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“Genius” iTunes Recommender September 10, 2008

Posted by Andre Vellino in Collaborative filtering, Recommender service.
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Thanks to Paul Lamere for a nice review of iTune’s new Genius music recommender.  Some highlights:

…iTunes recommendations seem to be rather run-of-the-mill collaborative filtering recommendations based upon the wisdom of the crowds

… recommendations seem to be artist-based and not album or track-based.

… the Genius just picks tracks from similar artists regardless of how well the track is representative for the artist

The iTunes Genius is just a run-of-the-mill collaborative filtering recommender …. There’s no transparency in the recommendations like at Pandora. – the Genius just gives rather pedestrian recommendations and playlists.

Comments»

1. Daniel Lemire - September 10, 2008

Well. Amazon has a run-of-the-mill collaborative filtering recommender, and it drives a large percentage of their sales. For Apple, the question is whether it will make iTunes more useful, and more profitable.

I think it is a bit early to decide whether Apple needs a fancier recommender system.

2. Andre Vellino - September 10, 2008

Fair point. Except that if Apple wants to sell songs , then perhaps they should consider a recommendation method that uses songs as the recommendation items rather than recommending artists.

I expect Apple will take all this feedback and will eventually make a better mouse-trap. But by the sounds of it, Pandora is a better system.

3. Paul - September 10, 2008

> I think it is a bit early to decide whether Apple needs a fancier recommender system.

I agree – if the goal is for Apple to sell more tracks, a recommender that sends people to popular content will probably work well for Apple. However, as a tool for music discovery, the recommender falls flat – Apple is using an artist similarity model to recommend tracks – this leads to bad recommendations and a bad listening experience (Imagine a playlist with Led Zep’s Dazed and Confused followed by a Chuck Barry Chrismas song). I’ve been reading all sorts of stories in the mainstream press about how the Apple genius feature is going to be a Pandora or a Last.fm killer – so I was expecting something that would push the state-of-the-art in commercial music discovery – not a recommender that would suggest “Love will keep us together by the Captain and Tennille” because I like “Stairway to heaven”. I really wish that there was a way for other recommender companies to take part in the apple ecosystem. I think music-centric recommenders like what is coming out of the echo nest would do a much better job at helping people find new music and could drive more traffic to the iTunes store.


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