

(NOTE, I do applaud that it recognized probably the only major Johnny Cash album that I don't (yet) own, and didn't try to re-sell me all the stuff I already bought... that is smart use of info... something that last.fm and pandora really CAN'T do, at least not very well).

So, is this really the end for last.fm and pandora?  Not really... Until Apple/iTunes will let you actually play stuff (more than 30 seconds) from songs you don't yet own, they can't compete with the music discovery aspect of those guys... but if I were an investor in last.fm/pandora, I'd be a bit scared (given the licensing costs we've heard about...) and now this encroaching by Apple.  But, oh well, I'm pleased with apple's move, and competition is a good thing, right? Right?

And the best part of it all?  ooTunes didn't break with the update to iTunes 8.0!  In fact, genius playlists just show right up (both in a regular browser or in the iPhone).  The only problem is that it doesn't use a neat new icon for Genius lists (kinda gonna be hard to come up with an icon more genius than nerdlinger,  

but I guess we can give him a pocket protector or einstein hair or something.  Look for an update soon that fixes that minor issue, and HOPEFULLY a way to create a genius list on the fly, through ooTunes, using not only iTunes tracks, but maybe even pandora, last.fm, seeqpod, or other tracks (no promises on this, but if it's possible, I'll do it!).

1 comment:

informs said...

I prefer http://www.deezer.com/en rather than LastFM because they have free and legal music on demand rather than radios, you can really choose what you want to listen to, imo it's better, what do you think???