I’ve known for a while that I’m not terribly good at varying the music I listen to. Even within my own music collection I tend to have a few favourite albums of the moment, and while those favourites vary I rarely listen to anything else. Except when I have the radio on, and then it is your usual popular stuff, some good, some pap. I still pick up new things from friends occasionally but I never really go out of my way to vary what I’m listening to. I started to change that a little over the last few weeks.
First I tried sticking most of my music collection into a playlist, putting it on shuffle and just listening through it. I didn’t get very far, maybe a couple of hundred tracks in. While it was pretty good to hear lots of stuff that I hadnt listened to in absolutely ages it wasn’t so great that it just kept jumping from genre to genre. I quite like listening to an entire set of songs in one style. Maybe I could figure out how to make it just randomly play entire albums or something.
Second I experimented with iTunes’ new “genius” feature. I actually used this because I needed a good playlist for going to the gym. It takes a certain kind of music and the theory was that by choosing one good track, iTunes would make me a playlist with similar stuff. It was pretty bad. I’m not sure how it matches up tracks but it certainly isn’t by music style. Who would put together Foo Fighters and Newton Faulkner?
Finally I have been trying Pandora. This is a pretty cool service all in all. I have no idea how they fund it just seemingly with ads, but you give it an artist and it just streams you music to listen to that is similar. It does a good job of matching up the music styles. The only place where I felt it fell down was the lack of variety. Maybe I was just unlucky but it seemed to just flip flop between about 4 artists for each channel I created, all of them fairly mainstream artists too, nothing particularly new, I owned most of the songs it was choosing to play for me.
Pandora is certainly pretty good for making me listen to new stuff but I wonder what else there is out there that I might be missing. Unfortunately I’m too lazy to go hunting so I hope someone can tell me…